Mail-In Voter Fraud: Anatomy of a Disinformation Campaign

John Naughton: Yochai Benkler and a team from the Berkman-Klein Centre have published an interesting study which comes to conclusions that challenge conventional wisdom about the power of social media. “Contrary to the focus of most contemporary work on disinformation”, they write, our findings suggest that this highly effective disinformation campaign, with potentially profound effects…More

The flight from WhatsApp

John Naughton: Not surprisingly, Signal has been staggering under the load of refugees from WhatsApp following Facebook’s ultimatum about sharing their data with other companies in its group. According to data from Sensor Tower Signal was downloaded 8.8m times worldwide in the week after the WhatsApp changes were first announced on January 4. Compare that…More

Silencing Trump and authoritarian tech power

John Naughton: It was eerily quiet on social media last week. That’s because Trump and his cultists had been “deplatformed”. By banning him, Twitter effectively took away the megaphone he’s been masterfully deploying since he ran for president. The shock of the 6 January assault on the Capitol was seismic enough to convince even Mark…More

What Tech Calls Reading

A Review of FSG x Logic Series by Alina Utrata Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux (FSG) and the tech magazine Logic teamed up to produce four books that capture “technology in all its contradictions and innovation, across borders and socioeconomic divisions, from history through the future, beyond platitudes and PR hype, and past doom and…More

Is the UK really going to innovate in regulation of Big Tech?

On Tuesday last week the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) outlined plans for an innovative way of regulating powerful tech firms in a way that overcomes the procedural treacle-wading implicit in competition law that had been designed for an analogue era. The proposals emerged from an urgent investigation by the Digital Markets Taskforce, an…More

Great expectations: the role of digital media for protest diffusion in the 2010s

The decade after the 2008 economic crisis started with great expectations about the empowering potential of digital media for social movements. The wave of contention that started from Iceland and the MENA countries swept also Europe, where hundreds of thousands Spanish protesters took part in the Indignados protests in 2011 and a smaller but dedicated…More

Seeing Like a Social Media Site

The Anarchist’s Approach to Facebook When John Perry Barlow published “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” nearly twenty-five years ago, he was expressing an idea that seemed almost obvious at the time: the internet was going to be a powerful tool to subvert state control. As Barlow explained to the “governments of the Industrial…More