How 2020 changed the Internet

[Read our profile of Kamala Harris, the first woman elected U.S. vice president.]

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In this long (and still going on) Election season in America, I have learned two things about Internet companies, through which many of us experience the world.

First, Facebook, Google, and the rest have reluctantly assumed their role as information as our gatekeepers, and are likely not to return. Second, the rest of us do not know how these gatekeepers used their power.

In the early hours of Wednesday, it was reported that many people were warning about this: President Trump Baseless claims made This election was being stolen from him, and he declared all Americans to be false even before counting their votes.

Twitter and facebook sooner than expected Applicable warning label As companies, Mr. Trump’s post with his false claims They said that wouldTo add context and avoid increasing its message. They did this to another Incorrect online voting information, Too.

How he handled the president’s claims and showed how much Internet companies in America have changed over the past year. Gradually, inconsistently and often reluctantly, they have done more to prevent people from using their Internet properties to confuse information that may confuse or harm others.

People who are upset that Facebook, Twitter or Google are interfering in what happens online, and even called it “censorship”: I should say: yes.

The functioning of the web as we know it has always been a result of constantly changing options for companies to keep their thumbs on the scale. nothing happens by chance.

The powers of the Internet have decided which search result appears first, that Aunt Shirley’s baking photos should be at the top of your Facebook feed and that spam will not reach your email inbox. The Internet gives voice to everyone, but Internet companies decide which voices are heard and prioritized.

What has changed is that these areas of largely invisible decisions appear with some high-profile interventions, such as Mr. Trump and the labels of those deletions Misleading health information about coronovirus. Those measures may be temporary, but Internet companies will find it difficult to retreat to a place where they pretend that they give equal weight to all the world’s information.

Explicit hand interference has enabled more people to notice invisible people.

For that I say thank goodness. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, TikTok, Twitter and more are mediators for us to know and understand about our friends, communities and the world.

This is helpful and terrible in many ways, because we still have little idea of ​​how these middlemen work or How are our beliefs and attitudes Our screens are being shaped by those invisible Internet options. From design, how they work is shrouded in mystery.

Only Facebook knows what articles or other information is most viewed on its site. YouTube can restart its computers and Pay more attention to different people or channels Without knowing about us. It is not necessarily censorship or anything else that is bad. YouTube is acting as a gatekeeper. Important decisions go through it.

The current scenario in the United States – a close presidential election with perhaps days before knowing the outcome – is a mismatch for human impatience and Internet information in which attention-grabbing lies often travel faster than the nuanced and boring truths Huh. There will be So much nonsense on the internet Over the next few days, and online superpower will probably do a lot wrong.

One good thing about this year is that Internet companies and those of us who trust them have done away with the fantasy that what we experience online is “neutral” or coincidental. . The first stage is accepting it.


My job is to write a technology newspaper, but I am also a human being. I just noticed that there was so much tension in my shoulders that they penetrated right to my ears. Perhaps you are feeling the same way.

Whitney Phillips, Online Information Specialist Which was featured in Monday’s newspaper, Also share some knowledge that we are waiting on many results from Tuesday’s election when we can easily maintain time in this way. She suggests the following:

Take a minute and answer the following questions

  • What kind of things calm you down when you feel stressed?

  • Who are the most grounding and supportive people in your life?

  • What are your “chicken soup” – entertainment that calms your soul?

Now sketch some responses to the following:

What specific plans can you make to do those cool things? For example, identify some times that you can set aside for a chicken soup show that has no other screens or discussion.

What concrete methods can you adopt to reduce contact with stressful people in your life? Maybe allow yourself to pretend not to respond to messages or to get out of social situations that worry you.

What are some ways to increase contact with supportive people in your life? Can you create a group thread for support throughout the week, or keep the zoom open during key moments to feel connected to others?

What kind of treatment or reward can make you feel happy?

One more thing to reflect on:

Practices or feelings that precede feelings of anxiety or depression? It takes practice to find out what they are, but once you notice that you are going to a panicked place, you can engage in any of the above ideas, meditation or yoga Or go for a walk.


  • Big threat to Uber and Lyft: California voters on Tuesday approved a ballot measure that allows gig economy companies like Uber and Lyft to continue drivers as independent contractors. My colleague Kate Conger writes that Uber and similar companies are now Is expected to pursue federal law Millions of applications for company workers to preserve contractor status elsewhere in the United States.

  • A complex use of facial recognition software: To identify a man accused of assaulting a law enforcement officer in Washington in June, law enforcement officers fed a Twitter photo of the man to the Facial Recognition Software, The Washington Post. Reported. The post went through the benefits and potential pitfalls of a facial recognition system, which has operated almost entirely outside public view.

  • (Virtual) in praise of fireplace cracking: Live stream or online video of a burning fire The medium debugger site says that what we want is a moment of peace.

Here are some Adorable kiddos who grew up to vote on Tuesday.


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