[News] The Internet Was a Mistake

A thread for updates on the various ways the internet is destroying everything and the undying hellsites of social media. Let's all laugh at the abyss.

FWIW, there was a follow-up study to the one I listed above, published in 2019, and it was equally gloomy.

On one task, students evaluated a grainy video claiming to show ballot stuffing in the 2016 Democratic primaries (the video was actually shot in Russia). Fifty-two percent believed it constituted “strong evidence” of voter fraud in the U.S. Among more than 3,000 responses, only three students tracked down the source of the video, even though a quick search turns up a variety of articles exposing the ruse.

Asked to evaluate Slate’s home page, where some tiles are news stories and other ads (set off by the words “Sponsored Content”), two-thirds of students couldn’t tell the difference.

Students displayed a troubling tendency to accept websites at face value. Ninety-six percent failed to consider why ties between a climate change website and the fossil fuel industry might lessen that website’s credibility. Instead of investigating who was behind the site, students focused on superficial markers of credibility: the site’s aesthetics, its top-level domain, or how it portrayed itself on the About page.

Nearly all students floundered. Ninety percent received no credit on four of six tasks.

And when I was teaching at the community college, I learned that many of my students didn’t know how many states there are in the US. I’m more concerned about lack of very basic knowledge than thinking skills. (Both are very important, but when students get a bonus question wrong on a test....There are —— states in the United States of America....and some ARGUE with me about the answer, I don’t have much hope.)

They argue? How do they insist that you're wrong about there being fifty states, and that they're right?

That CALCULUS student told me that they were taught there were more states in high school.
I hope she wasn’t accurate, but I’ve also heard dreadful things about some teachers...and seen some really bad stuff too.

In the beginning algebra courses, about half the students would get the states question wrong. The higher level students typically had a higher percentage correct, but don’t underestimate the ignorance of people.
Internet was around at this time, but it wasn’t as prevalent and students didn’t all carry cell phones yet.

Maybe they had a teacher who talked about the non-state territories the US occupies and weren’t paying close attention?

The Information Apocalypse Is Already Here, And Reality Is Losing

Two years ago, a video of former president Barack Obama calling President Donald Trump a “total and complete dipsh*t” was uploaded to YouTube.

As the shock of his comments sunk in, the video revealed the speaker was in fact Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele. The Obama deepfake, a sort of Manhattan Project for fake news, was intended to demonstrate just how easy it is to disseminate convincing disinformation by manipulating video and audio — and how much easier it would become as technology advances.

“It may sound basic," said Peele-as-Obama in the video, "but how we move forward in the age of information is going to be the difference between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of f*cked-up dystopia.”

The video, which was produced in partnership with BuzzFeed as a public service announcement, distilled a growing number of dire predictions and warnings that technological advances would soon fracture our shared sense of reality beyond repair. Writing in the Atlantic, journalist Franklin Foer said manipulated video would someday “destroy faith in our strongest remaining tether to the idea of common reality.”

He wrote: “We’ll shortly live in a world where our eyes routinely deceive us. Put differently, we’re not so far from the collapse of reality.”

We’re now living in a version of that dystopian future, where people are struggling to distinguish fact from fiction and are resistant to information from credible sources. But it’s not the result of new technology or sophisticated synthetic media. As it turns out, the tools needed to unmoor people from our shared reality already exist and are less technological than societal: a global pandemic that unleashes fear, uncertainty, and an economic catastrophe among a deeply polarized public; motivated and well-organized fringe and conspiracy groups eager to seize the moment to reach the mainstream; and seemingly authoritative sources and institutions that stoke that disagreement and fail to communicate effectively with the public.

In the end, the information apocalypse arrived a couple of weeks ago, ushered in not by some new reality-bending technology but by a disgraced scientist in a slick 26-minute video.

TikTok Teens Are Obsessed With Pizzagate

Fantastic.

While YouTube has tried to root out the conspiracy theory about a Democratic child sex dungeon in a Washington pizzeria by attaching a warning to those searching for the topic on its site, there’s a surprising place where Pizzagate is booming. Nearly four years after it began, the conspiracy theory is popping up all over the place on the short-form video app and Gen Z hangout spot TikTok.

Pizzagate has become massive on TikTok, reaching plenty of young people right as the reality around them—thanks to the pandemic, police violence and related unrest, and a new Netflix documentary highlighting Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes—seems more and more unhinged. The #Pizzagate hashtag has earned more than 69 million views on the platform, while related hashtags have earned several millions more.

I thought about putting this in the men's feminism thread, but since it hasn't been used in almost four months this'll work too:

CNN: Fedmyster removed from OnlineTV after allegations of sexual harrassment and unwanted touching

The news of his removal from the house he shares with several other gamers emerged a week after more than 100 people, most of them women, came forward with allegations that fellow gamers in the industry had sexually harassed, abused, or discriminated against them. The industry has gained notoriety in recent years for rampant online harassment and misogyny.

"Recent years"? Like the past 25, when people started gaming together on the Internet? I mean, even Starcraft is 22 years old now.