Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Pessimistic technology reporter Kevin Roose has a piece in Tuesday's New York Times with the disconcerting yet accurately representative headline, "How the Biden Administration Can Help Solve Our Reality Crisis." Pegged to the twin anxieties over right-wing conspiracy theories and violence, Roose's article contains one of the most blink-inducing paragraphs I have ever encountered in a respected journal:
Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a "reality czar."
Cue scores of snorting noises on Twitter about our new "Ministry of Truth."
"It sounds a little dystopian, I'll grant," Roose concedes. "But let's hear them out."
OK, let's. Harvard's Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, joins the recent political-class chorus calling for a "truth commission," and pushes for the feds to have access to Facebook/Twitter/YouTube algorithms: "We must open the hood on social media so that civil rights lawyers and real watchdog organizations can investigate human rights abuses enabled or amplified by technology."