Everything changed for Facebook two years ago. The company was accused of making politically biased choices about which news stories showed up as trending topics in users’ news feeds. The adjustments Facebook made in response to those criticisms not only changed Facebook’s platform in fundamental ways, but it also significantly altered the landscape of politics in America and elsewhere. WIREDs editor in chief Nick Thompson has just published—along with his coauthor, contributing editor Fred Vogelstein—a lengthy cover story about Facebook’s “two years of hell.” The gripping saga shows how the social network’s power to affect how its users see the world and its inaction in combatting bad actors have had disastrous consequences. This episode isn’t about gadgets, but it’s an important listen nonetheless.
Some notes: Read the Facebook story, which is also WIRED magazine’s March cover story. The launch of Instant Articles. Adam Mosseri’s 2016 post about the initial News Feed tweaks. Last month, Facebook tweaked the News Feed again. Nick interviews Tristan Harris in 2017. Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of the global community.
Recommendations this week: You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier, Jennifer Kahn’s profile of Lanier in The New Yorker, Havit’s Ultra Thin mechanical keyboard, and the game of Backgammon.
Send the hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes is @pardesoteric, Nick Thompson is @nxthompson, and Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.
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