We would all be better off without Facebook

Being an old geezer, I don’t use Facebook even though I have an account. But I have been seeing increasing reports of how it has become a pernicious influence, not merely because it encourages the waste of time. Facebook has become a haven for the spreading of false information and generating hate and divisiveness. And what makes it worse is that Facebook is not neutral when it comes to monitoring hate speech and taking steps to combat it.
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Michelle Wolf gives Megyn Kelly her comeuppance

After wallowing in the mud at Fox News for a decade and reaping the huge rewards of being just another of their attack dogs, faithfully repeating the party line and viciously attacking people who disagreed with it when she was not being utterly ridiculous (she once made the claim that Santa Claus was white), Megyn Kelly has now moved to NBC and is trying to pass herself off as serious journalist. On her new show she landed an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
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The new neighborliness

While the internet has been blamed for a decrease in person-to-person interactions and the increase in people checking their phones even when they are with someone in person, in other ways it has increased communication by enabling people to get in touch with like-minded people whom they would never have encountered before. Internet dating, for example, has enabled people to connect with people who share the same interests and whom they might never have found in the random interactions of daily life.
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Twitter encourages people to jump to wrong conclusions

Twitter is a communication system that is ripe for misunderstanding and even deliberate distortion. The brevity and speed of Twitter messages is supposed to be part of its appeal (though I do not find it that attractive) but with any communication system that limits itself to just 140 characters, one should realize that a lot more is left out than is in the message itself. Unfortunately, this results in people simply assuming what they want to about what is not there and then running with it. This is even more evident when people have strong feelings about the person whose tweet they are responding to.
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The right-shifted spectrum of US politics

Here’s Ben Smith writing about what he sees as a major shift in Democratic party policies.

Donald Trump has already changed the Democratic Party more than his own Republican Party.

While the president has merely reduced his own party into a panicked mess, the Democrats’ trajectory seems to have moved subtly and decisively away from the center-left Clinton liberalism toward a politics whose planks make Barack Obama look like Al Gore.
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Good riddance, Roger Ailes

Matt Taibbi gives a fitting farewell to a truly horrible human being.

When I mentioned to one of my relatives that I was writing about the death of Ailes, the response was, “Say that you hope he’s reborn as a woman in Saudi Arabia.”

Ailes has no one but his fast-stiffening self to blame for this treatment. He is on the short list of people most responsible for modern America’s vicious and bloodthirsty character.

We are a hate-filled, paranoid, untrusting, book-dumb and bilious people whose chief source of recreation is slinging insults and threats at each other online, and we’re that way in large part because of the hyper-divisive media environment he discovered.
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Support The Intercept

I think The Intercept is one of the best sources of original independent investigative journalism in the US, along with ProPublica and DemocracyNow!. I have long contributed to the last two organizations but The Intercept never asked for support because it was funded by billionaire Pirre Omidyar. But clearly such a model is not sustainable over the long term and they have started to diversify their funding stream by asking for contributions.
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How blog ‘collaboration’ offers may work

Yesterday I wrote about the many requests I get from people offering to provide content for the blog and commenters shared my puzzlement as to what exactly the business model is. How can they make enough money on ads that they can afford to pay me? This morning, I got another offer that was more explicit about what they were offering and thus sheds some light on what is going on because it explicitly describes the business model. Here is the message. (I have replaced the person’s name with X and their website with Y.org.) It begins with the now-common faux-friendly ‘Hey’.
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Political comedy on network TV

Donald Trump has been lashing out at Stephen Colbert. What is pathetic is that Trump spends so much energy and time lashing out at others, such as light night talk show hosts. Presidents in the past have been able to pressure TV networks into muzzling critics who were comedians. Perhaps the most well-known example is how president Johnson tried and later president Nixon succeeded in leaning on CBS management to can The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1969. Long before there was cable TV with its greater freedoms, Tom and Dick Smothers were the trailblazers for today’s TV political comedians.
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Portrayals of minorities in films and the media

Richard Gere stars in a new film that has just been released called Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, about a Jewish ‘fixer’ or dealmaker in New York. He happens to do an expensive favor for an obscure Israeli politician who later becomes prime minister of that country and this suddenly makes Norman a highly sought-after influence peddler. Jeffrey Salkin writes that he cringed many times while watching the film and explains why.
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