The radicalization of young men is driven by a complex stew of emotional, economic and political elements, many having nothing to do with social media. But critics and independent researchers say YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.
Like so many separated families, the couple have experienced the years of Trump’s presidency as a grim journey of restless nights and tearful goodbyes. But unlike many in their predicament, Jason voted for Trump.
He knew Trump planned to get tough on immigration — building a wall and deporting drug dealers, rapists and killers. He never imagined anyone would consider his sweet stay-at-home wife a “bad hombre.”
Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. Nicole Hemmer, an assistant professor of Presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the author of “Messengers of the Right,” a history of the conservative media’s impact on American politics, says of Fox, “It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.”
That people don’t know there are human beings doing this work is, of course, by design. Facebook would rather talk about its advancements in artificial intelligence, and dangle the prospect that its reliance on human moderators will decline over time.
But given the limits of the technology, and the infinite varieties of human speech, such a day appears to be very far away. In the meantime, the call center model of content moderation is taking an ugly toll on many of its workers. As first responders on platforms with billions of users, they are performing a critical function of modern civil society, while being paid less than half as much as many others who work on the front lines. They do the work as long as they can — and when they leave, an NDA ensures that they retreat even further into the shadows.
To Facebook, it will seem as if they never worked there at all. Technically, they never did.
Cynthia Glover has arranged her bed so that it faces the front door. On many nights she lies there until the pop of gunfire is replaced by the hiss of air brakes from the first school bus of the morning. Then the 56-year-old can doze off, her pit bull and her husband by one side, a loaded 9mm handgun by the other. It is chrome and holds 17 rounds.
Glover used to watch the movies with her four children, sitting on the couch as she held them, rocking back and forth. Then they grew up, and three of them were shot and killed in separate incidents. So was one grandson. Now, she worries her last child will be next.