Big Tech is Weaponized Media: Or Why Social Media, Even After Deplatforming, Still Backs the Trump Insurrection Conspiracists

Social Media Companies are Not the Good Guys. They are Not Even “Tech.” (They are, However, Mostly Guys.) These Massive Mass Media Companies are Worse than Too Little, Too Late in Deplatforming the President and Parler

De-platforrming the President and Parler is probably the necessary choice right now, but can we begin by acknowledging how awful the big tech choice is: continue banning an insurrectionist in chief or not seeding media conspiracy evidence to his conspiratorial followers?

How did we get here…

46 Reasons to Elect Biden the 46th President

Drafted in October 2020
Posted after electoral recounts confirm a clear Biden win


Intro: our bipartisan electoral system demands that we vote against the worse candidate by electing the less bad candidate. The choice is that simple if also emotionally costly: this kind of conversation estranges friends, squashes innovative third-party candidates, and requires each voter to weigh the balance of compromised candidates and accept them as is, not our values as imagined. While not easy, make no mistake: each of us must carefully decide for ourselves which is the worst candidate…

Tl;dr: Things are stressful. Think negatively on purpose. Find peace in working the voting system against Trump.

Introduction: I drafted this post almost a season ago in the Summer of 2020, before we knew that Biden would select Harris as VP candidate, before a new Supreme Court Justice would be approved in the last minute of the election, and before the division of this electoral season would nearly boil over now only a week away from election day. Harris is not exactly the “Abrams-Allen-Warren- Arcinda enlightened monarch” I wished for then but I now see that most sensible people admire…

Introduction: I wrote the open letter to my conservative friends quickly back in the Spring, when Trump was threatening to shoot protestors (feels like decades ago). This post kicked off for me a series of public-facing posts during the election season. Since then I’ve learned that, were I to rewrite the letter with the hindsight of what we know now in late October 2020 on the eve of an election, I would work harder to both extend dignity to Trump supporters as well as be much more critical of Trump and his administration. Namely, I realize more clearly now that…

Why “Socialism” is Not the Argument You Are Looking For: American Capitalism and Socialism is a Both/And, not an Either/Or.

Accusations of “socialism” are particularly popular right now. Here’s why everyone needs to calm down and think: bank accounts, bond market, public works, corporate law, and much else.

Starting with Webster’s would be too easy: it would be no fun simply to point out that, obviously, no one reading this post on Medium (or originally Facebook, a private company with a net value of a half a trillion dollars; note: value you personally create for it to privatize) can seriously…

30 Tips on Using Media from a Media Scholar:

August 13, 2020

Ad Fontes chart on media bias from 2017 (deliberately out of date*)

Here are a few best practices and tips on how to consume the news.

Tl;dr: Pay for your local newspaper before you pay (in money or attention) for any other media source. Read, don’t watch, the news. If you don’t pay for your news with subscriptions or taxes, your news is a lemon. (Publicly funded radio is usually a fair bet; the rest? Nope.) Don’t freak out about, but do manage, media bias: anticipate and know…

6 July 2020

Benjamin Peters[1]

Executive Summary

An anecdotal survey (N=30) of anti-mask communities on Facebook during the last week of June 2020 suggests that anti-maskers tend to be white women American Trump supporters that claim to strongly value individual liberty as well as mixed sensitivities to health. It is curious that anti-maskers express some heightened sensitivities to health risks and hygiene. These pro-health impulses are also obviously, if still counterintuitively, directed against the overarching medical consensus that wearing masks helps slow COVID-19 infection rates. How do anti-maskers explain the swerve in their claims to being pro-health? It appears that…

Why Vote by Mail, or the Unlikely Case for Four More Months of Trump

Quickly written June 15, 2020

Tl;dr: Why voting might last until April 2021 and why that might actually strengthen democracy. Also, try to vote absentee this election if you can, make Election Day a national holiday (Columbus is on his way out), boo money in politics, three cheers for the US Post Office, and tell congress today: “we vote by mail now, or we vote you out!”

We need voting by mail and we need it now. I outline at the bottom a sketch of how…

Almost half a millennium ago, on 31 October 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences critiquing a broad and powerful institution that had, in his view, distorted then contemporary social life. Like Luther, we — a few digital media scholars and technology critics (see acknowledgements below)— too have invested our lives in something we want at times to believe in, cannot always bring ourselves to do so, and therefore seek to critique and reform: the internet. (The separation between indulgence and internet is not great.) What follows then are a few provisional intellectual gambits…

Ben Peters

Media prof (TU), faculty associate at Berkman, theorist, historian, ultimate frisbeeist.

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