Articles looking at two ways computing technology mediates political news:
New York Times: Our Hackable Political Future
Summary: Op-ed about technology that allows one to easily edit people (or objects) into videos. Mentions some of the potential beneficial uses (including for training driverless cars), but focuses on the detrimental ones, especially for creating fake news to influence people’s political beliefs.
The Guardian: ‘Fiction Is Outperforming Reality’: How YouTube’s Algorithm Distorts Truth
Summary: In-depth article about a study of the videos most recommended by YouTube in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The authors contend that they were disproportionately anti-Clinton, and included an unexpectedly large proportion of fake and conspiracy-driven content. They suggest this is a result of the interaction of how YouTube’s recommendation algorithm selects videos and patterns of traffic directed from Twitter bots. (Long!)
Note: Both articles mention videos with sexual or disturbing content. The NYT op-ed has a definite political bent, and the Guardian article could be taken that way.
- The authors of both pieces argue that computing technology is changing how democracy works.
- What could be done to mitigate the problems for democracy that are discussed in the articles?
- What are some examples of technology supporting democracy?
- When you see a video “Up next” in the YouTube side bar, do you think about why it’s being recommended? What assumptions do you make?
- What do you think about why it recommends a particular music video? What about a news or political video? Are they different?
Alignment with CSP Global Impact Framework Points:
- LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
- EK 7.1.1H Social media, such as blogs and Twitter, have enhanced dissemination.
- EK 7.1.1N The Internet and the Web have changed many areas, including e-commerce, health care, access to information and entertainment, and online learning.
- LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.
- EK 7.3.1A Innovations enabled by computing raise legal and ethical concerns.
- LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.
- EK 7.5.2A Determining the credibility of a source requires considering and evaluating the reputation and credentials of the author(s), publisher(s), site owner(s), and/or sponsor(s).