After the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot, as researchers and journalists were seeking answers about what happened, how, and why, a trove of helpful information almost magically appeared. Through inept cybersecurity, the right-wing social media site Parler had accidentally made all of its data public to anyone who knew how to find it. “It would […]
Author: Ali Breland
Jack Dorsey Tried to Be Cool, But the Company He Built Is Deeply Conventional
Jack Dorsey always looked like a person who was trying to affect something else. He was the CEO of two big Silicon Valley tech companies—Square and Twitter—and is, as of today, just the CEO of one after leaving the latter. But he tried to present himself as something else. A “cool CEO,” maybe. Instead of […]
The QAnon Cult Leader in Dallas Has an Allegedly Violent Past
When pictures started circulating in early November of QAnon supporters crowding Dallas’s Dealy Plaza, where John F. Kennedy was assassinated, in anticipation of the second coming of the slain president and the arrival of John F. Kennedy Jr., his dead son, it became a political Twitter joke. Now, some three weeks later, some middle-aged and boomer […]
Disinformation Isn’t Just a Tech Problem. It’s a Social One, Too.
Mis- and disinformation are often viewed as a cause of society’s ills. But a new report from the Aspen Institute’s Commission on Information Disorder, which studied the global “crisis of trust and truth,” offers a different perspective on how to think about the proliferation of conspiracy theories and bogus info: The rise of disinformation is […]
The Bizarre Travis Scott Claims Show That Conspiracies Are Just How We Process Things
“Look what just happened at a Travis Scott concert!” yelled Greg Locke, a Pennsylvania pastor, as he paced on stage to appreciative murmurs from his congregation. “If you think that was an accident, you are not paying attention. If you look at the stage setup, if you listen to the lyrics, this was not a […]
Who Goes Crytpo?
On May 4, “Ethereum Classic” popped onto the trending section of my Twitter page. I narrowed my eyes and I laughed. This was around the time when Dogecoin was smashing previous price records, requiring mainstream business pages at places like the New York Times to not only explain to the average reader cryptocurrencies, but that […]
How Do People Join Militias? A Leaked Oath Keepers Roster Has Answers.
How does one come to join a militia? When members of right-wing paramilitary groups explain their motivations to the public, they usually give a set of similar, flattering answers—to protect the constitution, to preserve freedom, or defend their community. But a leaked spreadsheet of Oath Keeper members obtained by Mother Jones sheds some light on what they […]
A Harvard Study Is Going Viral Among Anti-Vaxxers. The Author Says They Are All Wrong.
Anti-vaxxers say that they’ve found a smoking gun: a new blue-chip paper that proves COVID vaccines are ineffective. The vaccine “doesn’t stop you from getting [COVID] at all,” claimed Daniel Horowitz, a senior editor at the Blaze, in in a tweet promoting a column he wrote trumpeting the research. The headline: “Harvard researcher finds absolutely […]
The Facebook Whistleblower Doesn’t Have the Solution
Leaks are generally good. Transparency of powerful institutions is generally good. The person, or people, who provide them are generally doing a noble thing. Frances Haugen, the former Facebook employee who leaked a damning trove of the social media’s internal documents, is no exception. The files that Haugen helped bring to light with the Wall […]