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Friday, March 16, 2018

How Russia Hacked the American Mind

Maya Kosoff
Vanity Fair
Originally posted February 19, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Social media certainly facilitated the Russian campaign. As part of Facebook’s charm offensive, Zuckerberg has since offered tangible fixes, including a plan to verify election advertisements and an effort to emphasize friends, family, and Groups. But Americans’ lack of news literacy transcends Facebook, and was created in part by the Internet itself. As news has shifted from print and television outlets to digital versions of those same outlets to information shared on social-media platforms (still the primary source of news for an overwhelming majority of Americans) audiences failed to keep pace; they never learned to vet the news they consume online.

It’s also a problem we’ve created ourselves. As we’ve become increasingly polarized, news outlets have correspondingly adjusted to cater to our tastes, resulting in a media landscape that’s split into separate, non-overlapping universes of conflicting facts—a world in which Fox News and CNN spout theories about the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that are diametrically opposed. It was this atmosphere that made the U.S. fertile ground for foreign manipulation. As political scientists Jay J. Van Bavel and Andrea Pereira noted in a recent paper, “Partisanship can even alter memory, implicit evaluation, and even perceptual judgment,” fueling an “human attraction to fake and untrustworthy news” that “poses a serious problem for healthy democratic functioning.”

The article is here.