Morning Memo, 3/2/2022
Two articles to read.
Good morning. It’s 3/2/2022. It’s also Ash Wednesday for those that observe it, though I feel that we’ve had enough reminders that we are dust during the COVID Era, and again in Cold War II.
Here are two stories that I’ve come across that are worth sharing.
First, on the global scale, the Wired article “TikTok Was Designed for War” goes into detail about how both vital information as well as misleading disinformation thrive on TikTok and how - again - a social media company has created tools it cannot control or moderate.
From the conclusion:
Social media has long struggled with scale. But just as TikTok’s popularity has soared, collapsing the time taken to reach a billion users from eight years (in the case of Instagram) to four years, while also accelerating the speed at which video clips can go viral, so it has also found itself running into the same old problems.
When TikTok has worked correctly, it has helped the world understand the horrors going on in Ukraine. But when the app’s systems have been gamed by bad actors, it has tainted the world’s understanding of the war and sowed confusion far beyond the normal fog of war. Part of that, says Flores-Saviaga, could be a result of TikTok’s inability to process the scale of information it has created. She points out that on a platform where millions of videos are posted each day, an algorithm and content moderation system with 99 percent reliability would still let vast numbers of videos slip through the net. Fixing it is a million-dollar question, says Flores-Saviaga. “There needs to be a balance,” she says. “And this type of balance is why a lot of disinformation is slipping through the radar.”
Second, this article from Anthea Butler highlights the way elite, politically-connected white evangelicals have held Putin in high regard in the last decade - viewing him as an exemplar of conservative Christian values.
From the article:
Evangelicals are a long way from how they historically thought about Russia and communism. Back in the 1950s, white evangelical leaders like Billy Graham preached against the evils of communism and called then-Soviet states “godless” and a threat to Christianity and America.
Fast-forward to the 21st century, and today’s evangelical leaders, as well as Republicans, have embraced Russia — and, more specifically, Putin. In 2014, Putin made the cover of the evangelical magazine Decision in a piece in which Graham's son Franklin lauded his handling of the Winter Olympics and his protection of Christians. Franklin visited Russia in 2015, and ever since, has promoted Putin as a godly leader. A few days before the invasion of Ukraine, he asked people to “pray for Putin” but not for Ukrainians, creating a decent amount of backlash.
Both of these articles highlight how difficult it can be to maintain a sense of history when we are in a constant state of reaction.
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