• The Mutated Coronavirus Is a Ticking Time Bomb - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    A new variant of the coronavirus is spreading across the globe. It was first identified in the United Kingdom, where it is rapidly spreading, and has been found in multiple countries. Viruses mutate all the time, often with no impact, but this one appears to be more transmissible than other variants—meaning it spreads more easily. Barely one day after officials announced that America’s first case of the variant had been found in the United States, in a Colorado man with no history of travel, an additional case was found in California.

    There are still many unknowns, but much concern has focused on whether this new variant would throw off vaccine efficacy or cause more severe disease—with some degree of relief after an initial study indicated that it did not do either. And while we need more data to feel truly reassured, many scientists believe that this variant will not decrease vaccine efficacy much, if at all. Health officials have started emphasizing the lack of evidence for more severe disease.

    All good and no cause for alarm, right? Wrong.

    A more transmissible variant of COVID-19 is a potential catastrophe in and of itself. If anything, given the stage in the pandemic we are at, a more transmissible variant is in some ways much more dangerous than a more severe variant. That’s because higher transmissibility subjects us to a more contagious virus spreading with exponential growth, whereas the risk from increased severity would have increased in a linear manner, affecting only those infected.

    Increased transmissibility can wreak havoc in a very, very short time—especially when we already have uncontrolled spread in much of the United States. The short-term implications of all this are significant, and worthy of attention, even as we await more clarity from data. In fact, we should act quickly especially as we await more clarity—lack of data and the threat of even faster exponential growth argue for more urgency of action. If and when more reassuring data come in, relaxing restrictions will be easier than undoing the damage done by not having reacted in time.

    Transmissibility increases can quickly—very quickly—expand the baseline: Each new infected person potentially infects many more people. Severity increases affect only the infected person. That infection is certainly tragic, and this new variant’s lack of increase in severity or lethality thankfully means that the variant is not a bigger threat to the individual who may get infected. It is, however, a bigger threat to society because it can dramatically change the number of infected people. To put it another way, a small percentage of a very big number can easily be much, much bigger than a big percentage of a small number.

    We can and should deploy whatever weapons we have in our arsenal, as soon as possible. If public-health officials can accelerate our ability to detect the new variant, they must. “You could imagine case-based interventions specifically targeting the early variant-transmission chains,” Bedford told me. “I wouldn’t expect to contain them, but I could imagine buying a week or two.”

    A week or two may not seem like a lot, but combined with other aggressive public-health measures, we may actually gain a few additional weeks. Maybe all of that could delay this new variant’s widespread establishment until February or even March.

    This moment is somewhat similar to America’s initial COVID-19 surge and shutdown in March. We need to once again talk about the importance of flattening the curve. We need to again preserve hospital capacity, so our fatality rate doesn’t increase. But this time around, we can be a lot more hopeful: We need to flatten the curve because delaying potential infections just a few weeks or a month can make a tremendous difference when highly effective vaccines are being rolled out.

    We are in a race against time, and the virus appears to be gaining an unfortunate ability to sprint just as we get closer to the finish line.

    Maybe—just maybe—this variant will turn out to be a false alarm, not nearly as transmissible as we feared. We will know soon enough. Our precautions will still be net positives. But if it is indeed much more transmissible, we may face a true tragedy: exponential growth with massive numbers of illnesses and deaths just as highly effective vaccines are being made available. We’ve had a year to learn—about the importance of early action, of acting decisively even in the face of uncertainty, of not confusing absence of evidence with evidence of absence. A year to learn to aim not for perfection in knowledge but for maximal impact even while considering the trade-offs. And most important, a year to learn to not wait when faced with threats with exponential dynamics but to act as early and as decisively as we can—and to adjust and tamper later, if warranted.

    “Exponentials are so cruel that nobody wants to look them in the eye,” Morris told me. This is true, but averting our eyes doesn’t avert the outcomes. Each one of us is now counting on every person who serves the public—mayors, city-council members, health officials, nurses, FDA regulators, members of Congress, journalists—to speak up now, and to speak up loudly. We must insist on swift and aggressive action, along with more resources, in order to get this right. It is not too late. Many lives depend on what we do next.

    #Covbid-19 #Vaccin #Zeynep_Tufekci #Stratégie

  • Is Trump Trying to Stage a Coup ? - The Atlantic

    By Zeynep Tufekci

    The U.S. president is trying to steal the election, and, crucially, his party either tacitly approves or is pretending not to see it. This is a particularly dangerous combination, and makes it much more than just typical Trumpian bluster or norm shattering.

    Maybe in other languages, from places with more experience with this particular type of power grab, we’d be better able to discuss the subtleties of this effort, to distinguish the postelection intervention from the Election Day injustices, to separate the legal but frivolous from the outright lawless, and to understand why his party’s reaction—lack of reaction—is not just about wanting to conclude an embarrassing presidency with minimal fanfare. But in English, only one widely understood word captures what Donald Trump is trying to do, even though his acts do not meet its technical definition. Trump is attempting to stage some kind of coup, one that is embedded in a broader and ongoing power grab.

    And if that’s hard to recognize, this might be your first.

    With just a few notable exceptions, Republican officials have met Trump’s lies with a combination of tacit approval, pretending not to notice them, or forbearance. In a recent survey, an alarming 222 Republicans in the House and the Senate—88 percent—refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the presidency. Another two insisted Trump won. A few more have started speaking out, but what has finally taxed their patience seems to be anxiety that Trump’s antics may cost them an upcoming election for two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia—an instrumental concern about continuing to exercise power, rather than a substantive worry about the attempted election theft itself. (It should be noted that there have been conservative voices who have responded with the appropriate fury, but that few are elected officials or leaders of the GOP.)

    What starts as farce may end as tragedy, a lesson that pundits should already have learned from their sneering dismissal of Trump when he first announced his presidential candidacy. Yes, the Trump campaign’s lawsuits are pinnacles of incompetence, too incoherent and embarrassing to go anywhere legally. The legislators who have been openly pressured by Trump don’t seem willing to abide the crassness of his attempt. States are certifying their election results one by one, and the General Services Administration―the agency that oversees presidential transitions—has started the process of handing the government over to President-elect Joe Biden. If things proceed in their ordinary course, the Electoral College will soon vote, and then Biden will take office.

    But ignoring a near catastrophe that was averted by the buffoonish, half-hearted efforts of its would-be perpetrator invites a real catastrophe brought on by someone more competent and ambitious. President Trump had already established a playbook for contesting elections in 2016 by casting doubt on the election process before he won, and insisting that he only lost the popular vote due to fraud. Now he’s establishing a playbook for stealing elections by mobilizing executive, judicial, and legislative power to support the attempt. And worse, much worse, the playbook is being implicitly endorsed by the silence of some leading Republicans, and vocally endorsed by others, even as minority rule becomes increasingly entrenched in the American electoral system.

    When Biden takes the presidential oath in January, many will write articles scolding those who expressed concern about a coup as worrywarts, or as people misusing terminology. But ignoring near misses is how people and societies get in real trouble the next time, and although the academic objections to the terminology aren’t incorrect, the problem is about much more than getting the exact term right.

    Alarmism is problematic when it’s sensationalist. Alarmism is essential when conditions make it appropriate.

    So, yes, the word coup may not technically capture what we’re seeing, but as Pablo Picasso said: “Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.” People are using the term because it captures the sense and the spirit of the moment—its zeitgeist, its underlying truth.

    Our focus should not be a debate about the proper terminology. Instead, we should react to the frightening substance of what we’re facing, even if we also believe that the crassness and the incompetence of this attempt may well doom it this time. If the Republican Party, itself entrenching minority rule on many levels, won’t stand up to Trump’s attempt to steal an election through lying and intimidation with the fury the situation demands; if the Democratic Party’s leadership remains solely focused on preparing for the presidency of Joe Biden rather than talking openly about what’s happening; and if ordinary citizens feel bewildered and disempowered, we may settle the terminological debate in the worst possible way: by accruing enough experience with illegitimate power grabs to evolve a more fine-grained vocabulary.

    Act like this is your first coup, if you want to be sure that it’s also your last.

    #Politique_USA #Zeynep_Tufekci #Coup_Etat #Crise_politique

  • Zeynep Tufekci : Trump Proved That Authoritarians Can Get Elected in America - The Atlantic

    Trump was ineffective and easily beaten. A future strongman won’t be.
    November 6, 2020
    Zeynep Tufekci

    Now that Joe Biden has won the presidency, we can expect debates over whether Donald Trump was an aberration (“not who we are!”) or another instantiation of America’s pathologies and sins. One can reasonably make a case for his deep-rootedness in American traditions, while also noticing the anomalies: the early-morning tweeting, the fondness for mixing personal and government business, the obsession with ratings befitting a reality-TV star—the one job he was good at.

    From an international perspective, though, Trump is just one more example of the many populists on the right who have risen to power around the world: Narendra Modi in India, Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Jarosław Kaczyński in Poland, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, my home country. These people win elections but subvert democratic norms: by criminalizing dissent, suppressing or demonizing the media, harassing the opposition, and deploying extra-legal mechanisms whenever possible (Putin’s opponents have a penchant for meeting tragic accidents). Orbán proudly uses the phrase illiberal democracy to describe the populism practiced by these men; Trump has many similarities to them, both rhetorically and policy-wise.
    More by this writer

    He campaigned like they did, too, railing against the particular form of globalization that dominates this era and brings benefit to many, but disproportionately to the wealthy, leaving behind large numbers of people, especially in wealthier countries. He relied on the traditional herrenvolk idea of ethnonationalist populism: supporting a kind of welfare state, but only for the “right” people rather than the undeserving others (the immigrants, the minorities) who allegedly usurp those benefits. He channeled and fueled the widespread mistrust of many centrist-liberal democratic institutions (the press, most notably) —just like the other populists. And so on.

    But there’s one key difference between Trump and everyone else on that list. The others are all talented politicians who win elections again and again.

    In contrast, Trump is a reality-TV star who stumbled his way into an ongoing realignment in American politics, aided by a series of events peculiar to 2016 that were fortunate for him: The Democrats chose a polarizing nominee who didn’t have the requisite political touch that can come from surviving tough elections; social media was, by that point, deeply entrenched in the country’s politics, but its corrosive effects were largely unchecked; multiple players—such as then–FBI Director James Comey—took consequential actions fueled by their misplaced confidence in Hillary Clinton’s win; and Trump’s rivals in the Republican primaries underestimated him. He drew a royal flush.

    It’s not that he is completely without talent. His rallies effectively let him bond with his base, and test out various messages with the crowd that he would then amplify everywhere. He has an intuitive understanding of the power of attention, and he played the traditional media like a fiddle—they benefited from his antics, which they boosted. He also clearly sensed the political moment in 2016, and managed to navigate his way into the presidency, though that probably had more to do with instinct than with deep planning.

    Luck aside, though, Trump is not good at his job. He doesn’t even seem to like it much. He is too undisciplined and thin-skinned to be effective at politics over a sustained period, which involves winning repeated elections. He seems to have been as surprised as anyone else that he won in 2016. While he hates the loser branding that will follow him now, he’s probably fine with the outcome—especially since he can blame it on fantastical conspiracies involving theft or ballot-stuffing or the courts—as long as he can figure out how to escape the criminal trials that are certainly coming his way. (A self-pardon? A negotiated pardon? He will try something.)

    Trump ran like a populist, but he lacked the political talent or competence to govern like an effective one. Remember the Infrastructure Week he promised? It never happened. Remember the trade wars with China he said he’d win? Some tariffs were raised here and there, but the jobs that would bring relief to America’s decimated manufacturing sector never resurged. In Wisconsin in 2018, the president announced “the eighth wonder of the world”—a Foxconn factory that was supposed to employ 13,000 in return for $4.5 billion in government subsidies. However, going into this election, the building remained empty, and the president lost Wisconsin in the Electoral College. (Foxconn hired people in the final weeks of 2019 to fulfill quotas for the subsidies, and laid off many of them right after the new year.) Most populists globally deploy wide patronage networks: state spending that boosts their own supporters. Trump’s model remained attached more to personal graft: He encouraged people to stay in his hotels and have dinner at Mar-a-Lago in exchange for access, rather than develop a broad and participatory network that would remain loyal to him for years. And when the pandemic hit, instead of rising to the occasion and playing the strongman, rallying the country through a crisis that had originated in China—an opportunity perfect for the kind of populist he aspired to be—he floundered.

    Erdoğan has been in power nationally since 2003. After two decades, he has arguably lost some of his political magic, evinced by increasing missteps and a deteriorating situation around democratic rights. Still, he is among the most talented politicians in Turkey’s history. He has been able to navigate multiple challenges, including a previous global financial crisis. In Russia, Putin has won many elections, even managing to subvert term limits. In India, Modi has also been reelected. One could argue that these elections were far from perfect, but they were elections. Brazil’s Bolsonaro has bungled his country’s response to the pandemic but is giving the poor emergency aid and increasing his popularity. The CARES Act did the same thing, providing a significant subsidy to businesses and improving household finances, especially for people with low incomes, but it ended right before the election; Trump erratically tweeted about having nuked a new deal.

    I suspect that the Republican leadership is sanguine, if not happy, about Trump’s loss. It’s striking how quickly Fox News called Arizona for Biden, and how many Republican leaders have condemned the president’s rage-tweeting and attempts to stop the count. They know that Trump is done, and they seem fine with it. For them, what’s not to like? The Supreme Court is solidly in their corner; they will likely retain control of the Senate; House Republicans won more seats than they were projected to; and they are looking at significant gains in state Houses as well, giving them control over redistricting for the next decade. Even better for their long-term project, they have diversified their own coalition, gaining more women candidates and more support from nonwhite voters.

    And they have at their disposal certain features that can be mobilized: The Electoral College and especially the Senate are anti-majoritarian institutions, and they can be combined with other efforts to subvert majority rule. Leaders and parties can engage in voter suppression and break norms with some degree of bipartisan cooperation across the government. In combination, these features allow for players to engage in a hardball kind of minority rule: Remember that no Republican president has won the popular vote since 2004, and that the Senate is structurally prone to domination by a minority. Yet Republicans have tremendous power. This dynamic occurs at the local level, too, where gerrymandering allows Republicans to inflate their representation in state legislatures.

    The situation is a perfect setup, in other words, for a talented politician to run on Trumpism in 2024. A person without the eager Twitter fingers and greedy hotel chains, someone with a penchant for governing rather than golf. An individual who does not irritate everyone who doesn’t already like him, and someone whose wife looks at him adoringly instead of slapping his hand away too many times in public. Someone who isn’t on tape boasting about assaulting women, and who says the right things about military veterans. Someone who can send appropriate condolences about senators who die, instead of angering their state’s voters, as Trump did, perhaps to his detriment, in Arizona. A norm-subverting strongman who can create a durable majority and keep his coalition together to win more elections.

    Make no mistake: The attempt to harness Trumpism—without Trump, but with calculated, refined, and smarter political talent—is coming. And it won’t be easy to make the next Trumpist a one-term president. He will not be so clumsy or vulnerable. He will get into office less by luck than by skill. Perhaps it will be Senator Josh Hawley, who is writing a book against Big Tech because he knows that will be the next chapter in the culture wars, with social-media companies joining “fake news” as the enemy. Perhaps it will be Senator Tom Cotton, running as a law-and-order leader with a populist bent. Maybe it will be another media figure: Tucker Carlson or Joe Rogan, both men with talent and followings. Perhaps it will be another Sarah Palin—she was a prototype—with the charisma and appeal but without the baggage and the need for a presidential candidate to pluck her out of the blue. Perhaps someone like the QAnon-supporting Representative-elect Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who first beat the traditional Republican representative in the primary and then ran her race with guns blazing, mask off, and won against the Democratic candidate, a retired professor who avoided campaigning in person. Indeed, a self-made charismatic person coming out of nowhere probably has a better chance than many establishment figures in the party.

    What can be done? First and foremost, we need to realize the nature of the problem and accept that elite failure cannot be responded to with more of the same. A good deal of the Democratic Party’s messaging has been wrapped in nostalgia. But populism’s resurgence is a symptom of the failures of the past. Pearl-clutching for the good old days will not get us out of this. Yes, it’s important to highlight the value of norms and call for the restoration of democratic institutions. But what we need in order to move forward goes beyond more politeness and the right rhetoric. The failures of the past aren’t to be yearned for. They’re to be avoided and, crucially, understood and fixed. There will be arguments about how to rebuild a politics that can appeal to the moment, and how to mobilize for the future. There should be. Our American crisis cannot be resolved in one sweeping article that offers easy solutions. But the first step is to realize how deep this hole is for democracies around the world, including ours, and to realize that what lies ahead is not some easy comeback.

    At the moment, the Democratic Party risks celebrating Trump’s loss and moving on—an acute danger, especially because many of its constituencies, the ones that drove Trump’s loss, are understandably tired. A political nap for a few years probably looks appealing to many who opposed Trump, but the real message of this election is not that Trump lost and Democrats triumphed. It’s that a weak and untalented politician lost, while the rest of his party has completely entrenched its power over every other branch of government: the perfect setup for a talented right-wing populist to sweep into office in 2024. And make no mistake: They’re all thinking about it.

    We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
    Zeynep Tufekci is a contributing writer at The Atlantic and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina. She studies the interaction between digital technology, artificial intelligence, and society.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Elections #Politique_US #Autoritarisme

  • Opinion | Mark Zuckerberg, Let Me Pay for Facebook - The New York Times | Zeynep Tufekci, 2015.

    Facebook and other social networking sites that collect vast amounts of user data are financed by ads. Just this week Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, announced plans to open users’ feeds to more advertisers. The dirty secret of this business model is that Internet ads aren’t worth much. Ask Ethan Zuckerman, who in the 1990s helped found Tripod.com, one of the web’s earliest ad-financed sites with user-generated content. He even helped invent the pop-up ad because corporations were wary of the user content appearing next to their ads. He came to regret both: the pop-up and the ad-financed business model. The former is annoying but it’s the latter that is helping destroy the fabric of a rich, pluralistic Internet.

    Mr. Zuckerman points out that Facebook makes about 20 cents per user per month in profit. This is a pitiful sum, especially since the average user spends an impressive 20 hours on Facebook every month, according to the company. This paltry profit margin drives the business model: Internet ads are basically worthless unless they are hyper-targeted based on tracking and extensive profiling of users. This is a bad bargain, especially since two-thirds of American adults don’t want ads that target them based on that tracking and analysis of personal behavior.

    Ad-based businesses distort our online interactions. People flock to Internet platforms because they help us connect with one another or the world’s bounty of information — a crucial, valuable function. Yet ad-based financing means that the companies have an interest in manipulating our attention on behalf of advertisers, instead of letting us connect as we wish. Many users think their feed shows everything that their friends post. It doesn’t. Facebook runs its billion-plus users’ newsfeed by a proprietary, ever-changing algorithm that decides what we see. If Facebook didn’t have to control the feed to keep us on the site longer and to inject ads into our stream, it could instead offer us control over this algorithm.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Facebook #Publicité #Ciblage

  • How Zeynep Tufekci Keeps Getting the Big Things Right - The New York Times

    Ms. Tufekci, a computer programmer who became a sociologist, sounded an early alarm on the need for protective masks. It wasn’t the first time she was right about something big.

    In recent years, many public voices have gotten the big things wrong — election forecasts, the effects of digital media on American politics, the risk of a pandemic. Ms. Tufekci, a 40-something who speaks a mile a minute with a light Turkish accent, has none of the trappings of the celebrity academic or the professional pundit. But long before she became perhaps the only good amateur epidemiologist, she had quietly made a habit of being right on the big things.

    In 2011, she went against the current to say the case for Twitter as a driver of broad social movements had been oversimplified. In 2012, she warned news media outlets that their coverage of school shootings could inspire more. In 2013, she argued that Facebook could fuel ethnic cleansing. In 2017, she warned that YouTube’s recommendation algorithm could be used as a tool of radicalization.

    And when it came to the pandemic, she sounded the alarm early while also fighting to keep parks and beaches open.

    “I’ve just been struck by how right she has been,” said Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School.

    I was curious to know how Ms. Tufekci had gotten so many things right in a confusing time, so we spoke last week over FaceTime. She told me she chalks up her habits of mind in part to a childhood she wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    Add those things to a skill at moving journalism and policy through a kind of inside game, and Ms. Tufekci has had a remarkable impact. But it began, she says, with growing up in an unhappy home in Istanbul. She said her alcoholic mother was liable to toss her into the street in the early hours of the morning. She found some solace in science fiction — Ursula K. Le Guin was a favorite — and in the optimistic, early internet.

    In the mid-1990s, still a teenager, she moved out. Soon she found a job nearby as a programmer for IBM. She was an office misfit, a casually dressed young woman among the suits, but she fell in love with the company’s internal bulletin board. She liked it that a colleague in Japan wouldn’t know her age or gender when she asked a technical question.

    She stumbled onto the wellspring of her career when she discovered an email list, the Zapatista Solidarity Network, centered on Indigenous activists in southern Mexico who had taken up arms against neoliberalism in general and land privatization imposed by the North American Free Trade Agreement in particular. For Ms. Tufekci, the network provided a community of digital friends and intellectual sparring partners.

    Je suis pleinement d’accord avec cette analyse. Le 1 janvier 1994, à San Cristobal de Las casas, un nouveau monde militant naissait. Nous en mangeons encore les fruits.

    Ms. Tufekci is the only person I’ve ever spoken with who believes that the modern age began with Zapatista Solidarity. For her, it was a first flicker of the “bottom-up globalization” that she sees as the shadow of capitalism’s glossy spread. She claims that her theory has nothing to do with how the movement affected her personally.

    While many American thinkers were wide-eyed about the revolutionary potential of social media, she developed a more complex view, one she expressed when she found herself sitting to the left of Teddy Goff, the digital director for President Obama’s re-election campaign, at a South by Southwest panel in Austin in 2012.

    Mr. Goff was enthusing about the campaign’s ability to send different messages to individual voters based on the digital data it had gathered about them. Ms. Tufekci quickly objected to the practice, saying that microtargeting would more likely be used to sow division.

    More than four years later, after Donald J. Trump won the 2016 election, Mr. Goff sent Ms. Tufekci a note saying she had been right.

    “At a time when everybody was being stupidly optimistic about the potential of the internet, she didn’t buy the hype,” he told me. “She was very prescient in seeing that there would be a deeper rot to the role of data-driven politics in our world.”

    That optimism is part of what got her into the literature of pandemics. Ms. Tufekci has taught epidemiology as a way to introduce her students to globalization and to make a point about human nature: Politicians and the news media often expect looting and crime when disaster strikes, as they did when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. But the reality on the ground has more to do with communal acts of generosity and kindness, she believes.

    Public health officials seem to have had an ulterior motive when they told citizens that masks were useless: They were trying to stave off a run on protective gear that could have made it unavailable for the health care workers who needed it. Ms. Tufekci’s faith in human nature has led her to believe that the government should have trusted citizens enough to level with them, rather than jeopardize its credibility with recommendations it would later overturn.

    “They didn’t trust us to tell the truth on masks,” she said. “We think of society as this Hobbesian thing, as opposed to the reality where most people are very friendly, most people are prone to solidarity.”

    Now I find myself wondering: What is she right about now? And what are the rest of us wrong about?

    An area where she might be ahead of the pack is the effects of social media on society. It’s a debate she views as worryingly binary, detached from plausible solutions, with journalists homing in on the personal morality of tech heads like Mark Zuckerberg as they assume the role of mall cops for the platforms they cover.

    “The real question is not whether Zuck is doing what I like or not,” she said. “The real question is why he’s getting to decide what hate speech is.”

    She also suggested that we may get it wrong when we focus on individuals — on chief executives, on social media activists like her. The probable answer to a media environment that amplifies false reports and hate speech, she believes, is the return of functional governments, along with the birth of a new framework, however imperfect, that will hold the digital platforms responsible for what they host.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Portrait #Epidémiologie #Sociologie

  • Why Aren’t We Talking More About Ventilation ? - The Atlantic

    How is it that six months into a respiratory pandemic, we are still doing so little to mitigate airborne transmission?
    Zeynep Tufekci
    July 30, 2020

    The coronavirus reproduces in our upper and lower respiratory tracts, and is emitted when we breathe, talk, sing, cough, or sneeze. Figuring out how a pathogen can travel, and how far, under what conditions, and infect others—transmission—is no small deal, because that information enables us to figure out how to effectively combat the virus. For COVID-19, perhaps the most important dispute centers specifically on what proportion of what size droplets are emitted from infected people, and how infectious those droplets are, and how they travel. That the debate over the virus’s modes of transmission is far from over is not a surprise. It’s a novel pathogen. The Columbia University virologist Angela Rasmussen told me that, historically, it took centuries to understand how pathogens such as the plague, smallpox, and yellow fever were transmitted and how they worked. Even with modern science, there are still debates about how influenza, a common annual foe, is transmitted.

    There is a big dispute in the scientific community, however, about both the size and the behavior of these particles, and the resolution of that question would change many recommendations about staying safe. Many scientists believe that the virus is emitted from our mouths also in much smaller particles, which are infectious but also tiny enough that they can remain suspended in the air, float around, be pushed by air currents, and accumulate in enclosed spaces—because of their small size, they are not as subject to gravity’s downward pull. Don Milton, a medical doctor and an environmental-health professor at the University of Maryland, compares larger droplets “to the spray from a Windex dispenser” and the smaller, airborne particles (aerosols) “to the mist from an ultrasonic humidifier.” Clearly, it’s enough to merely step back—distance—to avoid the former, but distancing alone would not be enough to avoid breathing in the latter.

    In multiple studies, researchers have found that COVID-19’s secondary attack rate, the proportion of susceptible people that one sick person will infect in a circumscribed setting, such as a household or dormitory, can be as low as 10 to 20 percent. In fact, many experts I spoke with remarked that COVID-19 was less contagious than many other pathogens, except when it seemed to occasionally go wild in super-spreader events, infecting large numbers of people at once, across distances much greater than the droplet range of three to six feet. Those who argue that COVID-19 can spread through aerosol routes point to the prevalence and conditions of these super-spreader events as one of the most important pieces of evidence for airborne transmission.

    All this has many practical consequences. As Marr, from Virginia Tech, says, if aerosols are crucial, we should focus as much on ventilation as we do on distancing, masks, and hand-washing, which every expert agrees are important. As the virologist Ryan McNamara of the University of North Carolina told me, all these protections stack on top of one another: The more tools we have to deploy against COVID-19, the better off we are. But, it’s still important for the public to have the correct mental model of the reasoning behind all the mitigations, since even those agreed-upon protections don’t all behave the same way under an aerosol regime.

    As another example, you may have seen the many televised indoor events where the audience members are sitting politely distanced and masked, listening to the speaker, who is the only unmasked person in the room. Jimenez, the aerosol expert, pointed out to me that this is completely backwards, because the person who needs to be masked the most is the speaker, not the listeners. If a single mask were available in the room, we’d put it on the speaker. This is especially important because cloth masks, while excellent at blocking droplets (especially before they evaporate and become smaller, thus more likely to be able to float), aren’t as effective at keeping tinier aerosol particles out of the wearer’s mouth and nose once they are floating around the room (though they do seem to help). We want to see the speaker’s mouth, one might say, but that is a problem we can approach creatively—face shields that wrap around the head and seal around the neck, masks with transparent portions that can still filter, etc.—once we stop ignoring the problem. In fact, designing a high-filtration but transparent mask or face shield might be an important solution in classrooms as well, to help keep teachers safe.

    Once we pay attention to airflow, many other risks look different. Dylan Morris, a doctoral candidate at Princeton and a co-author of the first paper to confirm that the virus could remain infectious in aerosolized form, under experimental conditions, showed me a clip of a group of people in a conga line, separated six feet apart by ropes. They were merrily dancing, everyone standing behind someone else, in their slipstream—exactly where you don’t want to be, inhaling aerosol clouds from panting people. Similarly, Jimenez pointed out that, when a masked person is speaking, the least safe location might be beside them or behind them, where the aerosols can escape from the mask, though ordinarily, under a droplet regime, we would consider the risk to only be in front of them. The importance of aerosols may even help explain why the disease is now exploding in the southern United States, where people often go into air-conditioned spaces to avoid the sweltering heat.

    There are two key mitigation strategies for countering poor ventilation and virus-laden aerosols indoors: We can dilute viral particles’ presence by exchanging air in the room with air from outside (and thus lowering the dose, which matters for the possibility and the severity of infection) or we can remove viral particles from the air with filters.

    Consider schools, perhaps the most fraught topic for millions. Classrooms are places of a lot of talking; children are not going to be perfect at social distancing; and the more people in a room, the more opportunities for aerosols to accumulate if the ventilation is poor. Most of these ventilation issues are addressable, sometimes by free or inexpensive methods, and sometimes by costly investments in infrastructure that should be a national priority.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Aerosol #Ventilation #COVID-19

  • The Second Act of Social-Media Activism | The New Yorker

    Un article passionnant qui part des analyses de Zeynep Tufekci pour les reconsidérer à partir des mouvements plus récents.

    Some of this story may seem familiar. In “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest,” from 2017, the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci examined how a “digitally networked public sphere” had come to shape social movements. Tufekci drew on her own experience of the 2011 Arab uprisings, whose early mobilization of social media set the stage for the protests at Gezi Park, in Istanbul, the Occupy action, in New York City, and the Black Lives Matter movement, in Ferguson. For Tufekci, the use of the Internet linked these various, decentralized uprisings and distinguished them from predecessors such as the nineteen-sixties civil-rights movement. Whereas “older movements had to build their organizing capacity first,” Tufekci argued, “modern networked movements can scale up quickly and take care of all sorts of logistical tasks without building any substantial organizational capacity before the first protest or march.”

    The speed afforded by such protest is, however, as much its peril as its promise. After a swift expansion, spontaneous movements are often prone to what Tufekci calls “tactical freezes.” Because they are often leaderless, and can lack “both the culture and the infrastructure for making collective decisions,” they are left with little room to adjust strategies or negotiate demands. At a more fundamental level, social media’s corporate infrastructure makes such movements vulnerable to coöptation and censorship. Tufekci is clear-eyed about these pitfalls, even as she rejects the broader criticisms of “slacktivism” laid out, for example, by Evgeny Morozov’s “The Net Delusion,” from 2011.

    “Twitter and Tear Gas” remains trenchant about how social media can and cannot enact reform. But movements change, as does technology. Since Tufekci’s book was published, social media has helped represent—and, in some cases, helped organize—the Arab Spring 2.0, France’s “Yellow Vest” movement, Puerto Rico’s RickyLeaks, the 2019 Iranian protests, the Hong Kong protests, and what we might call the B.L.M. uprising of 2020. This last event, still ongoing, has evinced a scale, creativity, and endurance that challenges those skeptical of the Internet’s ability to mediate a movement. As Tufekci notes in her book, the real-world effects of Occupy, the Women’s March, and even Ferguson-era B.L.M. were often underwhelming. By contrast, since George Floyd’s death, cities have cut billions of dollars from police budgets; school districts have severed ties with police; multiple police-reform-and-accountability bills have been introduced in Congress; and cities like Minneapolis have vowed to defund policing. Plenty of work remains, but the link between activism, the Internet, and material action seems to have deepened. What’s changed?

    The current uprisings slot neatly into Tufekci’s story, with one exception. As the flurry of digital activism continues, there is no sense that this movement is unclear about its aims—abolition—or that it might collapse under a tactical freeze. Instead, the many protest guides, syllabi, Webinars, and the like have made clear both the objectives of abolition and the digital savvy of abolitionists. It is a message so legible that even Fox News grasped it with relative ease. Rachel Kuo, an organizer and scholar of digital activism, told me that this clarity has been shaped partly by organizers who increasingly rely on “a combination of digital platforms, whether that’s Google Drive, Signal, Messenger, Slack, or other combinations of software, for collaboration, information storage, resource access, and daily communications.” The public tends to focus, understandably, on the profusion of hashtags and sleek graphics, but Kuo stressed that it was this “back end” work—an inventory of knowledge, a stronger sense of alliance—that has allowed digital activism to “reflect broader concerns and visions around community safety, accessibility, and accountability.” The uprisings might have unfolded organically, but what has sustained them is precisely what many prior networked protests lacked: preëxisting organizations with specific demands for a better world.

    What’s distinct about the current movement is not just the clarity of its messaging, but its ability to convey that message through so much noise. On June 2nd, the music industry launched #BlackoutTuesday, an action against police brutality that involved, among other things, Instagram and Facebook users posting plain black boxes to their accounts. The posts often included the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter; almost immediately, social-media users were inundated with even more posts, which explained why using that hashtag drowned out crucial information about events and resources with a sea of mute boxes. For Meredith Clark, a media-studies professor at the University of Virginia, the response illustrated how the B.L.M. movement had honed its ability to stick to a program, and to correct those who deployed that program naïvely. In 2014, many people had only a thin sense of how a hashtag could organize actions or establish circles of care. Today, “people understand what it means to use a hashtag,” Clark told me. They use “their own social media in a certain way to essentially quiet background noise” and “allow those voices that need to connect with each other the space to do so.” The #BlackoutTuesday affair exemplified an increasing awareness of how digital tactics have material consequences.

    These networks suggest that digital activism has entered a second act, in which the tools of the Internet have been increasingly integrated into the hard-won structure of older movements. Though, as networked protest grows in scale and popularity, it still risks being hijacked by the mainstream. Any urgent circulation of information—the same memes filtering through your Instagram stories, the same looping images retweeted into your timeline—can be numbing, and any shift in the Overton window means that hegemony drifts with it.

    In “Twitter and Tear Gas,” Tufekci wrote, “The Black Lives Matter movement is young, and how it will develop further capacities remains to be seen.” The movement is older now. It has developed its tactics, its messaging, its reach—but perhaps its most striking new capacity is a sharper recognition of social media’s limits. “This movement has mastered what social media is good for,” Deva Woodly, a professor of politics at the New School, told me. “And that’s basically the meme: it’s the headline.” Those memes, Woodley said, help “codify the message” that leads to broader, deeper conversations offline, which, in turn, build on a long history of radical pedagogy. As more and more of us join those conversations, prompted by the words and images we see on our screens, it’s clear that the revolution will not be tweeted—at least, not entirely.

    #Activisme_connecté #Black_lives_matter #Zeynep_Tufekci #Mèmes #Hashtag_movments #Médias_sociaux

  • Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes |

    Voici près de dix ans, les soulèvements du monde arabe suscitaient les louanges des observateurs sur les « révolutions Facebook », qui dressaient un parallèle entre révolte technologique et émancipation politique. Cet excès de technophilie avait été suivi d’un reflux, s’appuyant notamment sur les analyses d’Evgeny Morozov dans The Net Delusion : The Dark Side of Internet Freedom (PublicAffairs, 2012). Au fur et à mesure que les régimes autoritaires recouraient aux outils numériques à des fins de surveillance et de répression, l’approche pessimiste devait l’emporter, reléguant à l’arrière-plan les travaux faisant le lien entre les mobilisations et internet.

    C’est ce biais que vise à dépasser Zeynep Tufekci en examinant ici les mutations que subissent les revendications collectives à l’ère du foisonnement numérique, sans pour autant leur accorder un statut seulement positif. La méthode de l’auteure se veut la plus large possible : expériences personnelles, observations participantes, entretiens avec des activistes, analyses de bases de données et observations de comportements en ligne conduisent le lecteur de l’Égypte aux États-Unis, en passant par le Liban, la Tunisie et la Turquie.

    L’auteure accorde ici une place centrale à l’enjeu de l’organisation, qui permet d’expliquer l’échec de la plupart des mouvements, une fois passée la manifestation (Gezi, Occupy, etc.). Zeynep Tufekci lie cet échec à la fois à la culture politique de ces mouvements et aux outils dont ils disposent, qui exacerbent leurs forces – la rapidité de mobilisation, la viralité – mais aussi leurs faiblesses. L’absence de leaders se révèle vite une faiblesse, qui les pénalise à deux moments essentiels : lors des négociations, puisque les mouvements ne sont pas reconnus par la partie adverse, et dès qu’il s’agit d’opérer des changements tactiques.

    Depuis 2011, les régimes ont aussi appris. Les manifestations à l’ère des médias sociaux, certes parfois massives, peuvent être réprimées, comme en Égypte, ou récemment, à Hong Kong. Les pouvoirs redoublent souvent de créativité face aux mouvements contestataires, utilisent les médias sociaux comme ressources stratégiques pour distraire les populations, semer la peur, le doute, rendre illégitimes certaines sources d’information. La censure est alors renouvelée : en Chine par exemple, les publications censurées sont moins celles qui critiquent les autorités que celles qui sont susceptibles de susciter des mobilisations collectives.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Twitter_gaz_lacrymogènes

  • Entretien avec Zeynep Tufekci : la technosociologue qui prédisait les mouvements sociaux à l’aune du numérique

    Ces derniers temps, les mouvements sociaux se multiplient. Et la diffusion des manifestations qu’ils génèrent se fait désormais en grande partie sur les réseaux sociaux. Comment Internet et les réseaux sociaux ont-ils bouleversé notre manière de nous mobiliser ?

    Souvenez-vous c’était il y a près de 10 ans. Les peuples arabes se soulevaient entraînant la chute de plusieurs leaders politiques à la tête de ces pays. Ainsi naissait le Printemps Arabe. Et si cette période est l’un des faits majeurs du XXIème siècle, la diffusion des événements par les réseaux sociaux n’y est pas étrangère. Devenue aujourd’hui une pratique courante où chaque individu peut devenir son propre média, ils sont les nouveaux modèles de transmission de messages politiques. Mais au-delà d’une diffusion devenue la règle, quel est l’impact de ces messages dans la sphère politique ? Quelles sont les forces et les fragilités d’une mobilisation qui se fait désormais autant en ligne que dans la rue ?

    Pour en discuter, notre invitée du jour est Zeynep Tufekci, professeure à l’Université de Caroline du Nord et autrice de Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes, forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée
    Hong Kong et les États-Unis, une gestion de la crise distincte

    « De tout point de vue, il y aurait dû avoir une énorme crise à Hong Kong. Les flux sont extrêmement importants avec la Chine. La ville est l’une des plus denses du monde et le virus pouvait facilement circuler. Mais dès que l’information sur le virus a été connue, les habitants de la ville ont directement réagi à la pandémie. Dès le mois de janvier, ils ont mis des masques. Et la mobilisation de la ville face au virus s’est faite par le bas. La population a réagi bien plus rapidement que le gouvernement. »

    Aux États-Unis, nous n’avons toujours pas de direction unifiée. À ce jour, il n’y a pas ou peu de suivi des gens qui sont infectés par le coronavirus, il n’y a pas assez de masques et il n’y a pas eu de réponse de la base. Le gouvernement n’a pas fait son boulot et le résultat c’est que les États-Unis sont pour l’heure le pays avec le nombre de cas le plus important dans le monde. Et c’est inacceptable pour un pays doté de telles ressources. Zeynep Tufekci

    Le Printemps arabe, point de départ d’une contestation devenue connectée

    « Khaled Saïd était un jeune Égyptien arrêté et mort sous la torture de la police égyptienne en 2010. Et la photo de son corps torturé a circulé à cette époque sur les réseaux et a fait écho bien au-delà des frontières égyptiennes. Une page Facebook à son honneur a été créée et a été un élément déclencheur qui a permis aux gens de s’exprimer sur quelque chose déjà présent mais impossible à dire à cette époque sous une autre forme que sur les réseaux à cause de la trop grande censure. »

    Parfois on voit des choses qui se produisent chez nous bien avant qu’ils ne se déroulent dans le reste du monde. J’ai grandi à l’époque d’un coup d’État militaire en Turquie. C’était ma première expérience d’un pays faisant face à une censure très stricte. Et lorsque Internet est arrivé, je me suis dit que ça serait extraordinaire et que son pouvoir pour changer le monde serait immense. Et puis il y a eu le Printemps Arabe. Ce que j’ai découvert c’est qu’Internet a aidé ces mouvements et mobilisations à se développer et à faire tomber les régimes. Mais la population a grandement souffert, la répression faite était extrêmement sévère. Zeynep Tufekci

    Les plateformes numériques, acteurs du bouleversement des sociétés mondialisés

    « Les plateformes ont un pouvoir énorme. Facebook est dirigé par une seule personne. En raison de la structure de l’entreprise, Mark Zuckerberg possède un pouvoir énorme. Dans beaucoup de pays, le seul endroit où vous avez accès à l’information c’est via Facebook. Et nous sommes en plein dans une révolution numérique. J’aimerais qu’on minimise le pouvoir de certaines entreprises. Il faut savoir contrôler ce pouvoir disproportionné que possèdent certaines sociétés. »

    Il faut se rendre compte à quel point la désinformation se répand sur Internet et sur les plateformes numériques. Les sociétés et les grandes compagnies qui propagent des fausses informations gagnent plus d’argent à faire cela. Nous sommes tentés et vulnérables face à cette désinformation. (…) Nous avons besoin de nous concentrer sur ce que voient les gens et pourquoi elles voient ces choses. Ce qui m’inquiète c’est la viralité d’internet. Il faut réussir à créer des sociétés et des infrastructures saines. Zeynep Tufekci

    Vous pouvez (ré)écouter l’interview en intégralité en cliquant sur le player en haut à gauche de cette page.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #France_Culture #Extraits_interview

  • Jeudi 11 juin, Zeynep Tufekci invitée des Matins de France Culture

    Zeynep Tufekci, l’autrice de « Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes » sera ce jeudi 11 juin l’invitée exceptionnelle des Matins de France Culture. Elle sera interviewée par Guillaume Erner de 7h45 à 8h45.

    L’occasion, en direct ou en podcast, de mieux connaître cette « technosociologue » dont nous avons publié la traduction française (par Anne Lemoine, qui a fait un excellent travail).

    Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes
    Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée
    Zeynep Tufekci
    ISBN 978-2-915825-95-4 - 430 p. - 29 €

    Zeynep Tufekci est de plus en plus remarquée aux États-Unis et partout dans le monde pour les suites qu’elle a donné à son livre, en particulier dans des éditoriaux dans The Atlantic ou The New York Times. Elle a été, dès le mois de janvier, une des premières à promouvoir la « distanciation sociale » et le port du masque, quand son pays ne croyais pas au virus. Elle revenait de Hong Kong et avait pu comprendre la situation. De même, elle est en pointe sur les questions des médias sociaux et de l’élection de Trump (notamment le débat actuel entre Twitter et Facebook). Elle est enfin partie prenante des mobilisations anti-racistes qui secouent les États-Unis (et qui s’étendent, notamment chez nous). Le bon moment pour une interview.

    Je vous mets ci-après pour celles et ceux qui lisent l’anglais une liste de référence de ses articles récents sur ces sujets.

    Nous avons également produit un petit livre numérique autour de Zeynep Tufekci, intitulé « Le monde révolté ». Celui-ci comporte la traduction d’un texte autobiographique de Zeynep et un long article de Gus Massiah. Il est gratuit (complètement, on ne demande même pas de mail ou autre, cadeau on vous dit). Vous pouvez l’obtenir à :

    Bonne écoute et bonne lecture,

    Hervé Le Crosnier

    Voici quelques références récentes sur les publications de Zeynep Tufekci en anglais pour celles et ceux qui lisent la langue de Shakespeare.

    Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S. - Scientific American Blog Network

    Opinion | Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired - The New York Times

    What Really Doomed America’s Coronavirus Response - The Atlantic

    Closing the Parks Is Ineffective Pandemic Theater - The Atlantic

    Don’t Wear a Mask for Yourself - The Atlantic

    Trump’s Executive Order Isn’t About Twitter - The Atlantic

    The Case for Social Media Mobs - The Atlantic

    How a Bad App—Not the Russians—Plunged Iowa Into Chaos - The Atlantic

    Hong Kong Protests : Inside the Chaos - The Atlantic

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #France_Culture

  • How a Bad App—Not the Russians—Plunged Iowa Into Chaos - The Atlantic

    You may be wondering if the Iowa caucus chaos is a hit job by election-meddling Russians. The morning after caucus-goers filed into high-school gyms across Iowa, the state’s Democratic Party is still unable to produce results. The app it developed for precisely this purpose seems to have crashed. The party was questioned before by experts about the wisdom of using a secretive app that would be deployed at a crucial juncture, but the concerns were brushed away. Troy Price, the state party’s chairman, claimed that if anything went wrong with the app, staffers would be ready “with a backup and a backup to that backup and a backup to the backup to the backup.” And yet, more than 12 hours after the end of the caucus, they are unable to produce results. Last night, some precinct officials even waited on hold for an hour to report the results—and got hung up on.

    If the Russians were responsible for this confusion and disarray, that might be a relatively easy problem to fix. This is worse.

    It appears that the Iowa Democrats nixed the plan to have precincts call in their results, and instead hired a for-profit tech firm, aptly named Shadow, to tally the caucus results. (As if the name weren’t enough to fuel conspiracies, the firm is run by an alum of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.) The party paid Shadow $60,000 to develop an app that would tally the results, but gave the company only two months to do it. Worried about Russian hacking, the party addressed security in all the wrong ways: It did not open up the app to outside testing or challenge by independent security experts.

    This method is sometimes dubbed “security through obscurity,” and while there are instances for which it might be appropriate, it is a fragile method, especially unsuited to anything public on the internet that might invite an attack. For example, putting a spare key in a secret place in your backyard isn’t a terrible practice, because the odds are low that someone will be highly motivated to break into any given house and manage to look exactly in the right place (well, unless you put it under the mat). But when there are more significant incentives and the system is open to challenge by anyone in the world, as with anything on the internet, someone will likely find a way to get the keys, as the Motion Picture Association of America found out when its supposedly obscure digital keys, meant to prevent copyright infringement, quickly leaked. Shadow’s app was going to be used widely on caucus day, and independent security experts warned that this method wasn’t going to work. The company didn’t listen.

    But why bother hacking the system? Anything developed this rapidly that has not been properly stress-tested—and is being used in the wild by thousands of people at the same time—is likely to crash the first time it is deployed.

    There never should have been an app. There are officials responsible for precinct results, but there are also representatives of campaigns on the ground in every precinct. Even without a more substantial reform of the complex and demanding caucus process, a simple adversarial confirmation system (a process used by many countries) would have worked well.

    America already knows how to do election integrity. The National Academy of Sciences released a lengthy report about it last year, complete with evidence-based recommendations for every step of the electoral process. I wrote a summary of that report, but the full thing is available online. It tells us why optical paper-scan systems offer us the best mix of convenience and security, and advises us how to keep a proper paper trail. Experts and civil-society organizations have been advocating for these changes for years. It would take just a bit of money and political will to fix much of this, and fairly quickly. Instead, we’ve kicked off a 2020 election season that promises to be fraught in any number of ways. Several campaigns have reported that the same app is due to be used in Nevada in just three weeks.

    Who needs the Russians?

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Iowa_Caucus #App_inutile #Cybersécurité

  • The Case for Social Media Mobs - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    There is no doubt that social-media fury can go wrong. In one infamous instance, a young woman made a joke to her small circle on Twitter, just before boarding a plane to South Africa, about white people not getting AIDS. The joke was either racist or making fun of racism depending on your interpretation, but Twitter didn’t wait to find out. By the time the woman had landed, her name was trending worldwide, and she’d been fired from her job.

    Throngs on social media violate fundamental notions of fairness and due process: People may be targeted because of a misunderstanding or an out-of-context video. The punishment online mobs can mete out is often disproportionate. Being attacked and ridiculed by perhaps millions of people whom you have never met, and against whom you have no defenses, can be devastating and lead to real trauma.

    The vagaries of human nature and the scale and algorithms of social-media platforms fuel case after case of people finding themselves in the midst of such whirlwinds, but sometimes these mobs perform an important function. Sometimes the social-media mob isn’t just justified or understandable, but necessary because little else is available to protect the real victims. Such is the case with Amy Cooper, the woman now famous for making a false police report claiming that an African American man was threatening her life, when in fact he had merely asked her to leash her dog in Central Park, where he was bird-watching.

    Deterrence is an important focus here, because the consequences of these fake cries can be dire. Black Americans have suffered a range of fates when police arrive thinking they’re dangerous from the outset, whether it’s needless arrest or being killed on the spot, like 12-year-old Tamir Rice, whom a police officer shot within two seconds of getting out of his (still not fully stopped) patrol car. Just this week, a black man in Minneapolis, George Floyd, was choked to death by a police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes while Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe,” and bystanders begged the officer to stop, to no avail.

    Amy Cooper’s case is remarkably straightforward. We don’t need to read her mind or speculate about her motives. She tells us exactly what they are. The minute-long video of the encounter, filmed by the bird-watcher, Christian Cooper (no relation), starts with Amy Cooper walking up to and lunging at him. He steps back, saying, “Please don’t come close to me.” She lunges at him again and demands that he stop recording, and he steps back again. Amy Cooper then looks at him, takes out her phone, and matter-of-factly tells him, “I’m going to call the cops, and I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” Christian Cooper surely knows his own race and did not need a reminder. Her statement was meant as a deliberate threat.

    But life doesn’t end there. Amy Cooper’s 911 call was realistic enough that an NYPD unit showed up to what they thought was a “possible assault.” A tall black man suspected of assault, perhaps holding a shiny black object—bird-watching binoculars—may not even have had the two seconds Tamir Rice had. Thankfully, Christian Cooper had left by then, otherwise it might have been his name, not hers, that became a hashtag.

    During the Arab Spring and its aftermath, which I studied in the field as a scholar, in places such as Tahrir Square, Cairo, and Taksim Gezi Park, Istanbul, I witnessed numerous examples of social-media fury as protesters’ only tool of deterrence against wrongdoing by the powerful. Does it work? Not always, but sometimes there’s nothing else. For example, in the years before millions took to Egypt’s streets in 2011, many videos of police torturing victims surfaced and went viral online, provoking anger. Online comments may not have teeth against the Egyptian police, perhaps, in such a repressive state, but they made an important statement, the only statement available to the otherwise voiceless, powerless masses. Sometimes the social-media mob is the voice of the unheard, and sometimes it’s the only one they have.

    What Amy Cooper did was swatting-adjacent in both intent, execution, and possible consequences—calling 911 to make a false report of being in danger as a way to target someone. As a result of the publicity, she was fired from her job as the vice president at an investment firm, and she “voluntarily” surrendered her dog to the shelter she had adopted him from. I’m sure it’s a difficult time for her, but is it enough of a deterrent to future Amy Coopers? Absent a prosecution, I’m not so sure. And NYPD officials have already told us that they are “not going to pursue” any charges against her, that they have “bigger fish to fry,” and the district attorney “would never prosecute that.”

    If protecting black people’s lives from blatant false reports that may endanger them is not big enough fish to fry, what is? Social-media rage is not an unalloyed good. It has its excesses. But until there is sufficient lawful deterrence for this particular crime, I’m not ready to condemn this mob or this fury.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Swatting #Media_mob #Racisme #Médias_sociaux

  • Hong Kong Protests: Inside the Chaos - The Atlantic

    Almost every protest results in videos of protesters being beaten by the police. Many are live-streamed, to horrified viewers. Thousands have been arrested. Fearful accounts are coming out of the police stations, alleging torture, sexual assault, and rape. On Telegram, many protesters claim that some recent suicides are actually murders by the police that have been disguised as suicides. (It’s not clear whether these claims are anything more than just rumors, misinformation, or a tendency to believe the worst.) When being arrested, it is not unusual for protesters to shout their name, in the hopes of lawyers and family being able to reach them, and some yell that they are in no way suicidal. If they aren’t heard from again, they want to make sure it’s clear who’s to blame.
    I often ask protesters whether they fear the consequences of showing up to these protests. Many of my interviews are interrupted: by tear gas and pepper spray, by police lines marching toward us, by the water-cannon truck. The seasoned protesters are less and less afraid of the tear gas. Some wear tear-gas masks, but risk a year in jail just for that, or even a riot charge, which carries a potential 10-year sentence. Some wear flimsy surgical masks, which may help conceal their identity, but don’t do anything for the burning sensation in their eyes, throat, and lungs. They cough, they run, they wash their eyes with saline or water, and they go on. They do, however, fear being kidnapped or killed.

    One of the women who chatted with me had baby-blue drawings of stars and the moon on her fingernails. The other had a fashionable hat that matched the color of her surgical mask, her animated eyes shining in the small opening between them. They didn’t have helmets or goggles, and weren’t carrying backpacks with such gear.

    Aren’t you afraid? I asked, gingerly. “We are afraid,” they quickly admitted. They even giggled, but it got serious quickly. This is our last chance, they said very matter-of-factly. If we stand down, nothing will stand between us and mainland China, they said. They talked about Xinjiang, and what China had done to the Uighur minority. I’ve heard about the fate of the Uighurs from so many protesters over the months. China may have wanted to make an example out of the region, but the lesson Hong Kongers took was in the other direction—resist with all your might, because if you lose once, there will be a catastrophe for your people, and the world will ignore it.

    The two women weren’t sure whether they would win. That’s also something I’ve heard often—these protesters aren’t the most optimistic group. No rose-colored glasses here. “But we cannot give up,” one insisted, “because if we do, there will be no future for us anyway. We might as well go down fighting.”

    One of the young women gave me an umbrella: a tool protesters use to shield themselves from the sun, from CCTV cameras, from overhead helicopters, from the blue water laced with pepper spray and fired from water cannons, from tear-gas canisters. They had noticed I didn’t have one, and were worried for me. They had brought extras to share. “You might need this,” one of them said as she handed it to me, and wished me good luck. And then the clouds of tear gas drifted in our direction, as they so often do in Hong Kong these days, and we scattered.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Hong_Kong

  • Trump’s Executive Order Isn’t About Twitter - The Atlantic

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    In reality, Trump’s salvo on social-media companies has primarily an audience of one: Mark Zuckerberg. And it is already working. After the executive order was issued, Facebook’s CEO quickly gave an interview to Fox News in which he said, “I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.” He added, “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”

    It’s important to pay attention to what the president is doing, but not because the legal details of this order matter at all. Trump is unlikely to repeal Section 230 or take any real action to curb the power of the major social-media companies. Instead, he wants to keep things just the way they are and make sure that the red-carpet treatment he has received so far, especially at Facebook, continues without impediment. He definitely does not want substantial changes going into the 2020 election. The secondary aim is to rile up his base against yet another alleged enemy: this time Silicon Valley, because there needs to be an endless list of targets in the midst of multiple failures.

    Trump does very well on Facebook, as my colleagues Ian Bogost and Alexis Madrigal have written, because “his campaign has been willing to cede control to Facebook’s ad-buying machinery”—both now, and in 2016. The relationship is so smooth that Trump said Zuckerberg congratulated the president for being “No. 1 on Facebook” at a private dinner with him. Bloomberg has reported that Facebook’s own data-science team agreed, publishing an internal report concluding how much better Trump was in leveraging “Facebook’s ability to optimize for outcomes.” This isn’t an unusual move for Facebook and its clients. Bloomberg has reported that Facebook also offered its “white glove” services to the Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte, to help him “maximize the platform’s potential and use best practices.” Duterte dominated political conversation on the site the month before the Philippines’ May 2016 presidential election. And once elected, Duterte banned independent press from attending his inauguration, instead live-streaming it on Facebook—a win-win for the company, which could then collect data from and serve ads to the millions who had little choice but to turn to the site if they wanted to see their president take office. (Duterte has since been accused of extrajudicial killings, jailing political opponents, and targeting independent media.)

    Playing the refs by browbeating them has long been a key move in the right-wing playbook against traditional media. The method is simple: It involves badgering them with accusations of unfairness and bias so that they bend over backwards to accommodate a “both sides” narrative even when the sides were behaving very differently, or when one side was not grounded in fact. Climate-change deniers funded by fossil-fuel companies effectively used this strategy for decades, relying on journalists’ training and instinct to equate objectivity with representing both sides of a story. This way of operating persisted even when one of the sides was mostly bankrolled by the fossil-fuel industry while the other was a near-unanimous consensus of independent experts and academics.

    For Facebook, that gatekeeper is a single person, Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook’s young CEO is an emperor of information who decides rules of amplification and access to speech for billions of people, simply due to the way ownership of Facebook shares are structured: Zuckerberg personally controls 60 percent of the voting power. And just like the way people try to get on or advertise on the president’s seemingly favorite TV show, Fox & Friends, merely to reach him, Trump is clearly aiming to send a message to his one-person target.

    As a consequence, Facebook became cautious of taking actions that would make it look like it was holding back right-wing information machinery. That was the environment in which the country headed into the 2016 election—five months during which all stripes of misinformation went easily viral on Facebook, including stories that falsely claimed that the pope had endorsed Donald Trump, or that Hillary Clinton had sold weapons to the Islamic State. These stories were viewed millions of times on the platform, many of them outperforming traditional news sources. The pressure to keep Facebook friendly to the Trump campaign continued unabated after the election. When Facebook appeared to be considering changes to its microtargeting rules in 2019—for example, not allowing political campaigns to use the same level of microtargeting tools that product advertisers can, a potential strike at “a major Trump ad strategy”—the Trump reelection campaign swiftly attacked the platform, and the rules were left unchanged.

    Silicon Valley engineers and employees may well be overwhelmingly liberal, but Facebook is run by the algorithms they program, which optimize for the way the site makes money, rather than sifting through posts one by one. This is probably why the trending-topics controversy seemed like such a big hit: It took the one tiny section where humans had some minor input and portrayed the whole platform as working the same way. The employees may be liberal, but the consequences of how social-media companies operate are anything but. In 2016, for example, Facebook, Twitter, and Google all “embedded” staffers with both campaigns, without charge, helping them use the sites better and get more out of the many millions of dollars they spent on the platforms. However, this was especially helpful to the Trump campaign, an upstart with a bare-bones staff. Unsurprisingly, the “bulk of Silicon Valley’s hands-on campaign support went to Trump rather than to Clinton.”

    Trump and his campaign understood the power of Facebook better than the Clinton campaign, and formed a mutually beneficial relationship. Trump spent $44 million on the site, compared with the Clinton campaign’s $28 million, but ad money is only part of the story. A key role of Facebook is promoting organic content: posts, not ads, written by people who may range from partisans to campaign operatives to opportunists who just want the clicks. Some of the authors of these viral pages are motivated by promoting their ideology. Others are just grifters, using Facebook to maximize their spread so that they can collect ad money from their own webpage—which probably uses Google’s industry-dominating ad infrastructure. It’s a complete circle of back-scratching that is rarely commented on or known outside of a small number of experts and industry practitioners.

    The Trump campaign also made better use of Facebook’s own artificial-intelligence tools, like “lookalike audiences”—a crucial functionality that lets advertisers find many new people that Facebook predicts will act similarly to a small “custom” audience uploaded to the site. In other words, if you upload a list of a few thousand people who are open to your message, whether it is interest in a harmless hobby or incendiary claims against a political opponent, Facebook’s vast surveillance machinery, giant databases, and top-of-the line artificial-intelligence tools can help you find many, many more similar targets—which you can reach as long as you’re willing to pay Facebook. These are the kinds of advanced functions that Facebook makes easy to use, and staffers embedded with the Trump campaign would be able to explain and help with.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Facebook #Publicité_politique #Trump #Intelligence_artificielle

  • Don’t Wear a Mask for Yourself - The Atlantic

    If you feel confused about whether people should wear masks and why and what kind, you’re not alone. COVID-19 is a novel disease and we’re learning new things about it every day. However, much of the confusion around masks stems from the conflation of two very different functions of masks.

    Masks can be worn to protect the wearer from getting infected or masks can be worn to protect others from being infected by the wearer. Protecting the wearer is difficult: It requires medical-grade respirator masks, a proper fit, and careful putting on and taking off. But masks can also be worn to prevent transmission to others, and this is their most important use for society. If we lower the likelihood of one person’s infecting another, the impact is exponential, so even a small reduction in those odds results in a huge decrease in deaths. Luckily, blocking transmission outward at the source is much easier. It can be accomplished with something as simple as a cloth mask.

    The good news is that preventing transmission to others through egress is relatively easy. It’s like stopping gushing water from a hose right at the source, by turning off the faucet, compared with the difficulty of trying to catch all the drops of water after we’ve pointed the hose up and they’ve flown everywhere. Research shows that even a cotton mask dramatically reduces the number of virus particles emitted from our mouths—by as much as 99 percent. This reduction provides two huge benefits. Fewer virus particles mean that people have a better chance of avoiding infection, and if they are infected, the lower viral-exposure load may give them a better chance of contracting only a mild illness.

    COVID-19 has been hard to control partly because people can infect others before they themselves display any symptoms—and even if they never develop any illness. Three recent studies show that nearly half of patients are infected by people who aren’t coughing or sneezing yet. Many people have no awareness of the risk they pose to others, because they don’t feel sick themselves, and many may never become overtly ill.

    Models show that if 80 percent of people wear masks that are 60 percent effective, easily achievable with cloth, we can get to an effective R0 of less than one. That’s enough to halt the spread of the disease. Many countries already have more than 80 percent of their population wearing masks in public, including Hong Kong, where most stores deny entry to unmasked customers, and the more than 30 countries that legally require masks in public spaces, such as Israel, Singapore, and the Czech Republic. Mask use in combination with physical distancing is even more powerful.

    We know a vaccine may take years, and in the meantime, we will need to find ways to make our societies function as safely as possible. Our governments can and should do much—make tests widely available, fund research, ensure medical workers have everything they need. But ordinary people are not helpless; in fact, we have more power than we realize. Along with keeping our distance whenever possible and maintaining good hygiene, all of us wearing just a cloth mask could help stop this pandemic in its tracks.

    #COVID-19 #Masques #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • Les meilleurs articles à lire pour comprendre la crise du Covid-19

    Pour percer le mystères des prévisions des épidémiologistes...

    Par Zeynep Tufekci, le 2 avril, dans The Atlantic - à suivre sur @zeynep

    Si vous ne connaissez pas Zeynep Tufekci : C’est une sorte de techno-sociologue qui s’intéresse donc aux implications sociales des nouvelles technologies, de l’intelligence artificielle et des méga-données, entre autres. On vous recommande la lecture de son ouvrage Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes, qui décrypte l’influence des réseaux sociaux sur les mouvements sociaux à travers le monde.

    Ici, le constat de Zeynep Tufekci : Pour la crise du Covid-19, les recommandations fournis par les chercheurs reposent sur des modèles prédictifs. Or, il semble souvent a posteriori apparaître faux. Pourquoi ? Pare ce que ces modèles décrivent un éventail de possibilités - et que ces possibilités varient selon les comportements qu’elles nous font choisir.

    Trois idées fortes à retenir :

    Les épidémies se développent de façon exponentielle, ce qui les rend particulièrement sensibles à nos actions.
    Les modèles et les calculs reposent sur des chiffres qui sont contestables.
    Ces estimations sont surtout faites pour nous éviter de faire les choix les plus funestes.


  • Closing the Parks Is Ineffective Pandemic Theater - The Atlantic

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    In the short run, closing parks may seem prudent, when our hospitals are overrun and we are trying so hard to curb the spread of COVID-19. But in the medium to long run, it will turn out to be a mistake that backfires at every level. While it’s imperative that people comply with social-distancing and other guidelines to fight this pandemic, shutting down all parks and trails is unsustainable, counterproductive, and even harmful.

    To start with, the park crackdown has an authoritarian vibe. In closing Brockwell Park, for example, pictures showed two police officers approaching a lone sunbather, who was nowhere near anyone else—well, except the police, who probably had something better to do. Such heavy-handedness might even make things worse, as it may well shift the voluntary compliance we see today into resistance.

    Finding sustainable policies is crucial, especially since this pandemic likely isn’t going away in a few weeks. It’s plausible that we will be social distancing, on and off, for another year. That means we need to consider how to maintain compliance with strict measures over that long of a time.

    he outdoors, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are all good for people’s immune systems and health, and not so great for viruses. There is a compelling link between exercise and a strong immune system. A lack of vitamin D, which our bodies synthesize when our skin is exposed to the sun, has long been associated with increased susceptibility to respiratory diseases. The outdoors and sunshine are such strong factors in fighting viral infections that a 2009 study of the extraordinary success of outdoor hospitals during the 1918 influenza epidemic suggested that during the next pandemic (I guess this one!) we should encourage “the public to spend as much time outdoors as possible,” as a public-health measure.

    Read: How the 1918 pandemic frayed social bonds

    Mental health is also a crucial part of the resilience we need to fight this pandemic. Keeping people’s spirits up in the long haul will be important, and exercise and the outdoors are among the strongest antidepressants and mental-health boosters we know of, often equaling or surpassing drugs and/or therapy in clinical trials. Stress has long been known to be a significant suppressor of immunity, and not being able to get some fresh air and enjoy a small change of scenery will surely add to people’s stress. We may well be facing a spike in suicides and violence as individuals and families face significant stress and isolation: The Air Force Academy initially imposed drastic isolation on its cadets due to the coronavirus, but had to reverse course after two tragic suicides. Domestic violence is another real concern: Not having a place to go, even for an hour, may greatly worsen conditions in some households.

    The history of disaster response is full of examples of extraordinary goodwill and compliance among ordinary people that disintegrate after authorities come down with heavy-handed measures that treat the public as an enemy. Rebecca Solnit’s book A Paradise Built in Hell details many such cases, such as the lives lost when the military was ordered into post-earthquake San Francisco in 1906 to control the dangerous and unruly “unlicked mob” that was primarily a figment of the authorities’ imagination. Unfortunately, the official response worsened the subsequent fire (which was more damaging than the earthquake itself) by keeping away volunteers “who might have supplied the power to fight the fire by hand.” Some ordinary citizens were even shot by soldiers on the lookout for these alleged mobs of looters and dangerous behavior from citizens. Similarly, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as a review of Solnit’s book summarized, “there were myriad accounts of paramedics being kept from delivering necessary medical care in various parts of the city because of false reports of violence.”

    When the efforts to “flatten the curve” start working and the number of known infections starts going down, authorities will need to be taken seriously. Things will look better but be far, far from over. If completely kept indoors with no outlet for a long time, the public may be tempted to start fully ignoring the distancing rules at the first sign of lower infection rates, like an extreme dieter who binges at a lavish open buffet. Just like healthy diets, the best pandemic interventions are sustainable, logical, and scientifically justified. If pandemic theater gets mixed up with scientifically sound practices, we will not be able to persuade people to continue with the latter.

    This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t limit park attendance at all, but there are better answers than poorly planned full closures.

    Governments could make a special appeal to people who have yards to leave parks for those who do not. (Wealthier people tend to have their own yards or lots, which is another reason not to shut down parks and deny outdoor access to poorer people.)

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Espaces_verts #Coronavirus #Exercice #Autoritarisme

  • Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes de Zeynep Tufekci : Internet et la révolution

    par Zoé Carle
    1 avril 2020
    Près de dix ans après les soulèvements de l’année 2011, Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes de Zeynep Tufekci redonne vie à des analyses presque anachroniques et rappelle ce moment fragile où les dissidents de Tunisie, d’Égypte et de Turquie avaient une double avance, générationnelle et technique, sur les régimes répressifs qu’ils ont momentanément déstabilisés. La chercheuse, sociologue et développeuse informatique de formation, replace le rôle d’Internet dans l’évolution des mouvements de contestation et de leur répression.
    Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes. Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée. Trad. de l’anglais (États-Unis) par Anne Lemoine. C & F Éditions, 430 p., 29 €

    Après la douche froide de l’affaire Cambridge Analytica aux États-Unis et les preuves de l’instrumentalisation des réseaux sociaux dans plusieurs processus électoraux censément démocratiques, tout se passe comme si on s’interdisait d’évoquer le rôle d’Internet à un autre endroit de la politique : au sein des mouvements sociaux. Ce relatif silence contraste avec l’enthousiasme de mise au tout début de la décennie 2010, au moment des « printemps arabes », où de nombreux commentateurs ne tarissaient pas d’éloges sur les « révolutions Facebook » tout en posant des équivalences rapides entre révolution technologique et émancipation politique.
    Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes. Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée

    Pendant les manifestations de juin 2013 à Istanbul © CC/Mstyslav Chernov

    Ce trop-plein de storytelling technophile avait été logiquement suivi d’une avalanche de déplorations cyberpessimistes, s’appuyant notamment sur les analyses d’Evgeny Morozov dans The Net Delusion : The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Au fur et à mesure que les régimes dictatoriaux percevaient les potentialités de l’outil connecté à des fins de surveillance et de répression, les positions cyberpessimistes l’ont emporté, invisibilisant les travaux faisant le lien entre les mobilisations et Internet.

    À l’époque, la question des médias sociaux était trop et mal posée. Zeynep Tufekci rappelle la lassitude des activistes à ce sujet face à des journalistes leur posant inlassablement une question ingénue : les réseaux sociaux eux-mêmes n’étaient-ils pas à l’origine de ces soulèvements ? La question n’était pas exempte d’une forme de néo-orientalisme, comme l’a montré Yves Gonzalez-Quijano dans Arabités numériques (Actes Sud, 2012) : ces jeunes activistes étaient « médiagéniques » parce qu’ils nous ressemblaient avec leurs lunettes en écaille et leurs smartphones, et ces technologies créées en Occident – donc émancipatrices par nature – leur avaient permis de lancer leurs e-révolutions.

    Comme le souligne Tufekci, dans ces premiers commentaires l’accent était mis sur la technologie et non sur les usages, et c’est bien ce qui irritait les activistes qui « estimaient que les médias n’accordaient pas aux activistes arabes le mérite d’une utilisation nouvelle et réellement innovante de ces outils ». L’un des grands mérites du livre est de saluer les activistes de 2011 comme des pionniers en matière de médiactivisme et de logistique de l’action collective. Yves Gonzalez-Quijano a montré que ce rôle de pionnier ne venait pas de nulle part, qu’il avait éclaté de façon spectaculaire cette année-là, car l’émergence de la cyberdissidence arabe à partir des années 1990 était passée relativement inaperçue. Tufekci rappelle les initiatives novatrices qui ont vu le jour à la charnière des années 2010, comme 140 journos en Turquie ou Tahrir supplies en Égypte, qui ont toutes deux exploité l’outil, à des fins d’information dans le premier cas, de logistique pour le matériel médical dans le second.

    « La technologie n’est ni bonne ni mauvaise ; et n’est pas neutre non plus », nous rappelle l’auteure, et il convient de prêter attention à ses usages. Tufekci tient ainsi le pari d’une recherche empirique d’ampleur, alliant rigueur ethnographique par l’observation des acteurs en ligne et hors ligne, et connaissance fine des architectures d’Internet et de ses plateformes de réseaux sociaux, sans jamais se départir d’une ambition théorique et politique annoncée dès l’introduction. À partir de ses observations sur les mouvements altermondialistes dans les années 1990, la chercheuse accumule données et enquêtes pour documenter ce qu’a signifié l’arrivée d’Internet puis son développement pour les mouvements sociaux.

    Que son point de départ soit le Chiapas n’est pas un hasard : « les réseaux de solidarité zapatiste marquent le début d’une nouvelle phase, l’émergence de mouvements connectés au moment où l’internet et les outils numériques commencent à se répandre parmi les activistes et plus généralement au sein des populations ». La chercheuse a choisi ainsi de se concentrer sur les mouvements anti-autoritaires de gauche, pour comprendre la convergence entre une culture politique et une culture technique – celle de l’Internet libre, puis des réseaux sociaux.

    Plusieurs terrains d’enquête (Tunisie, Égypte, Turquie, Occupy, Hong Kong) fournissent le gros des données dont dispose Tufekci, qui n’hésite pas à aller chercher des contre-exemples à la fois contemporains – comme le mouvement conservateur du Tea Party – et plus anciens, pour mettre en relief l’intérêt des pratiques d’une part, d’autre part le renversement des chaînes d’action qui permettent les mobilisations. À ce titre, elle convoque régulièrement le mouvement pour les droits civiques comme un point de comparaison historique permettant de comprendre les ruptures en termes logistiques et organisationnels que permettent les réseaux sociaux. Elle examine les forces et les faiblesses des mouvements sociaux dans une sphère publique « connectée », à partir de cette vérité toute simple : « Une société qui repose sur l’imprimerie et une société possédant une sphère publique en ligne ne fonctionnent pas selon les mêmes écologies de mécanismes sociaux. »

    Grâce à une écriture volontairement accessible, l’ouvrage suscitera l’intérêt des chercheurs et des activistes comme des simples curieux. On y trouvera des idées fortes, dont l’expression pourra parfois sembler répétitive mais qui ont le mérite de la clarté. La première partie aborde de façon générale les technologies numériques et les mécanismes des mouvements sociaux. La deuxième, « Les outils de l’activiste », montre que la sphère publique connectée s’est transformée avec l’avènement des plateformes de médias sociaux autour de 2005. Espaces commerciaux privés, régis par des algorithmes mystérieux, avec des politiques de gouvernance spécifiques, ces plateformes tour à tour entravent et permettent la mise en contact et la communication de grands groupes de personnes.

    Tufekci examine les « affordances » des technologies numériques dans leurs caractéristiques techniques à partir de quelques cas – notamment avec la question du nom ou du pseudonymat pour certaines catégories d’activistes. Enfin, la troisième partie s’intéresse aux interactions entre mouvements et autorités et aux signaux mutuels qu’ils s’envoient au sein du rapport de force. S’intéressant aussi aux compétences développées par les régimes répressifs sur le terrain numérique, les différents chapitres font le point sur les mutations profondes qui ont affecté ces signaux ou, pour le dire autrement, ces indicateurs de puissance, au premier chef desquels la manifestation.

    C’est l’une des idées phares du livre : en tant que signal envoyé par les mouvements sociaux, la manifestation à l’ère des mouvements sociaux connectés a radicalement changé de statut. Elle n’est plus le point d’aboutissement d’une longue organisation interne, fastidieuse, et par conséquent le signe d’une capacité mobilisatrice et d’une structuration efficace du mouvement, mais au contraire le moment inaugural d’une contestation permise par le développement d’outils qui font se retrouver dans l’espace public physique – sur des places, par exemple – des individus mus par un même sentiment d’indignation.

    Tufekci explique que les outils technologiques sont aux mouvements sociaux ce que les sherpas sont aux alpinistes : si au XXIe siècle la levée de masse est au bout du clic, elle n’est plus perçue comme un signal de puissance par les autorités, comme les grandes manifestations organisées pendant de longs mois par le mouvement des droits civiques. Au moment d’attaquer le sommet – ou les puissants –, la musculature fait défaut. C’est ce que Tufekci nomme les « internalités de réseau » : si la mobilisation et la manifestation sont rendues plus faciles, le travail de structuration interne qui permet la maturation des processus de décision et surtout la capacité tactique passent à la trappe.
    Zeynep Tufekci, Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes. Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée

    Pendant les manifestations de juin 2013 à Istanbul © CC/Mstyslav Chernov

    La question de l’organisation est centrale dans les thèses de Tufekci et permet d’expliquer la déconfiture de la plupart des mouvements une fois passée la manifestation. Elle lie cela à la fois à la culture politique de ces mouvements et aux outils dont ils disposent, qui exacerbent leurs forces – la capacité de mobilisation rapide – mais aussi leurs faiblesses. L’absence de leaders, élément caractéristique des mouvements étudiés, est à la fois une force et une faiblesse, qui les pénalise à deux moments essentiels : lors des négociations, puisque les mouvements ne sont pas reconnus dans les négociations par la partie adverse, et dès qu’il s’agit d’opérer des changements tactiques.

    Présents de longue date dans la sociologie de l’organisation (Tufekci rappelle l’article « The Tyranny of Structurlessness » de la féministe américaine Jo Freeman), ces éléments semblent toujours utiles aujourd’hui. De fait, les questions tactiques se sont posées avec acuité dans ces mouvements qui ont grandi avec les cultures anti-autoritaires de l’ère Internet. Dans son roman La ville gagne toujours (Gallimard, 2018), Omar Robert Hamilton, écrivain et révolutionnaire égyptien, met en scène des activistes aux prises avec l’espoir puis le goût amer de la défaite. La même question lancinante hante le récit : auraient-ils dû prendre Maspero, le siège de la télévision nationale ? Cela aurait-il changé le cours des choses ? À quel moment ont-ils perdu, une fois passée l’occupation de la place Tahrir ?

    Depuis 2011, les régimes ont aussi retenu la leçon : la manifestation n’est plus forcément un signal fort. Les manifestations à l’ère des réseaux sociaux peuvent être organisées en un rien de temps et être massives, mais elles sont désormais le moment inaugural d’une mobilisation collective qui peut être réprimée. Prenant en compte la contre-attaque des systèmes répressifs, à distance des événements, Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes repolitise la question des émotions et de l’attention, déplaçant les questions d’information, de contre-information et de propagande à l’ère des réseaux sociaux. Au XXIe siècle, la véritable ressource d’un mouvement social n’est pas l’information, mais bien l’attention.

    On ne peut comprendre autrement les stratégies des autorités en matière de propagande : la surabondance d’informations, la multiplication des fausses informations, la focalisation sur tel élément au détriment d’autres, ont pour but de noyer l’attention des citoyens et surtout de briser la chaîne causale qui fait le lien entre la diffusion d’informations et la production d’une volonté et d’une capacité d’action d’abord individuelle puis collective : « Dans la sphère publique connectée, l’objectif des puissants n’est souvent pas de convaincre la population de la vérité d’un récit spécifique, ni d’empêcher une information donnée de sortir (de plus en plus difficile), mais de produire de la résignation, du cynisme et un sentiment d’impuissance au sein de la population. »

    Ce livre remarquable, déroulant ses analyses sans jamais se départir d’une tonalité joyeuse, se lit aussi comme un antidote à ces passions tristes qui empêchent d’agir. Et remet au goût du jour ce slogan de la révolution égyptienne : اليأس خيانة, « Le désespoir est une trahison ! ».

    #C&F_éditions #Zeynep_Tufekci #Mouvements_sociaux

  • What Really Doomed America’s Coronavirus Response - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    Many will be tempted to see the tragic coronavirus pandemic through a solely partisan lens: The Trump administration spectacularly failed in its response, by cutting funding from essential health services and research before the crisis, and later by denying its existence and its severity. Those are both true, but they don’t fully explain the current global crisis that has engulfed countries of varying political persuasions.

    As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. We faltered because of our failure to consider risk in its full context, especially when dealing with coupled risk—when multiple things can go wrong together. We were hampered by our inability to think about second- and third-order effects and by our susceptibility to scientism—the false comfort of assuming that numbers and percentages give us a solid empirical basis. We failed to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism.

    These pieces were neither exceptional nor exceptionally bad. In fact, they were routine examples of the common sentiment among mainstream media. There was coverage of the coronavirus, but we did not have what we desperately needed: the clear and loud warning that a tsunami was about to land on our shores, and that we needed to start getting ready, immediately. The appropriate message for a tsunami headed our way isn’t that it’s not a threat “for now” or that we should worry about falling in the tub instead. A massive reaction would not have been an overreaction at all; it would have been appropriate. If nothing else, that China’s efficient top-down regime, which highly values its own survival, was willing to take such drastic steps was a sign that the coronavirus was a profound threat.

    This complacency went on until about early March, when the severity of the crisis finally sunk in, seemingly only after Italy started suffering the same kind of crisis that had hit Wuhan months earlier.

    Many pieces with these flu comparisons usually included discussions of R0 and case-fatality rate, but numbers alone do not make science or sensible risk calculation in complex systems. We needed instead to think about these numbers and measurements in the context of the global system, including how epidemics and the health-care infrastructure work, and consider the trade-offs between resilience, efficiency, and redundancy within the system, and how the second- and third-order impacts can reverberate.

    Health systems are prone to nonlinear dynamics exactly because hospitals are resource-limited entities that necessarily strive for efficiency. Hospitals in wealthy nations have some slack built in for surge capacity, but not that much. As a result, they can treat only so many people at once, and they have particular bottlenecks for their most expensive parts, such as ventilators and ICUs. The flu season may be tragic for its victims; however, an additional, unexpected viral illness in the same season isn’t merely twice as tragic as the flu, even if it has a similar R0 or CFR: It is potentially catastrophic.

    Worse, COVID-19 wasn’t even just another flu-like illness. By January 29, it was clear that COVID-19 caused severe primary pneumonia in its victims, unlike the flu, which tends to leave patients susceptible to opportunistic, secondary pneumonia. That’s like the difference between a disease that drops you in the dangerous part of town late at night and one that does the mugging itself. COVID-19’s characteristics made it clear that the patients would need a lot of intensive, expensive resources, as severe pneumonia patients do: ICU beds, ventilators, negative-pressure rooms, critical-care nurses.

    This is why the case-fatality rate for COVID-19 was never a sufficient indicator of its threat. If emergency rooms and ICUs are overloaded from COVID-19, we will see more deaths from everything else: from traffic accidents, heart attacks, infections, seasonal influenza, falls and traumas—basically anything that requires an emergency-room response to survive. If COVID-19 causes a shortage of masks for emergency-room workers, hospitals will stop everything that looks “elective” or nonurgent to fight that fire, but that means people will then suffer and die from things that those surgeries were intended to treat or improve. An angioplasty may not be urgent that week, but it is still a lifesaving intervention without which more people will die. This is true for even seemingly optional health interventions: If people can’t get knee-replacement surgeries, for example, they will be less active, which will increase their health risks.

    The phrase flatten the curve is an example of systems thinking. It calls for isolation and distancing not because one is necessarily at great risk from COVID-19, but because we need to not overwhelm hospitals with infections in the aggregate. Also, R0 is not a fixed number: If we isolate ourselves, infectiousness decreases. If we keep traveling and congregating, it increases. Flattening the curve is a system’s response to try to avoid a cascading failure, by decreasing R0 as well as the case-fatality rate by understanding how systems work.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Coronavirus #Approche_systémique

  • Opinion | Why Telling People They Don’t Need Masks Backfired - The New York Times

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    Zeynep montre combien la communication de crise peut de facto se retourner contre l’intérêt général. Et qu’au contraire, dire la vérité et s’appuyer sur les comportements altruistes que les humains savent avoir quand les sociétés font face à des crises, aurait bien plus de portée que les contradiction d’une communication descendante.

    When news of a mysterious viral pneumonia linked to a market in Wuhan, China, reached the outside world in early January, one of my first reactions was to order a modest supply of masks. Just a few weeks later, there wasn’t a mask to be bought in stores, or online for a reasonable price — just widespread price gouging. Many health experts, no doubt motivated by the sensible and urgent aim of preserving the remaining masks for health care workers, started telling people that they didn’t need masks or that they wouldn’t know how to wear them.

    As the pandemic rages on, there will be many difficult messages for the public. Unfortunately, the top-down conversation around masks has become a case study in how not to communicate with the public, especially now that the traditional gatekeepers like media and health authorities have much less control. The message became counterproductive and may have encouraged even more hoarding because it seemed as though authorities were shaping the message around managing the scarcity rather than confronting the reality of the situation.

    First, many health experts, including the surgeon general of the United States, told the public simultaneously that masks weren’t necessary for protecting the general public and that health care workers needed the dwindling supply. This contradiction confuses an ordinary listener. How do these masks magically protect the wearers only and only if they work in a particular field?

    Second, there were attempts to bolster the first message, that ordinary people didn’t need masks, by telling people that masks, especially medical-grade respirator masks (such as the N95 masks), needed proper fitting and that ordinary people without such fitting wouldn’t benefit. This message was also deeply counterproductive. Many people also wash their hands wrong, but we don’t respond to that by telling them not to bother. Instead, we provide instructions; we post signs in bathrooms; we help people sing songs that time their hand-washing. Telling people they can’t possibly figure out how to wear a mask properly isn’t a winning message. Besides, when you tell people that something works only if done right, they think they will be the person who does it right, even if everyone else doesn’t.

    Third, of course masks work — maybe not perfectly and not all to the same degree, but they provide some protection. Their use has always been advised as part of the standard response to being around infected people, especially for people who may be vulnerable. World Health Organization officials wear masks during their news briefings. That was the reason I had bought a few in early January — I had been conducting research in Hong Kong, which has a lot of contact with mainland China, and expected to go back. I had studied and taught about the sociology of pandemics and knew from the SARS experience in 2003 that health officials in many high-risk Asian countries had advised wearing masks.
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    It is of course true that masks don’t work perfectly, that they don’t replace hand-washing and social distancing, and that they work better if they fit properly. And of course, surgical masks (the disposable type that surgeons wear) don’t filter out small viral particles the way medical-grade respirator masks rated N95 and above do. However, even surgical masks protect a bit more than not wearing masks at all. We know from flu research that mask-wearing can help decrease transmission rates along with frequent hand-washing and social-distancing. Now that we are facing a respirator mask shortage, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that surgical masks are “an acceptable alternative” for health care workers — again, obviously because some protection, even if imperfect, is better than none. In the face of this, publicly presenting an absolute answer — “You don’t need them” — for something that requires a qualified response just makes people trust authorities even less.

    Fourth, the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. told the public to wear masks if they were sick. However, there is increasing evidence of asymptomatic transmission, especially through younger people who have milder cases and don’t know they are sick but are still infectious. Since the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. do say that masks lessen the chances that infected people will infect others, then everyone should use masks. If the public is told that only the sick people are to wear masks, then those who do wear them will be stigmatized and people may well avoid wearing them if it screams “I’m sick.” Further, it’s very difficult to be tested for Covid-19 in the United States. How are people supposed to know for sure when to mask up?

    Fifth, places like Hong Kong and Taiwan that jumped to action early with social distancing and universal mask wearing have the pandemic under much greater control, despite having significant travel from mainland China. Hong Kong health officials credit universal mask wearing as part of the solution and recommend universal mask wearing. In fact, Taiwan responded to the coronavirus by immediately ramping up mask production.
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    Sixth, masks are an important signal that it’s not business as usual as well as an act of solidarity. Pandemics require us to change our behavior — our socialization, hygiene, work and more — collectively, and knowing our fellow citizens are on board is important for all efforts.

    Finally, providing top-down guidance with such obvious contradictions backfires exactly because lack of trust is what fuels hoarding and misinformation. It used to be said that back in the Soviet Union, if there was a line, you first got in line and then figured out what the line was for — people knew that there were going to be shortages and that the authorities often lied, so they hoarded. And when people feel as though they may not be getting the full truth from the authorities, snake-oil sellers and price gougers have an easier time.

    Given that there is indeed a mask shortage and that medical workers absolutely do need these masks more, what should the authorities have said? The full painful truth. Despite warnings from experts for decades, especially after the near miss of SARS, we still weren’t prepared for this pandemic, and we did not ramp up domestic production when we could, and now there’s a mask shortage — and that’s disastrous because our front line health care workers deserve the best protection. Besides, if they fall ill, we will all be doomed.

    If anything, a call for people who hoarded masks to donate some of them to their local medical workers would probably work better than telling people that they don’t need them or that they won’t manage to make them work. “Look, more masks would be great. We are doing our best to ramp up production. Till then, if our medical workers fall ill, we will all be worse off. Please donate any excess — maybe more than two weeks’ worth per person — to your hospital” sounds corny, but it’s the truth. Two weeks is a reasonable standard because the C.D.C. and the W.H.O. still recommend wearing masks if you’re taking care of someone with a milder illness self-isolating at home, something that will increasingly be necessary as hospitals get overwhelmed.

    Research shows that during disasters, people can show strikingly altruistic behavior, but interventions by authorities can backfire if they fuel mistrust or treat the public as an adversary rather than people who will step up if treated with respect. Given that even homemade masks may work better than no masks, wearing them might be something to direct people to do while they stay at home more, as we all should.

    We will no doubt face many challenges as the pandemic moves through our societies, and people will need to cooperate. The sooner we create the conditions under which such cooperation can bloom, the better off we all will be.

    Zeynep Tufekci (@zeynep) is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, the author of “Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest” and a contributing opinion writer.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Communication_crise #Masques #Coronavirus

  • Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S. - Scientific American Blog Network

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    Be ready? But how? It seems to me that some people may be holding back from preparing because of their understandable dislike of associating such preparation with doomsday or “prepper” subcultures. Another possibility is that people may have learned that for many people the disease is mild, which is certainly true, so they don’t think it’s a big risk to them. Also, many doomsday scenarios advise extensive preparation for increasingly outlandish scenarios, and this may seem daunting and pointless (and it is). Others may not feel like contributing to a panic or appearing to be selfish.

    Forget all that. Preparing for the almost inevitable global spread of this virus, now dubbed COVID-19, is one of the most pro-social, altruistic things you can do in response to potential disruptions of this kind.

    That’s right, you should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare—especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time.

    Prepper and survivalist subcultures are often associated with doomsday scenarios and extreme steps: people stocking and hoarding supplies, building bunkers and preparing to go off the grid so that they may survive some untold catastrophe, brandishing weapons to guard their compound while their less prepared neighbors perish. All this appears both extreme and selfish, and, to be honest, a little nutty—just check the title of the TV series devoted to the subculture: Doomsday Preppers, implying, well, a doomsday and the few prepared individuals surviving in a war-of-all-against-all world.

    The reality is that there is little point “preparing“ for the most catastrophic scenarios some of these people envision. As a species, we live and die by our social world and our extensive infrastructure—and there is no predicting what anybody needs in the face of total catastrophe.

    In contrast, the real crisis scenarios we’re likely to encounter require cooperation and, crucially, “flattening the curve” of the crisis exactly so the more vulnerable can fare better, so that our infrastructure will be less stressed at any one time.

    The infectiousness of a virus, for example, depends on how much we encounter one another; how well we quarantine individuals who are ill; how often we wash our hands; whether those treating the ill have proper protective equipment; how healthy we are to begin with—and such factors are all under our control. After active measures were implemented, the R0 for the 2003 SARS epidemic, for example, went from around three, meaning each person infected three others, to 0.04. It was our response to SARS in 2003 that made sure the disease died out from earth, with less than a thousand victims globally.

    Similarly, how many people die of seasonal influenza (or COVID-19) depends on the kind of health care they receive. In China, death rates are much higher in the overwhelmed Hubei province than the rest of the country exactly because of the quality of the care. Hospitals only have so many beds, especially in their intensive care units, and those who have a severe case of COVID-19 often need mechanical ventilation and other intensive care procedures. When they are out of beds, people end up languishing at home and suffering and dying in much larger numbers.

    All of this means that the only path to flattening the curve for COVID-19 is community-wide isolation: the more people stay home, the fewer people will catch the disease. The fewer people who catch the disease, the better hospitals can help those who do. Crowding at hospitals doesn’t just threaten those with COVID-19; if emergency rooms are overwhelmed, more flu patients, too, will die because of lack of treatment, for example.

    As a society, there are much larger conversations to be had: about the way our health care industry runs, for example. How to handle global risks in our increasingly interconnected world. How to build resilient communities. How to reduce travel for work.

    Those are all important discussions, and nothing in this short article replaces that. However, the practical steps facing households are immediate and important; for the sake of everyone else, prepare to stay home for a few weeks. You’ll reduce your own risks, but most importantly, you will reduce the burden on health care and delivery infrastructure and allow frontline workers to reach and help the most vulnerable.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Coronavirus #Prepper_culture #Collaptionisme #Quarantaine

  • Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    Authoritarian blindness is a perennial problem, especially in large countries like China with centralized, top-down administration. Indeed, Xi would not even be the first Chinese ruler to fall victim to the totality of his own power. On August 4, 1958, buoyed by reports pouring in from around the country of record grain, rice, and peanut production, an exuberant Chairman Mao Zedong wondered how to get rid of the excess, and advised people to eat “five meals a day.” Many did, gorging themselves in the new regime canteens and even dumping massive amounts of “leftovers” down gutters and toilets. Export agreements were made to send tons of food abroad in return for machinery or currency. Just months later, perhaps the greatest famine in recorded history began, in which tens of millions would die because, in fact, there was no such surplus. Quite the opposite: The misguided agricultural policies of the Great Leap Forward had caused a collapse in food production. Yet instead of reporting the massive failures, the apparatchiks in various provinces had engaged in competitive exaggeration, reporting ever-increasing surpluses both because they were afraid of reporting bad news and because they wanted to please their superiors.

    Mao didn’t know famine was at hand, because he had set up a system that ensured he would hear lies.

    Smart rulers have tried to create workarounds to avoid this authoritarian dilemma. Dynastic China, for example, had institutionalized mechanisms to petition the emperor: a right that was theoretically granted to everyone, including the lowest farmers and the poorest city dwellers. This system was intended to check corruption in provinces and uncover problems, but in practice, it was limited in many ways, filtered through courtiers to a single emperor, who could listen to only so many in a day. Many rulers also cultivated their own independent sources of information in far-flung provinces.

    Thanks to technology, there is a much more robust option for authoritarians in the 21st century: big-data analytics in a digital public sphere. For a few years, it appeared that China had found a way to be responsive to its citizens without giving them political power. Researchers have shown, for example, that posts on Weibo (China’s Twitter) complaining about problems in governance or corruption weren’t all censored. Many were allowed to stay up, allowing crucial information to trickle up to authorities. For example, viral posts about forced demolitions (a common occurrence in China) or medical mistreatment led to authorities sacking the officials involved, or to victim compensation that would otherwise not have occurred. A corrupt official was even removed from office after outraged netizens on social media pointed out the expensive watches he wore, which were impossible to buy on his government salary.

    The public sphere in China during those years wasn’t a free-for-all, to be sure. One couldn’t call for collective action or for deposing the central government. But social media gave citizens a voice and a way to make an impact, and it served as an early-warning system for party leaders. (The only other topic that seemed to be off-limits was the censors themselves—researchers found that they eagerly zapped complaints directed at them.)

    Unlike books, though, apps can spy on people.

    One hundred million or so people in China have been, ahem, persuaded to download a party-propaganda app named “Study Xi, Strong Nation,” which makes users watch inculcation videos and take quizzes in a gamified, points-based system. It also allegedly gives the government access to the complete contents of users’ phones. It almost doesn’t matter whether the app contains such backdoor access or not: Reasonable people will act as if it does and be wary in all of their communications. Xi has also expanded China’s system of cameras linked to facial-recognition databases, which may someday be able to identify people everywhere they go. Again, the actual workings of the system are secondary to their chilling effects: For ordinary people, the safe assumption is that if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the authorities will know.

    An earlier hint that Xi’s China was falling into authoritarian blindness came during the ongoing Hong Kong protests. The demonstrations had started over a minor demand—the withdrawal of an extradition bill of little strategic importance to Beijing. Protest is the traditional way that Hong Kongers, who do not have full voting rights, express discontent. But this time the Beijing insiders miscalculated. They genuinely believed that the real cause for the Hong Kong unrest was the high rents on the densely populated island, and also thought that the people did not support the protesters. Authoritarian blindness had turned an easily solvable problem into a bigger, durable crisis that exacted a much heavier political toll, a pattern that would repeat itself after a mysterious strain of pneumonia emerged in a Wuhan seafood market.

    In early December, a strange cluster of patients from a local seafood market, which also sold wildlife for consumption, started showing up in Wuhan hospitals. These initial patients developed a fever and pneumonia that did not seem to be caused by any known viruses. Given the SARS experience of 2003, local doctors were quickly alarmed. With any such novel virus, medical providers are keen to know how it spreads: If the virus is unable to spread from human to human, it’s a tragedy, but a local one, and for only a few people. If it can sustainably spread from human to human, as was the case with SARS, it could turn into a global pandemic, with potentially massive numbers of victims.

    Given exponential growth dynamics of infectious diseases, containing an epidemic is straightforward early on, but nearly impossible once a disease spreads among a population. So it’s maximally important to identify and quarantine candidate cases as early as possible, and that means leadership must have access to accurate information.

    Before the month of December was out, the hospitals in Wuhan knew that the coronavirus was spreading among humans. Medical workers who had treated the sick but never visited the seafood market were falling ill. On December 30, a group of doctors attempted to alert the public, saying that seven patients were in isolation due to a SARS-like disease. On the same day, an official document admitting both a link to the seafood market and a new disease was leaked online. On December 31, facing swirling rumors, the Wuhan government made its first official announcement, confirming 27 cases but, crucially, denying human-to-human transmission. Teams in hazmat suits were finally sent to close down the seafood market, though without explaining much to the befuddled, scared vendors. On January 1, police said they had punished eight medical workers for “rumors,” including a doctor named Li Wenliang, who was among the initial group of whistleblowers.

    While the unsuspecting population of Wuhan, a city of 11 million, went about its business, the local government did not update the number of infected people from January 5 to January 10. But the signs of sustained human-to-human transmission grew. Emergency wards were filling up, not just with people who had been to the seafood market, but with their family members as well. On January 6, Li noticed an infection in the scan of a fellow doctor, but officials at the hospital “ordered him not to disclose any information to the public or the media.” On January 7, another infected person was operated on, spreading the disease to 14 more medical workers.

    It’s not clear why Xi let things spin so far out of control. It might be that he brushed aside concerns from his aides until it was too late, but a stronger possibility is that he did not know the crucial details. Hubei authorities may have lied, not just to the public but also upward—to the central government. Just as Mao didn’t know about the massive crop failures, Xi may not have known that a novel coronavirus with sustained human-to-human transmission was brewing into a global pandemic until too late.

    It’s nearly impossible to gather direct evidence from such a secretive state, but consider the strong, divergent actions before and after January 20—within one day, Hubei officials went from almost complete cover-up and business as usual to shutting down a whole city.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Coronavirus #Xi_Jinping #Autoritarisme #Information #Alerte

  • Le possible d’un monde sans inégalités et sans injustices | Entre les lignes entre les mots

    Profitant de la parution récente du livre « Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes », cette année, C&F propose un petit livre numérique autour de Zeynep Tufekci, intitulé « Le monde révolté : Zeynep Tufekci, une sociologue engagée », ce livre contient :

    un texte autobiographique très émouvant de Zeynep Tufekci à propos de sa grand-mère, dont elle parle dans le livre ;

    un texte de Gustave Massiah qui commence par sa propre lecture du livre pour s’étendre sur les questions soulevées pour les mouvements sociaux connectés à la lueur de son expérience et de son engagement.

    Ce livre numérique est disponible gratuitement sur le site :


    Sans (re)faire) une analyse du livre ou du texte de Gus Massiah, je souligne quelques éléments pour inciter à lire ce petit livre gratuit ainsi que le livre paru en 2019.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Gustave_Massiah

  • La révolte à l’ère du numérique : nouvelle efficacité, nouvelles faiblesses

    par Gustave Massiah

    Dans « Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes », Zeynep Tufekci analyse de manière remarquable la nouvelle génération de mouvements sociaux marqués par l’ère numérique. Si les réseaux sociaux accélèrent les mobilisations, l’espace public numérique dépend des monopoles de l’économie du web.

    Pour Zeynep Tufekci, l’espace public connecté modifie la sociabilité des mouvements sociaux et leurs formes de mobilisation. La connectivité numérique permet de partager des liens faibles contrairement à la culture politique qui organisait des liens forts, souvent exclusifs — ce qui est nouveau et considérable. Internet connecte presque toutes les régions de la planète, des ordinateurs sont dans toutes les poches, les algorithmes influencent les décisions dans toutes les sphères de la vie.

    L’idée de fonctionner sans organisation formelle, sans leader, sans infrastructures importantes, remonte aux années 1960. Les mouvements sans leader n’ont pas de porte-parole désigné, pas de leader élu ou institutionnel. Ils courent moins le risque d’être décapités par l’arrestation, la cooptation ou la corruption d’une poignée de chefs. L’absence de structures décisionnelles conduit cependant à ce que Zeynep Tufekci nomme « une paralysie tactique ». Elle cite ainsi « La tyrannie de l’absence de structure », un article de la militante féministe Jo Freeman, écrit en 1970. Cette absence rend difficile le règlement des désaccords et la capacité de négocier.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Gustave_Massiah #Mouvements_sociaux #C&F_éditions

    • Le livre a l’air bien. Sur le même sujet, j’en profite pour reposter cet article qui était déjà mauvais il y a dix ans, avec Lincoln et Obama présentés comme des modèles démocratiques.

      Démocratie & Internet à l’ère du numérique - Revue Critique d’Ecologie Politique

      De même, alors que dans son roman 1984
      Orwell critique le communisme de 1948 qui
      n’a nul besoin de l’internet pour contrôler la
      population, il est étonnant de voir revenir sans
      cesse l’argument selon lequel l’informatique
      permettrait « l’Orwellisation » de la société [2] ;
      d’autant que les technologies de surveillance
      peuvent au contraire alléger la surveillance
      effective et les forces de répression en étant
      détournées [3].

      Dans la ligne de la conclusion de L’immatériel,
      nous postulons avec André Gorz que l’informatique
      est une « technique ouverte », un « outil
      convivial » (Illich), profitable à une écologie
      définie comme « homéotechnique » (Sloterdijk).
      A nous de nous focaliser sur l’essentiel : défendre notre liberté. En permanence à
      reconquérir, elle est le fruit de l’aptitude des
      humains à redéfinir l’autonomie et à mettre en
      œuvre la démocratie dans un contexte social
      et technologique donné. De ce point de vue,
      l’internet renferme un extraordinaire potentiel
      d’expression des droits civiques et de communication
      des valeurs humaines (Manuel

      Internet c’est en effet la parole donnée à
      chacun sans exclusive et quel que soit son
      handicap, y compris celui d’appartenir à
      une classe sociale défavorisée. Wikipédia en
      est un exemple édifiant. La diffusion du
      savoir et des connaissances n’est pas conditionnée
      par le statut social de l’individu mais
      par le contenu même de sa production.
      L’évaluation des diplômes ne vient pas court-circuiter
      sa participation. Pour autant il n’y
      est pas produit n’importe quoi, grâce au
      développement d’une vigilance critique qui
      en régule le contenu.

      « Face aux questions et métriques que
      produisent les pratiques sur l’internet,
      l’autorégulation et la critique constructive
      des internautes eux-mêmes sont peut-être les
      réponses les plus intéressantes au défi qui est
      lancé en terme de démocratie. » (Hubert

      Internet c’est ainsi l’intelligence collective au
      bénéficie de tou-te-s et la possibilité d’un
      travail collaboratif qui permet à des
      individus isolés d’entrer en contact, de se
      mobiliser et de participer à des actions
      collectives, comme ce fut le cas à Seattle
      avec la coordination internationale des altermondialistes
      via la toile, ou encore pour la
      mobilisation des malades du Sida à l’échelle

      Les outils de diffusion de cette intelligence
      collective sont d’ores et déjà opérationnels.

      Toujours dans cette idée de diffusion
      démocratique, la télémédecine et le téléenseignement,
      pratiques encore trop peu
      développées principalement par manque de
      volonté politique, pourraient dès aujourd’hui
      améliorer grandement la qualité de l’accès
      aux soins et aux savoirs.

      L’Internet est une agora planétaire qui met à
      mal les hiérarchies des ordres anciens distinguant
      auteurs et lecteurs, experts et profanes.
      la mise en lien via ce réseau permet la
      construction d’une intelligence collective de
      manière horizontale : une construction qui
      parie sur la confiance et l’expertise des
      individus et se fonde sur l’interactivité entre
      citoyens et citoyennes responsables.
      Le partage, maître mot du réseau comme de
      la démocratie, est inscrit dans l’histoire de la

      C’est à ces usages que peut s’adosser l’écologie-
      politique, et permettre enfin une façon
      plus écologique de faire de la politique,
      grâce à une démocratie des minorités ancrée
      dans le local, et le face à face, à l’opposé de
      toute dictature majoritaire, pouvant constituer
      à terme une véritable démocratie cognitive
      en interaction entre agir local et pensée
      globale (Jean Zin).

      Je sais pas comment ils ont fait pour faire du retour-chariot dans tout le texte...

  • Conseils de lecture pour un hiver militant | Mais où va le Web

    Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes, de Zeynep Tufecki, chez C&F Editions

    Comment internet et les réseaux sociaux impactent-ils les mouvements de contestations au XXIème siècle ? Dans son ouvrage Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes, la « techno-sociologue » Zeynep Tufekci répond tout en nuance à cette question, alliant son expérience militante personnelle à une solide analyse de terrain. Son constat révèle qu’internet permet des mobilisations fulgurantes et massives, mais peine à donner suite aux revendications des militants, qui s’épuisent dans l’horizontalité du réseau. Zeynep Tufekci dresse une analyse détaillée de différents mouvements sociaux, des « Révolutions arabes » à Occupy Wall street, en passant par le mouvement des Gilets Jaunes. Ceux-ci partagent une caractéristique commune : ils doivent beaucoup à internet et à la puissance des réseaux sociaux. Cependant, aucun d’entre eux n’a réellement réussi à déboucher sur une organisation politique plus aboutie. Très vite, ces mouvements font face à ce que la chercheuse nomme une « paralysie tactique », et s’illustrent par leur incapacité à transformer leurs revendications au niveau politique. Cela est notamment dû à la nature même de ces mouvements qui favorisent l’horizontalité et souffrent parfois de l’absence de leaders. Par ailleurs, la capacité à se connecter si facilement en ligne se fait parfois au détriment des liens physiques. Schématiquement, avant l’avènement de l’internet, il fallait des mois pour organiser un rassemblement. Aujourd’hui, un hashtag peut suffire. Cependant, ce travail de préparation, certes pénible, qui précédait les mobilisations avait l’avantage d’habituer les participants « au processus de décision collective et en contribuant à créer la résilience nécessaire à tout mouvement qui veut survivre et prospérer sur le long terme. De la même manière, l’acquisition des techniques d’alpinisme par des ascensions préalables permet aux grimpeurs de renforcer leurs capacités de survie dans les moments critiques, quasiment inévitables, où quelque chose ne passe pas comme prévu. » Twitter et les gaz lacrymogène est de loin l’analyse la plus pertinente que j’aie pu lire cette année sur les impacts réels du numérique en démocratie.

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