• Comment les mouvements sociaux changent les choses | L’actualité

    Regrouper 3,5 % d’une population lors d’une mobilisation n’est toutefois pas garant de victoire. Une théorie du changement exclusivement axée sur l’atteinte de cette proportion serait malavisée. La règle a été critiquée et depuis nuancée par Erica Chenoweth elle-même, qui rappelle l’importance d’autres facteurs (la conjoncture favorable, l’organisation, le leadership stratégique et la durabilité) dans le succès ou l’échec d’un mouvement et recommande de ne pas utiliser la règle de manière prescriptive.

    Il faut aussi prendre en compte que les mouvements n’ont pas tous les mêmes objectifs. Dans son livre Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes : Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée (C&F éditions, 2019), Zeynep Tufekci, professeure associée de sociologie à l’Université de la Caroline du Nord et chroniqueuse au New York Times, émet l’hypothèse que les mouvements possèdent trois types de capacités : celles d’influer sur le narratif social, de perturber l’ordre établi et d’influencer les élus et les institutions. Par exemple, le mouvement Occupons Wall Street a réussi à imposer l’idée que les intérêts des plus riches qui forment 1 % de la population nuisaient aux 99 % restants, une illustration de sa puissante capacité narrative, avec un discours sur les inégalités économiques qui continue de percoler, plus de 10 ans plus tard. Une des demandes clés d’Occupons Wall Street, l’annulation des dettes étudiantes, vient même d’être partiellement adoptée aux États-Unis par l’administration Biden, qui a offert un allègement ciblé aux familles à faible et à moyen revenu, preuve de la capacité de ce mouvement à influencer les institutions.

    Dans le cas de la mobilisation monstre du 27 septembre 2019, il serait juste de dire qu’elle a permis de maintenir le discours du mouvement climatique ; que sa capacité à influencer les élus se traduit par des chantiers en cours, malgré plusieurs victoires institutionnelles (telles que les projets de loi adoptés) ; et que sa capacité à perturber l’ordre établi a été mise à mal par la COVID-19. Il est donc simpliste de parler d’échec ou de réussite d’un mouvement — surtout pour un enjeu aussi complexe que la crise climatique. La bataille sera de très longue haleine et même une victoire aura plusieurs nuances de gris. Sans compter qu’une part colossale de l’énergie des militants sert à lutter contre des reculs…

    #Mouvements_sociaux #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • Opinion | We Should Try to Prevent Another Alex Jones - The New York Times

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    Alex Jones achieved the epitome of despicability and now has been ordered to pay for it. His lies — that parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 had been actors taking part in a government plot to manufacture a pretext for stricter gun control — were blatant. He did not subtly deceive through misleading framing or cherry-picked facts. He targeted parents of murdered little children, who faced a barrage of threats; at least one family had to flee, moving away from where their child was buried.

    Now a Connecticut jury has ordered Jones to pay $965 million in damages to several families for his egregious cruelty, adding to a Texas jury award of $49 million in August to another Sandy Hook family.

    Defamation lawsuits can provide some relief to victims of horrendous lies, but they cannot fully repair the damage that has already been done.

    But the key issue is, the current media ecology makes it lucrative to lie outrageously.

    Jones got his start in talk radio peddling 9/11 conspiracies to great success. In later years, beyond his own webpage hosting his show, he found a home on platforms like YouTube and Facebook, where he could not only broaden his reach, but benefit from being recommended and amplified by the algorithms that prioritize “engagement” — which has often meant pushing inflammatory, tribalizing or conspiratorial content. Many supporters of Donald Trump were — and are — great fans. One comprehensive study from the Harvard Berkman Klein Center (where I’m a faculty associate) found that before the 2016 election, he was the 13th most shared source on Twitter among then-candidate Trump’s supporters. Between 2015 and 2018, his show averaged about $53 million in revenue annually.

    In 2018, after outrage over the way social media sites amplified such content, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify, among other major sites, removed his show. But by then, his machinery was in place and, based on witness testimony and Free Speech Systems’ bankruptcy filing, his company continued making millions of dollars each year.

    From what, you might wonder? In 2014, most of his then $20 million revenue came from selling supplements like “Super Male Vitality,” according to testimony Jones gave in a court case. After he was banned from major social media platforms in 2018, he expanded his sales, offering a 50 percent discount for at least one of his alleged testosterone boosters to “push back in the fight against globalist agenda” — a bargain at $34.95. Also available at the time was “Survival Shield X-2 — Nascent Iodine,” which Jones’s website describes as having been developed using “Thermodynamic Pressure Sensitive High Energy Sound Pulse Nano-Emulsion Technology.” A newer version of the product is described as derived from “ancient sea salts” found “thousands of feet below the Earth’s surface” and formulated “with our fellow patriots in mind.” Really, it’s a steal at $19.95, all major credit cards accepted.

    A recent study in Nature found that areas with higher levels of Fox News viewership had lower Covid vaccination rates, which are associated with higher hospitalization and death rates. This impact of Fox News was independent of local health care capacity or even partisanship. Plus, much of this effect was concentrated on people younger than 65, who might have thought they were safer from Covid, the study authors noted, and perhaps more open to messages of vaccine hesitancy and refusal.

    Even foot soldiers of the movement who sincerely bought into the antivax nonsense, suffered. According to a report from The Boston Globe, at least five conservative radio talk show hosts who campaigned against the vaccines died from Covid-19 over just a few months in 2021.

    It’s become so easy to lucratively lie to so many people, and we have few realistic and effective defenses against the harms of deceptions like these, not just to individuals but to our society.

    There have been campaigns to get major social media platforms to act more aggressively to get rid of liars, but why should we trust them to decide who should be banned? What if political winds shift?

    What’s the solution? No society can be constantly pulled at its seams like this and escape unscathed. The recent Jones verdict certainly did some damage to the industry of lucrative lying, and perhaps few are as deserving of this result than he is. But laws written for a different era cannot resolve the problems of our current media ecology.

    There are no easy, quick solutions, but perhaps a starting point would be to make it harder and less lucrative to lie to huge audiences. Rather than pursuing legally dubious and inadvisable efforts to ban speech or define and target misinformation, regulations should target the incentives for and the speed with which lies can be spread, amplified and monetized.

    One part of the solution might be to target reckless data surveillance online, by greatly limiting how much data can be collected, how long it can be retained, what it can be used for, and how it can be traded. Among other benefits, this could make chasing engagement less attractive as a business model.

    The work of civilization is not just discovering and unleashing new and powerful technologies, it is also regulating and shaping them, and crafting norms and values through education and awareness, that make societies healthier and function better. We are late to grapple with all of this, but late is better than never.

    #Médias #Social_medias #Zeynep_Tufekci #Complotisme #Economie_numerique

  • [C&F] Zeynep Tufekci et les prisonniers politiques en Égypte

    [C&F] Zeynep Tufekci et les prisonniers politiques en Égypte


    Zeynep Tufekci vient de publier dans le New York Times un long article sur l’intellectuel et blogueur égyptien Alaa Abd el-Fattah qui croupit actuellement dans les prisons de la dictature égyptienne de Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, après avoir été emprisonné sous la dictature de Hosni Moubarak et sous la dictature islamiste des Frères musulmans de Mohamed Morsi. Dans son article, elle s’étonne de l’absence de soutien de la part des pays et des médias qui étaient pourtant si avides de le rencontrer pour parler de la « révolution Facebook » et de l’inviter à s’exprimer. Et cela alors même que la dépendance de l’Égypte aux financements occidentaux offre un levier... à la veille de la future COP sur le climat qui devrait se tenir au Caire à l’automne. Et bien entendu que le cas de cet intellectuel humaniste ne saurait cacher le sort des très nombreux prisonniers politiques dans les geôles du Caire, mais au contraire servir d’exemple frappant.

    Je traduis quelques extraits de son article du New York Times à la fin de ce message.

    Zeynep Tufekci était place Tahrir au Caire en 2011 pour observer et accompagner les activistes du grand mouvement populaire qui a réussi à renverser la dictature de Moubarak. Les descriptions précises qu’elle fait dans son livre Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes sont fascinantes, comme lorsqu’elle raconte comment Twitter a pu servir à construire un hôpital de campagne pour soigner les blessé·es.

    Mais au delà du reportage, Zeynep était sur place comme sociologue, c’est-à-dire pour tirer des leçons généralisables ou comparables de ce qu’elle pouvait observer. Elle continuera ce travail d’observation engagée en 2013 à Istanbul, et à deux reprises à Hong-Kong. De ce travail de terrain elle va tirer des analyses précises et inspirantes qui constituent le cœur de son livre : Quelle est la place réelle des médias sociaux dans les mouvements de protestation ? Quelles sont les forces et les faiblesses des mouvements connectés ?

    Ses analyses sont tellement anticipatrices que Sandrine Samii écrira dans Le Magazine Littéraire : « Publié en 2017 chez Yale University Press, l’essai n’aborde pas l’évolution hong-kongaise, les marches féministes, ou les mouvements français comme Nuit debout et les gilets jaunes. La pertinence de la grille de lecture qu’il développe pour analyser les grands mouvements connectés actuels en est d’autant plus impressionnante. »

    Le New York Times la décrira comme « La sociologue qui a eu raison avant tout le monde ».

    Twitter et les gaz lacrymogènes. Forces et fragilités de la contestation connectée
    Zeynep Tufekci
    Traduit de l’anglais (États-Unis) par Anne Lemoine
    Collection Société numérique, 4
    Version imprimée -,29 € - ISBN 978-2-915825-95-4 - septembre 2019
    Version epub - 12 € - ISBN 978-2-37662-044-0
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    entre le 4 août et le 8 août 2022
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    Traduction d’extraits de l’article de Zeynep Tufekci dans le New York Times

    J’aimerais tellement pouvoir demander à Alaa Abd el-Fattah ce qu’il pense de la situation du monde

    Zeynep Tufekci
    2 août 2022
    The New York Times

    Début 2011, après les manifestations massives de la Place Tahrir au Caire qui ont mis fin aux trois décennies de la dictature d’Hosni Moubarak, nombre d’activistes qui avaient pris la rue se sont retrouvé fort demandés par les médias. Ils étaient invités dans le « Daily Show » et Hillary Clinton, à l’époque Secrétaire d’État, a visité la place Tahrir en insistant sur le côté extraordinaire d’être « sur le lieu même de la révolution » et d’y rencontrer des activistes.

    Alaa Abd el-Fattah, l’intellectuel et blogueur qui était décrit comme « un synonyme de la révolution égyptienne du 25 janvier » savait déjà que l’attention mondiale s’évanouirait bientôt.

    Il vont très vite nous oublier m’a-t-il dit il y a plus de dix ans.

    Il avait raison, évidemment. Alaa a toujours été réaliste, sans jamais devenir cynique. Il avait 29 ans quand il protestait Place Tahrir, mais il a continué ensuite. Charismatique, drôle et possédant un bon anglais, il a délivré des conférences partout dans le monde, mais il est toujours revenu en Égypte, alors même qu’il risquait la prison pour sa liberté de parole.

    La famille d’Alaa connaît bien les cruautés qui accompagnent la vie sous un régime autoritaire. Sa sœur Mona est née alors que son père, qui allait devenir un juriste spécialiste des droits humains, était prisonnier. Le fils d’Alaa est lui-même né alors que son père était emprisonné. En 2020, son autre sœur Sanaa a été attaquée alors qu’elle attendait pour le visiter en prison et condamnée à un an et demi pour avoir colporté des « fausses nouvelles », une situation qu’Amnesty International décrit comme un procès fabriqué.

    Durant sa brève libération en 2014, Alaa expliquait combien il était heureux de pouvoir changer les couches de son bébé... il fut emprisonné peu de temps après. En 2019 il fut de nouveau libéré, si content de pouvoir passer un peu de temps avec son fils. Mais il fut remis en prison quelques mois plus tard et jugé en 2021, écopant de cinq années de prison pour diffusion de « fausses nouvelles ».

    La manière dont Alaa est traité montre le peu de considération que porte le reste du monde aux acteurs et actrices de la révolution égyptienne. Il est connu internationalement, devenu citoyen britannique en 2021, décrit par Amnesty International comme un prisonnier de conscience injustement emprisonné... tout ça pour rien.

    Ce n’est pas être naïf face à la politique internationale que de voir combien ce comportement est dévastateur. De nombreux pays font des déclarations sur la démocratie et les droits humains, ce qui ne les empêche pas de signer des accords avec des régimes brutaux en raison de leur stratégie d’accès aux ressources essentielles. Mais dans le cas présent, l’Égypte est totalement dépendante de l’aide étrangère et du tourisme pour faire fonctionner son économie... il n’y a donc aucune raison pour qu’elle ne libère pas des prisonniers politiques si les pays démocratiques, qui disposent d’un moyen de pression, le demandent. L’absence de pression sur l’Égypte ne peut en aucun cas être considérée comme de la realpolitique.

    En novembre, l’Égypte va accueillir une conférence internationale sur le changement climatique. Environ 120 chefs d’État et de gouvernement se sont rendus à la dernière conférence en Écosse. Ils pourraient au moins obtenir des progrès avant de venir se montrer et faire comme si de rien n’était.

    En 2011, trois jours après sa naissance de son fils Khaled, Alaa a pu le voir en prison pendant une demi-heure et le tenir dix minutes dans ses bras.

    « En une demi-heure, j’ai changé ,et le monde autour de moi également » écrivit Alaa à propos de cette visite. « Maintenant, je sais pourquoi je suis en prison : il veulent me priver de la joie. Et maintenant, je comprends pourquoi je vais continuer à résister : la prison de détruira jamais mon amour. »

    On a volé toutes ces demi-heures à Alaa. Il est nécessaire que les gens au pouvoir fassent savoir au gouvernement égyptien que le monde n’a pas complètement abandonné celles et ceux qu’il a autrefois tant admiré, ces courageuses jeunes personnes qui se battaient pour un meilleur futur. Le moins que l’on puisse demander pour eux, ce sont de nouvelles demi-heures pour marcher et respirer librement, pour tenir leurs enfants dans les bras et continuer à rêver d’un autre monde.
    Alaa avec Khaled, 2019.

    Bonne lecture,

    Hervé Le Crosnier

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Alaa_Abd_el-Fattah #Egypte

  • Opinion | I Wish I Could Ask Alaa Abd el-Fattah What He Thinks About the World Now - The New York Times

    In early 2011, after huge protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade autocracy, many activists who had taken to the streets found themselves in high demand. They were guests on “The Daily Show.” Hillary Clinton, then the U.S. secretary of state, visited the square, remarking it was “extraordinary” to be “where the revolution happened,” and met with some of the activists.

    Alaa Abd el-Fattah, the Egyptian activist, intellectual and blogger described as “synonymous with Egypt’s 25 Jan. Revolution,” knew the world’s attention would soon move on.

    “They’ll soon forget about us,” he told me more than a decade ago.

    He was right, of course. Alaa was always cleareyed and realistic but somehow never became a cynic. He protested in Tahrir Square in 2011, when he was 29, but afterward, too. Charismatic, fluent in English and funny, he gave well-received talks abroad but always returned to Egypt, even when faced with the prospect of imprisonment for his outspokenness. His writings, some smuggled out of jail, were published this year as a book, “You Have Not Been Defeated.”

    After years of imprisonment under appalling conditions — he reports long periods of being deprived of exercise, sunlight, books and newspapers and any access to the written word — Alaa, a British citizen since 2021, started a hunger strike in April to protest being denied a British consular visit.

    Alaa’s family is well acquainted with the cruelties of life under authoritarianism. Alaa’s sister Mona was born while their father, who later became a human rights lawyer, was in prison. Alaa’s son, Khaled, was born when Alaa was in prison. In 2014, both Alaa and his other sister, Sanaa, then only 20, were in prison and were not allowed to visit their dying father. In 2020, while waiting outside Alaa’s prison, Sanaa was attacked and then charged with disseminating false news and imprisoned for another year and a half — a case Amnesty International condemned as a fabrication.

    Alaa has the dubious honor of having been a political prisoner, or charged, under Hosni Mubarak, the Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi and then Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the general who is now Egypt’s president. During his brief release in 2014, Alaa kept saying how happy he was to finally get to change his son’s diapers; he was imprisoned again just a few months later. In 2019 he was released, again deliriously happy to spend time with his son.

    But he was put in detention without charges just a few months later. In 2021, when he finally got a trial, he received another five-year sentence for spreading “false news.” Alaa said he hadn’t even been told what he was being charged with before being hauled to court.

    But Alaa’s treatment is an indication of how little care there is left in the world. He’s internationally known, a British citizen, described by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience who has been unjustly imprisoned. There have been opinion essays and calls from human rights organizations — to no avail.

    One need not be naïve about international politics to understand why this is so devastating. We know that many countries with stated commitments to democracy and human rights routinely cut deals with terrible regimes because of their strategic goals or for access to resources or cooperation.

    But here, though, countries professing to care about human rights are the ones with leverage, as Egypt depends on foreign aid, trade and tourism to keep its economy going, and there’s no reason it can’t release a few political prisoners and improve prison conditions, even if just for appearance’s sake, since it would pose no threat to the regime.

    That Egypt is not pushed harder to do even this little is a moral stain that cannot be justified by realpolitik.

    In November, Egypt will host a global climate change conference. About 120 world leaders, including President Biden, went to the last one, in Scotland. They could, at least, ask for progress before showing up for this one and acting as if all is fine.

    In 2011, three days after he was born, Alaa’s son, Khaled, was allowed to visit him in prison, for half an hour — 10 minutes of which Alaa held him.

    “In half an hour I changed, and the universe changed around me,” Alaa wrote about the visit. “Now I understand why I’m in prison: They want to deprive me of joy. Now I understand why I will resist: Prison will not stop my love.”

    Alaa then wrote of his dreams for a future with his son: “What about half an hour for him to tell me about school?” he wondered. “Half an hour for him and I to talk about his dreams?”

    Alaa Abd el-Fattah has been robbed of all those half-hours.

    Someone with power has to let the Egyptian government know that while loftier goals may be abandoned, the world hasn’t completely forgotten how it once admired those courageous young people who dared to dream of a better future. The least we owe them is more half-hours, to walk and breathe freely, to hold their children and perchance to keep dreaming of a better world.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Egypte #Alaa_Abd_el-Fattah

  • Opinion | Zeynep Tufekci: I Was Wrong About the Power of Protest - The New York Times

    As I studied many of these movements, I noticed more common patterns. The quickly sprung large movements often floundered for direction once the inevitable pushback came. They didn’t have the tools to navigate the treacherous next phase of politics, because they hadn’t needed to build them to get there.

    In the past, a truly big march was the culmination of long-term organizing, an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, indicating prior planning and strength. Large numbers of people had gotten together and worked for a long time, coordinating, preparing — and getting to know one another and making decisions. So they didn’t just manage to hold a protest; lacking easier ways to organize, they ended up having to build organizational capacity, which then helped navigate what came after.

    But since the early 2000s, a big protest has started to feel more like a sentence that begins with a question mark. Newspapers still remark on their size — and many of them are very large — but I’m less impressed now by mere size: The global Occupy demonstrations, the Arab Spring protests and the Women’s March in 2017 all could lay claim to being larger than any previous protest. Maybe they would go on to build more sustained power, but maybe not.

    So I concluded that although today’s big protests look the same as those in the past, the different mechanisms that produce them — in particular, the internet and lately, especially, social media — help determine whether governments or other authorities will see them as a genuine threat or just something that can be dismissed like a focus group.

    This doesn’t mean I’ve come to think that protests are pointless or that big marches don’t mean anything. They do. I still think demonstrations, marches and other forms of mass mobilization matter; they build solidarity, change lives and highlight dissent. It’s just that they have different trajectories and dynamics now.

    Being an academic, I wrote a book about all this, but there was a personal lesson for me as well.

    My optimism about the power of our protest had been colored by my inability to recognize that the rules of the game had changed with the changing environment. I really, really wanted our demonstrations — against the invasion of Iraq, against deepening inequality, against the authoritarians in the Middle East, in support of human rights and environmentalism — to achieve more of their goals. I was among people who had the same strong desire for these protests to work and believed they would if they were big enough.

    In 2003, during those protests against the impending invasion of Iraq, the other protesters and I were alarmed by the groupthink we observed among politicians and the media about why and how the war was necessary. The evidence they proffered seemed so obviously flimsy, their scenarios for how this would play out so divorced from a realistic understanding of the situation.

    But we had our own version of wishful thinking coloring our judgment, too. Obviously, ours wasn’t on a similar level of culpability — failing to stop a catastrophe despite trying hard, compared with starting one based on faulty, flimsy evidence — but it offered a lesson. Being on the right side of history doesn’t insulate one from weak analyses or the temptation to conflate what we collectively hoped to be true with an examination of how things really were.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Manifestations #Médias_sociaux

  • The Pandemic’s Next Phase - The New York Times - Interview with Zeynep Tufekci

    The pandemic outlook

    The U.S. is in a peculiar moment in the pandemic.

    The nation is still averaging over 100,000 cases a day as the latest virus wave appears to be making its way westward. Yet many Americans seem to be meeting this latest wave with a shrug. Could this be the new normal?

    To help us reflect on where we are and where we’re going, I connected with Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist who has written extensively on Covid for The Times’s Opinion section.

    As a society, where are we in the pandemic?

    I think the official messaging and our policy remain muddled and confusing, and that’s causing a lot of polarization. There are many questions that remain unanswered and a lack of clarity about the future steps. For example, it’s June 2022 and we still don’t have clarity on updating our vaccines for fall or for vaccines for the youngest. We don’t have the kind of research, clarity and steps needed to address long Covid, either.

    In response, some people are very anxious, some people are wondering how much to worry and some people have basically tuned out. And I’m not sure I could blame any group because at this moment, navigating the pandemic is kind of like a build-your-own-adventure game.

    What do you think the next phase of the pandemic will look like?

    There are many possible paths. The worst-case scenario would be that we get a variant that causes significant amounts of severe disease even among the vaccinated or those with prior infections. If this happens, and we haven’t prepared to quickly update our vaccines and administer them widely and globally, it could be a pretty grim scenario.

    It’s also possible that we just kind of sputter along: There isn’t a new variant that represents a huge jump, at least in terms of causing acute illness. But in combination with waning vaccine effectiveness, especially among the elderly whose immune systems are weaker, it settles into something like the disease burden of influenza. That’s also terrible. Influenza itself causes an incredible amount of suffering every year, and it would further strain our already strained health care system.

    The ideal scenario for vaccines is we update the vaccines, we vaccinate children and we vaccinate globally. But we shouldn’t stop there. We could also do many other things that would benefit everyone. For example, immunocompromised people are especially susceptible to generating variants because they can have very long-term infections. There are now therapeutics that should be used globally and equitably. And a large number of people with H.I.V. remain undertreated around the world, and thus immunocompromised. Extending treatment to them is both morally right and beneficial.

    What else is the government not doing that it should?

    There’s now a much better understanding of airborne transmission of respiratory diseases. If we got our act together, we could do for indoor air sanitation something similar to what we did to water after discovering waterborne diseases, in terms of regulating it to make it safer with better air cleaning filters, ventilation and other methods. We would see benefits against all the other respiratory viruses that are airborne too. It would be costly at first, but we would recoup that cost because illness is very costly — in terms of the human suffering but also financially.
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    How do you feel about the moment we are in?

    We’re not in a good place, even though we could be. I am very despondent about the dysfunctional global and national response, and lack of clear next steps. We are not able to do things that are within the reach of countries like ours with the amount of science and wealth we have, let alone globally.

    When you have a virus or some problem and you don’t have an effective response, that is tragic. But it’s a different kind of tragic when we have so many things we could be doing but we just can’t get our act together. It feels like we’re living a bad chapter in a history book that ends with “aaand that’s why they screwed it up even though they didn’t have to.”

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Covid

  • Commentaires de Zeynep Tufekci suite au discours de Barack Obama sur la régulation des médias sociaux.

    So, Barack Obama has taken up fighting disinformation. NYT notes how his administration didn’t regulate tech.

    When I started writing about it, a decade ago, the pushback I got from the Obama universe was intense, and is hinted at the below profile of me.

    There was a lovefest between the Obama universe and Silicon Valley. Suggesting that wasn’t a good thing, and we needed to regulate for privacy and for a healthy public sphere was not considered unacceptable.

    I heard of attempts to blacklist me from conferences, and more stuff.

    (I haven’t written about most of this publicly. I try to focus on the substance. Some people from that world have called to apologize. It’s fine. The issue isn’t that I was right, and got treated terribly regardless, but that we all lost).

    When that profile was written in 2020, I had just spent months arguing for masks as a tool. I got called a misinformer going against scientists etc.

    Profile notes my next big target to argue against seeming consensus is importance of ventilation and airborne transmission. lolsob

    I also spent a lot of time organizing against the war in Iraq in 2003, my first real effort to change anything in the United States. It had similar overtones: a seeming strong elite consensus, and anyone who disagreed was considered naive or misinformed, etc. etc. We failed.❞

    Sometimes, going against consensus is conflated with contrarianism. Contrarianism is juvenile, and misleads people. It’s not a good habit.

    The opposite of contrarianism isn’t accepting elite consensus or being gullible.

    Groupthink, especially when big interests are involved, is common. The job is to resist groupthink with facts, logic, work and a sense of duty to the public. History rewards that, not contrarianism.

    To get the right lessons from why we fail—be it masks or airborne transmission or failing to regulate tech when we could or Iraq war—it’s key to study how that groupthink occurred. It’s a sociological process: vested interests arguing themselves into positions that benefit them.

    Indeed, Barack Obama became president exactly because he saw how that groupthink happened in the runup to the Iraq war, sadly aided by gullible “access journalism”, and ran on a platform to not do that again.

    And yet, every age brings its own version, to challenge us once again.

    Two things.

    It’s key to understand why and how some false things seem like consensus, only to be acknowledged later they were wrong.

    We must find more ways to productively challenge these consensus-of-vested-interests at the time, so we don’t lose more time and just lose.

    So to end: being vindicated isn’t the goal, though people will often be if they resist groupthink with facts, logic and putting the public interest above all, especially above fitting in or what accolades may be available to the conformist or yaysayers.

    But having been through multiple cycles of this, I think it’s important to understand how and why things happened the way they did. It’s not about vindication or I-told-you-so (and it sounds like it, which makes it harder to talk about but it should be talked about in general).

    “History Doesn’t Repeat Itself, but It Often Rhymes”, as Mark Twain said.

    Understanding history, including recent history, is a powerful conceptual tool.

    A little bit more “how did we get here” can maybe help us avoid having to ask the question again and again and again.

    #Médias_sociaux #régulation #Zeynep_Tufekci #Barack_Obama

  • The power in activism | The New Times | Rwanda

    Un très beau papier du principal journal du Rwanda sur l’activisme... qui bien évidemment fait référence au livre magistral de Zeynep Tufekci.

    It’s unclear why certain issues such as racism and gender disparity, among other inequalities, are still existent given all the efforts that have been invested over the years, if not decades.

    Activism matters. For better understanding of the concept, it is defined as efforts to promote, impede, direct or intervene in social, political, economic or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society towards a perceived greater good.

    Forms of activism range from petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage (or boycott) of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.

    Of recent, online activism has also taken form.

    However, are means not justifying the end?

    A commentary on the problems with social media activism highlights that while spreading awareness is important to combating political or social issues, there is an extent to which mindlessly reposting the same trite artwork doesn’t contribute to meaningful change.

    Spreading awareness on social media without offering ways for others to combat the issue—also known as ‘slacktivism’—should be categorised as indifference rather than activism.

    Jeanette Murekatete, a customer care attendant, says activism carries a lot of significance, especially when it comes to dealing with social injustices.

    She, however, says at times, the way activism is done is the problem. “For example when you see how some people call for women empowerment, especially on social media is not appeasing,” she says.

    “It’s hard to address an injustice with another. How you approach things matters a lot if you want to achieve your desired results,” she adds.

    Writer Zeynep Tufekci says protests work, but usually not in the way and timeframe that many people think.

    Protests sometimes look like failures in the short term, but much of the power of protests is in their long-term effects, on both the protesters themselves and the rest of society.

    Olive Mugunga agrees, saying activism or protests yield results but not always immediately.

    “It takes so much effort and determination from those organising for it to bring about change. However, times are changing and I think we should think of other ways if the current ones aren’t working, she says.

    Mugunga also believes some people spearheading certain activism or campaigns might not have proper motives or use ineffective means.

    Protests are signals, according to Tufekci. In the short term, protests can work to the degree that they can scare authorities into changing their behaviour. “We are unhappy, and we won’t put up with things the way they are.” But for that to work, the “we won’t put up with it” part has to be credible.

    Nowadays, large protests sometimes lack such credibility, especially because digital technologies have made them so much easier to organise, when it can take as little as a few months or even weeks to go from a Facebook page to millions in the street.

    Legitimacy, not repression, is the bedrock of resilient power. A society without legitimate governance will not function well; it’s hard to coerce enthusiasm, competence, and creativity.

    For change to happen, people need to have the right motives and the right patterns in the first place. This is the only way activism will be as effective as it should be.


    #Activisme #Zeynep_Tufekci #Rwanda

  • Opinion | We Got a Head Start on Omicron, So Let’s Not Blow It - The New York Times

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    There’s very little we know for sure about Omicron, the Covid variant first detected in South Africa that has caused tremors of panic as winter approaches. That’s actually good news. Fast, honest work by South Africa has allowed the world to get on top of this variant even while clinical and epidemiological data is scarce.

    So let’s get our act together now. Omicron, which early indicators suggest it could be more transmissible even than Delta and more likely to cause breakthrough infections, may arrive in the United States soon if it’s not here already.

    A dynamic response requires tough containment measures to be modified quickly as evidence comes in, as well as rapid data collection to understand the scope of the threat.

    The United States, the European Union and many nations have already announced a travel ban on several African countries. Such restrictions can buy time, even if the variant has started to spread, but only if they are implemented in a smart way along with other measures, not as pandemic theatrics.

    Mr. Biden’s ban has similar problems — it won’t even start until Monday, as if the virus takes the weekend off.

    That’s pandemic theatrics, not public health.

    The reason we can even discuss such early, vigorous, responsible attacks on Omicron is because South African scientists and medical workers realized it was a danger within three weeks of its detection, and their government acted like a good global citizen by notifying the world. They should not be punished for their honest and impressive actions. The United States and other richer countries should provide them with resources to combat their own outbreak — it’s the least we can do.

    Tragically, one reason South Africa put in place the advanced medical surveillance that found the Omicron variant was to track cases of AIDS, which continues to be a crisis there.

    The antiviral cocktail that turned AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic condition was developed by the mid-1990s, but pharmaceutical companies, protected by rich nations, refused to let cheap generic versions be manufactured and sold in many poorer countries — they even sued to stop South Africa from importing any. Millions died before an agreement was finally reached years later after extensive global activism.

    The callous mistreatment of South Africa by big pharmaceutical companies continued into this pandemic. Moderna, for example, has run some of its vaccine trials in South Africa but did not donate any to the country or even to Covax, the global vaccine alliance, until much later.

    Wealthier nations must provide financial support, as well, for nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as improved ventilation and air filtering, higher-quality masks, paid sick leave and quarantine.

    All this requires leadership and a global outlook. Unlike in the terrible days of early last year, we have an early warning, vaccines, effective drugs, greater understanding of the disease and many painful lessons. It’s time to demonstrate that we learned them.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Omicron #Pandemie_circus #Mesures_protection #Regard_mondial

  • Opinion | What Happens After the Worst of the Pandemic Is Behind Us? - The New York Times

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    But despite having one of the earliest and most abundant supplies of vaccines, the United States has a vaccination rate that isn’t in the top 50 in the world — lower than many, many other countries that started much later.

    Some of the reasons for our relatively low vaccination coverage trace back to the dysfunctions of our medical system. The United States is the only developed nation without universal health coverage, and our medical system continues to disproportionately fail people from minority backgrounds; such shortcomings don’t help develop the necessary trust.

    But there is another dynamic. Many Republican politicians and pundits have chosen to pump hostility to vaccines and public health institutions as a platform for their supporters to rally around. Some of their claims are outright false or wildly misleading, but as with such demagogy historically, sometimes they capitalize on existing failures.

    All this finds a ready home on online platforms designed to optimize for how much time and effort we spend on them. Even before the pandemic, doctors were begging tech platforms like Facebook and YouTube to take action about the rampant vaccine misinformation on their sites that not only existed but thrived. Leaked internal documents show that Facebook’s own researchers were worried about how rampant vaccine misinformation was on the platform during the pandemic. The public has even less insight into YouTube, but it only recently pledged to ban all vaccine misinformation on its platform — a step taken almost two years into the pandemic. This information environment fuels tribalization and demagogy the way warm water intensifies a hurricane. This, in turn, further degrades the capacity for mending our dysfunctional governance.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Covid

  • Zeynep Tufekci On The Sociology Of The Moment (Live) Conversations With Tyler podcast

    When Zeynep Tufekci penned a New York Times op-ed at the onset of the pandemic challenging the prevailing public health guidance that ordinary people should not wear masks, she thought it was the end of her public writing career. Instead, it helped provoke the CDC to reverse its guidance a few weeks later, and medical professionals privately thanked her for writing it. While relieved by the reception, she also saw it as a sign of a deeper dysfunction in the scientific establishment: why should she, a programmer and sociologist by training, have been the one to speak out rather than a credentialed expert? And yet realizing her outsider status and academic tenure allowed her to speak more freely than others, she continued writing and has become one of the leading public intellectuals covering the response to COVID-19.

    Zeynep joined Tyler to discuss problems with the media and the scientific establishment, what made the lab-leak hypothesis unacceptable to talk about, how her background in sociology was key to getting so many things right about the pandemic, the pitfalls of academic contrarianism, what Max Weber understood about public health crises, the underrated aspects of Kemel Mustapha’s regime, how Game of Thrones interested her as a sociologist (until the final season), what Americans get wrong about Turkey, why internet-fueled movements like the Gezi protests fizzle out, whether Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise in Turkey, how she’d try to persuade a COVID-19 vaccine skeptic, whether public health authorities should ever lie for the greater good, why she thinks America is actually less racist than Europe, how her background as a programmer affects her work as a sociologist, the subject of her next book, and more.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Podcast

  • L’OMS révise sa position sur la transmission aérienne de la COVID-19 | Le Devoir

    Toutefois, le 30 avril, l’organisation a révisé la version anglaise de sa fiche. Elle met maintenant les aérosols sur un pied d’égalité avec les gouttelettes. En outre, elle explique que le virus peut se propager dans les lieux intérieurs bondés ou mal ventilés. « Il en est ainsi parce que les aérosols restent suspendus dans l’air ou voyagent au-delà d’un mètre de distance (longue distance) », explique-t-elle.

    Le 7 mai, l’agence américaine de santé publique (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC) modifiait sa position à son tour. Elle insiste désormais sur la transmission par la respiration. « Inspirer de l’air à proximité d’une personne infectée » figure maintenant au sommet de sa liste des modes de transmission. La mise à jour tranche avec la position précédente de l’agence, qui se focalisait sur les gouttelettes non volatiles.

    Les récentes révisions de l’OMS et des CDC pourraient représenter « l’une des avancées les plus importantes en matière de santé publique durant cette pandémie », a écrit la sociologue Zeynep Tufekci, qui analyse en profondeur la cohérence scientifique des recommandations publiques depuis le début de la pandémie, dans un texte d’opinion publié dans le New York Times.

    Si l’importance des aérosols avait été acceptée plus tôt dans la crise, les autorités auraient pu encourager des comportements plus efficaces, soutient Mme Tufekci. Par exemple : favoriser le temps passé à l’extérieur ; mieux ventiler et filtrer l’air dans les espaces intérieurs ; seulement limiter les rassemblements propices aux événements de superpropagation ; et se calmer avec la désinfection des surfaces.

    #Covid_19 #Transmission #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • 141 | Zeynep Tufekci on Information and Attention in a Networked World – Sean Carroll

    Podcast avec Zeynep Tufekci

    Le sujet est passionnant : comment passe-t-on de la censure (blocage) à l’activité de "noyer le poisson". Que devient la crédibilité dans un tel monde de manipulations croisées ?

    par l’autrice de « Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes »

    In a world flooded with information, everybody necessarily makes choices about what we pay attention to. This basic fact can be manipulated in any number of ways, from advertisers micro-targeting specific groups to repressive governments flooding social media with misinformation, or for that matter well-meaning people passing along news from sketchy sources. Zeynep Tufekci is a sociologist who studies the flow of information and its impact on society, especially through social media. She has provided insightful analyses of protest movements, online privacy, and the Covid-19 pandemic. We talk about how technology has been shaping the information space we all inhabit.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Manipulation #Information #Médias_sociaux

  • Covid-19 : comment la Chine mène une guerre de l’information pour réécrire les origines de la pandémie

    Long et passionnant article sur les méthodes de désinformation menées par la Chine autour de la pandémie Covid-19.
    Il est intéressant de voir que la stratégie médiatique du gouvernement chinois recouvre pleinement ce que Zeynep Tufekci décrit dans son livre "Twitter & les gaz lacrymogènes (https://cfeditions.com/lacrymo) : noyer le poisson est plus efficace que de censurer...

    Sur les réseaux sociaux ou auprès de l’OMS, la Chine fait parler sa propagande pour écrire un nouveau récit et convaincre le monde que le point de départ de la pandémie se trouve aux Etats-Unis.

    Quand Xi Jinping parle pour la première fois du nouveau coronavirus aux Chinois, le 20 janvier 2020, après un mois de silence, sa stratégie est fixée. Le dirigeant communiste part en guerre pour « résolument enrayer » l’épidémie. Il doit contrôler le désordre sanitaire qui a surgi au début de décembre 2019 à Wuhan, une ville de 11 millions d’habitants, et touche désormais Pékin et Shanghaï. Xi veut placer la Chine à l’avant-garde de la lutte planétaire qui s’engage. Il décide, surtout, de tout faire pour que le monde doute de l’origine du SARS-CoV-2. L’histoire doit oublier le « virus chinois ».

    Une puissante campagne de propagande d’Etat s’engage, dont tous les contours ne sont pas encore connus. Elle débute dans la sidération causée par le nouveau virus, en ce début d’année 2020. Pour les autorités chinoises, il convient d’abord de ne pas raviver le traumatisme du syndrome respiratoire aigu sévère (SRAS), la première épidémie mondiale du XXIe siècle, qu’elles avaient mal gérée et qui avait paniqué l’Asie en 2002-2003 (774 morts dans le monde).

    A Wuhan, depuis plusieurs semaines, sévit une pneumonie. « Pour le moment, la police de Wuhan a arrêté huit personnes qui ont répandu des rumeurs liant la pneumonie au SARS », écrit le Global Times le 6 janvier 2020. Heureusement, « le virus trouvé à Wuhan apparaît beaucoup moins grave que celui qui a causé le SRAS », rassure, dans le journal d’Etat, Liu Youning, un épidémiologiste travaillant dans un hôpital militaire.

    La chaîne australienne ABC établira que, dès octobre 2019, des douzaines de personnes étaient hospitalisées avec des symptômes de fièvre et de toux dans la capitale régionale du Hubei. De leur côté, le New York Times et ProPublica révéleront que, pour dissimuler l’étendue de l’épidémie à ses débuts, la propagande chinoise s’est appuyée sur 3 200 directives et 1 800 mémos envoyés à des agents locaux dans tout le pays.

    Par ses aspects composites et ses modes opératoires, la campagne de propagande qui a tenté de convaincre le monde que l’origine du virus se trouve aux Etats-Unis est « une des plus emblématiques » menées récemment par la Chine, a expliqué, le 19 novembre 2020, Paul Charon, de l’Institut de recherche stratégique de l’Ecole militaire (Irsem), à Paris. S’exprimant dans le cadre du colloque Médias en Seine, ce chercheur a établi que « ce fut un exercice de manipulation de l’information relativement sophistiqué pour renverser la stigmatisation, s’inspirant des méthodes soviétiques des années 1970 et 1980 qui avaient été appliquées au virus du sida ».

    A l’appui de leur campagne, les services chinois ont créé un expert virtuel, « Larry Romanoff », titulaire de comptes sur les réseaux occidentaux. Cet avatar crée une centaine d’articles pseudo-scientifiques en huit mois, diffusés partout dans le monde, depuis un site complotiste canadien (Globalresearch.ca), jusqu’à un faux quotidien japonais, en passant par le canal d’un virologue taïwanais… Le 13 mars, le porte-parole du ministère chinois des affaires étrangères, Zhao Lijian, endosse franchement la manipulation en citant le faux Romanoff. « Lisez son article, lance alors l’officiel, il apporte plus de preuves selon lesquelles le virus vient des Etats-Unis. »

    D’autres gouvernements, en Iran et au Venezuela, ont servi de relais à Pékin. Mais c’est avec Moscou, dont le ministère de la défense diffusait dès janvier 2020 la thèse du virus américain, que la conjonction des intérêts fut la plus organisée. La crise a servi de catalyseur, en donnant toute leur portée à des accords bilatéraux récents passés entre médias russes et chinois, portant sur des échanges de contenus, la promotion réciproque d’informations sociétales, ou le développement en ligne : accords de Sputnik avec l’agence officielle Xinhua, Global Times et Alibaba en 2017 ; entre l’agence extérieure russe Rossiya Segodnia et China Media Group en 2018 ; entre Rossiya Segodnia et Huawei en 2019.

    #Chine #Désinformation #Post-Truth #Post-vérité #Zeynep_Tufekci #Red_Mirror

  • Three Ways the Pandemic Has Made the World Better - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    This has been a year of terrible loss. People have lost loved ones to the pandemic. Many have gotten sick, and some are still suffering. Children have lost a year of school. Millions have lost a steady paycheck. Some have lost small businesses that they’d built for decades. Almost all of us have lost hugs and visits and travel and the joy of gathering together at a favorite restaurant and more.

    And yet, this year has also taught us much. Strange as it may sound, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered blessings, and it does not diminish our ongoing suffering to acknowledge them. In fact, recognizing them increases the chance that our society may emerge from this ordeal more capable, more agile, and more prepared for the future.

    Here are three ways the world has changed for the better during this awful year.

    1. We Now Know How to Code for Our Vaccines
    Perhaps the development that will have the most profound implications for future generations is the incredible advances in synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) biotechnologies.

    But amid all this came historic developments. The new mRNA technology, on which several vaccines—notably Pfizer-BioNTech’s and Moderna’s—are based, is an epochal scientific and technical breakthrough. We are now coding for vaccines, and thanks to advances in science and industrial production, we can mass-produce them and figure out how to deliver them into our cells in a matter of months.

    This is all new. Neither Moderna nor BioNTech had a single approved product on the market before 2020. Each company essentially designed its vaccine on a computer over a weekend in January 2020—BioNTech’s took just a few hours, really. Both companies had vaccine candidates designed at least four weeks before the first confirmed U.S. COVID-19 fatality was announced, and Moderna was producing vaccine batches to be used for its trials more than a month before the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. In 2021, the companies together aim to produce billions of stunningly efficacious vaccine doses,

    The mRNA vaccines work differently. For these, scientists look at the genetic sequence of a virus, identify a crucial part—such as the spike protein, which it uses as a key to bind onto cells’ receptors in order to unlock and enter them—produce instructions to make just that part, and then send those instructions into our cells. After all, that’s what a virus does: It takes over our cells’ machinery to make more of itself. Except in this case, we instruct our cells to make only the spike portion to give our immune system practice with something that cannot infect us—the rest of the virus isn’t there!

    Until this year, that was the dream behind the synthetic mRNA technologies: a dream with few, scattered adherents, uphill battles, and nothing to show for it but promise. This year, it became a reality.

    In 2020, we figured out how to make messenger RNA with precision, by programming the exact code we wanted, producing it at scale (a printing press for messenger RNA!), and figuring out a way to inject it into people so the fragile mRNA makes it into our cells. The first step was pure programming: Uğur Şahin, the CEO of BioNTech, sat at his computer and entered the genetic code of the spike protein of the mysterious virus that had emerged in Wuhan. Moderna employees had done the same thing the weekend after the genomic sequence was released on January 10. The Moderna vaccine candidate was called mRNA-1273 because it encoded all of the 1,273 amino acids in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein—the code was so small that it could all be represented with little less than half the number of characters that fit on a single-spaced page.

    The rest of the process relied on key scientific and industrial innovations that are quite recent. Messenger RNA are fragile—they disintegrate easily, as they are supposed to. The lipid nanoparticles we envelop them in to use as delivery systems were approved only in 2018. Plus, the viral spike protein is a notorious shape-shifter. It takes one form before it fuses with our cells and another one afterward. The latter, postfusion form did not work well at all for developing vaccines, and scientists only recently figured out how to stabilize a virus’ spike in its prefusion form.

    This may allow us, finally, to transition from a broadcast-only model of medicine, wherein drugs are meant to be identical for everyone in a particular group, to targeted, individualized therapies. Plus, these technologies are suitable for small-scale but cheap-enough production: a development that can help us treat rare diseases that afflict only a few thousand people each year, and are thus usually ignored by mass-market-oriented medical technologies.

    It’s also no coincidence that these two mRNA vaccines were the fastest to market. They can be manufactured rapidly and, crucially, updated blazingly fast. Şahin, the BioNTech CEO, estimates that six weeks is enough time for the company to start producing new boosters for whenever a new COVID-19 variant emerges. Pfizer and Moderna are both already working on boosters that better target the new variants we’ve seen so far, and the FDA has said it can approve these tweaks quickly.
    2. We Actually Learned How to Use Our Digital Infrastructure
    The internet, widespread digital connectivity, our many apps—it’s easy to forget how new most of this is. Zoom, the ubiquitous video service that became synonymous with pandemic work, and that so many of us are understandably a little sick of, is less than 10 years old. Same with the kind of broadband access that allowed billions to stream entertainment at home and keep in touch with family members and colleagues. Internet connectivity is far from perfect or equally distributed, but it has gotten faster and more expansive over the past decade; without it, the pandemic would have been much more miserable and costly.

    Technology also showed how we could make our society function better in normal times.

    According to the CDC, telehealth visits increased by 50 percent in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. Such visits are clearly not appropriate for every condition, but when warranted, they can make it much easier for people to access medical help without worrying about transportation, child care, or excessive time away from work. Remote access to medical help has long been a request from people with disabilities and people in rural areas, for whom traveling to clinics can be an extra burden.

    Work, too, has been transformed. Suddenly, hundreds of millions of people around the world had to figure out how to get things done without going into the office. It turns out that for many white-collar jobs, this is not just possible; it comes with a variety of upsides.

    3. We’ve Unleashed the True Spirit of Peer Review and Open Science

    On January 10, 2020, an Australian virologist, Edward Holmes, published a modest tweet: “All, an initial genome sequence of the coronavirus associated with the Wuhan outbreak is now available at Virological.org here.” A microbiologist responded with “And so it begins!” and added a GIF of planes taking off. And so it did indeed begin: a remarkable year of open, rapid, collaborative, dynamic—and, yes, messy—scientific activity, which included ways of collaborating that would have been unthinkable even a few decades ago.

    Well, no more. When the pandemic hit, it simply wasn’t tenable to keep playing the old, slow, closed game, and the scientific community let loose. Peer review—the real thing, not just the formal version locked up by for-profit companies—broke out of its constraints. A good deal of the research community started publishing its findings as “preprints”—basically, papers before they get approved by formal publications—placing them in nonprofit scientific depositories that had no paywalls. The preprints were then fiercely and openly debated—often on social media, which is not necessarily the ideal place for it, but that’s what we had. Sometimes, the release of data was even faster: Some of the most important initial data about the immune response to the worrisome U.K. variant came from a Twitter thread by a tired but generous researcher in Texas. It showed true scientific spirit: The researcher’s lab was eschewing the prestige of being first to publish results in a manuscript by allowing others to get to work as fast as possible. The papers often also went through the formal peer review as well, eventually getting published in a journal, but the pandemic has forced many of these companies to drop their paywalls—besides, the preprints on which the final papers are based remain available to everyone.

    Working together, too, has expanded in ways that were hard to imagine without the new digital tools that allow for rapid sharing and collaboration, and also the sense of urgency that broke through disciplinary silos.

    The pandemic happened at a moment of convergence for medical and digital technology and social dynamics, which revealed enormous positive potential for people. Nothing will erase the losses we experienced. But this awful year has nudged us toward dramatic improvements in human life, thanks to new biotechnologies, greater experience with the positive aspects of digital connectivity, and a more dynamic scientific process.

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Pandémie #Changement_social

  • How the Public-Health Messaging Backfired - The Atlantic

    Par Zeynep Tufekci

    When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.

    One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.

    The problem is not that the good news isn’t being reported, or that we should throw caution to the wind just yet. It’s that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion—distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.

    This pessimism is sapping people of energy to get through the winter, and the rest of this pandemic. Anti-vaccination groups and those opposing the current public-health measures have been vigorously amplifying the pessimistic messages—especially the idea that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean being able to do more—telling their audiences that there is no point in compliance, or in eventual vaccination, because it will not lead to any positive changes. They are using the moment and the messaging to deepen mistrust of public-health authorities, accusing them of moving the goalposts and implying that we’re being conned. Either the vaccines aren’t as good as claimed, they suggest, or the real goal of pandemic-safety measures is to control the public, not the virus.

    Five key fallacies and pitfalls have affected public-health messaging, as well as media coverage, and have played an outsize role in derailing an effective pandemic response. These problems were deepened by the ways that we—the public—developed to cope with a dreadful situation under great uncertainty. And now, even as vaccines offer brilliant hope, and even though, at least in the United States, we no longer have to deal with the problem of a misinformer in chief, some officials and media outlets are repeating many of the same mistakes in handling the vaccine rollout.

    The pandemic has given us an unwelcome societal stress test, revealing the cracks and weaknesses in our institutions and our systems. Some of these are common to many contemporary problems, including political dysfunction and the way our public sphere operates. Others are more particular, though not exclusive, to the current challenge—including a gap between how academic research operates and how the public understands that research, and the ways in which the psychology of coping with the pandemic have distorted our response to it.

    Recognizing all these dynamics is important, not only for seeing us through this pandemic—yes, it is going to end—but also to understand how our society functions, and how it fails. We need to start shoring up our defenses, not just against future pandemics but against all the myriad challenges we face—political, environmental, societal, and technological. None of these problems is impossible to remedy, but first we have to acknowledge them and start working to fix them—and we’re running out of time.

    The past 12 months were incredibly challenging for almost everyone. Public-health officials were fighting a devastating pandemic and, at least in this country, an administration hell-bent on undermining them. The World Health Organization was not structured or funded for independence or agility, but still worked hard to contain the disease. Many researchers and experts noted the absence of timely and trustworthy guidelines from authorities, and tried to fill the void by communicating their findings directly to the public on social media. Reporters tried to keep the public informed under time and knowledge constraints, which were made more severe by the worsening media landscape. And the rest of us were trying to survive as best we could, looking for guidance where we could, and sharing information when we could, but always under difficult, murky conditions.

    Despite all these good intentions, much of the public-health messaging has been profoundly counterproductive. In five specific ways, the assumptions made by public officials, the choices made by traditional media, the way our digital public sphere operates, and communication patterns between academic communities and the public proved flawed.

    While visible but low-risk activities attract the scolds, other actual risks—in workplaces and crowded households, exacerbated by the lack of testing or paid sick leave—are not as easily accessible to photographers. Stefan Baral, an associate epidemiology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that it’s almost as if we’ve “designed a public-health response most suitable for higher-income” groups and the “Twitter generation”—stay home; have your groceries delivered; focus on the behaviors you can photograph and shame online—rather than provide the support and conditions necessary for more people to keep themselves safe.

    And the viral videos shaming people for failing to take sensible precautions, such as wearing masks indoors, do not necessarily help. For one thing, fretting over the occasional person throwing a tantrum while going unmasked in a supermarket distorts the reality: Most of the public has been complying with mask wearing. Worse, shaming is often an ineffective way of getting people to change their behavior, and it entrenches polarization and discourages disclosure, making it harder to fight the virus. Instead, we should be emphasizing safer behavior and stressing how many people are doing their part, while encouraging others to do the same.

    Harm Reduction

    Amidst all the mistrust and the scolding, a crucial public-health concept fell by the wayside. Harm reduction is the recognition that if there is an unmet and yet crucial human need, we cannot simply wish it away; we need to advise people on how to do what they seek to do more safely. Risk can never be completely eliminated; life requires more than futile attempts to bring risk down to zero. Pretending we can will away complexities and trade-offs with absolutism is counterproductive. Consider abstinence-only education: Not letting teenagers know about ways to have safer sex results in more of them having sex with no protections.

    As Julia Marcus, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, told me, “When officials assume that risks can be easily eliminated, they might neglect the other things that matter to people: staying fed and housed, being close to loved ones, or just enjoying their lives. Public health works best when it helps people find safer ways to get what they need and want.”

    Another problem with absolutism is the “abstinence violation” effect, Joshua Barocas, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, told me. When we set perfection as the only option, it can cause people who fall short of that standard in one small, particular way to decide that they’ve already failed, and might as well give up entirely. Most people who have attempted a diet or a new exercise regimen are familiar with this psychological state. The better approach is encouraging risk reduction and layered mitigation—emphasizing that every little bit helps—while also recognizing that a risk-free life is neither possible nor desirable.

    Socializing is not a luxury—kids need to play with one another, and adults need to interact. Your kids can play together outdoors, and outdoor time is the best chance to catch up with your neighbors is not just a sensible message; it’s a way to decrease transmission risks. Some kids will play and some adults will socialize no matter what the scolds say or public-health officials decree, and they’ll do it indoors, out of sight of the scolding.

    And if they don’t? Then kids will be deprived of an essential activity, and adults will be deprived of human companionship. Socializing is perhaps the most important predictor of health and longevity, after not smoking and perhaps exercise and a healthy diet. We need to help people socialize more safely, not encourage them to stop socializing entirely.

    Moreover, they have delivered spectacular results. In June 2020, the FDA said a vaccine that was merely 50 percent efficacious in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 would receive emergency approval—that such a benefit would be sufficient to justify shipping it out immediately. Just a few months after that, the trials of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines concluded by reporting not just a stunning 95 percent efficacy, but also a complete elimination of hospitalization or death among the vaccinated. Even severe disease was practically gone: The lone case classified as “severe” among 30,000 vaccinated individuals in the trials was so mild that the patient needed no medical care, and her case would not have been considered severe if her oxygen saturation had been a single percent higher.

    These are exhilarating developments, because global, widespread, and rapid vaccination is our way out of this pandemic. Vaccines that drastically reduce hospitalizations and deaths, and that diminish even severe disease to a rare event, are the closest things we have had in this pandemic to a miracle—though of course they are the product of scientific research, creativity, and hard work. They are going to be the panacea and the endgame.

    Just a few days later, Moderna reported a similar 94.5 percent efficacy. If anything, that provided even more cause for celebration, because it confirmed that the stunning numbers coming out of Pfizer weren’t a fluke. But, still amid the political turmoil, the Moderna report got a mere two columns on The New York Times’ front page with an equally modest headline: “Another Vaccine Appears to Work Against the Virus.”

    So we didn’t get our initial vaccine jubilation.

    But as soon as we began vaccinating people, articles started warning the newly vaccinated about all they could not do. “COVID-19 Vaccine Doesn’t Mean You Can Party Like It’s 1999,” one headline admonished. And the buzzkill has continued right up to the present. “You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus—now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away,” began a recent Associated Press story.

    People might well want to party after being vaccinated. Those shots will expand what we can do, first in our private lives and among other vaccinated people, and then, gradually, in our public lives as well. But once again, the authorities and the media seem more worried about potentially reckless behavior among the vaccinated, and about telling them what not to do, than with providing nuanced guidance reflecting trade-offs, uncertainty, and a recognition that vaccination can change behavior. No guideline can cover every situation, but careful, accurate, and updated information can empower everyone.

    What went wrong? The same thing that’s going wrong right now with the reporting on whether vaccines will protect recipients against the new viral variants. Some outlets emphasize the worst or misinterpret the research. Some public-health officials are wary of encouraging the relaxation of any precautions. Some prominent experts on social media—even those with seemingly solid credentials—tend to respond to everything with alarm and sirens. So the message that got heard was that vaccines will not prevent transmission, or that they won’t work against new variants, or that we don’t know if they will. What the public needs to hear, though, is that based on existing data, we expect them to work fairly well—but we’ll learn more about precisely how effective they’ll be over time, and that tweaks may make them even better.

    Psychologists talk about the “locus of control”—the strength of belief in control over your own destiny. They distinguish between people with more of an internal-control orientation—who believe that they are the primary actors—and those with an external one, who believe that society, fate, and other factors beyond their control greatly influence what happens to us. This focus on individual control goes along with something called the “fundamental attribution error”—when bad things happen to other people, we’re more likely to believe that they are personally at fault, but when they happen to us, we are more likely to blame the situation and circumstances beyond our control.

    An individualistic locus of control is forged in the U.S. mythos—that we are a nation of strivers and people who pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. An internal-control orientation isn’t necessarily negative; it can facilitate resilience, rather than fatalism, by shifting the focus to what we can do as individuals even as things fall apart around us. This orientation seems to be common among children who not only survive but sometimes thrive in terrible situations—they take charge and have a go at it, and with some luck, pull through. It is probably even more attractive to educated, well-off people who feel that they have succeeded through their own actions.

    The focus on individual actions has had its upsides, but it has also led to a sizable portion of pandemic victims being erased from public conversation. If our own actions drive everything, then some other individuals must be to blame when things go wrong for them. And throughout this pandemic, the mantra many of us kept repeating—“Wear a mask, stay home; wear a mask, stay home”—hid many of the real victims.

    Study after study, in country after country, confirms that this disease has disproportionately hit the poor and minority groups, along with the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to severe disease. Even among the elderly, though, those who are wealthier and enjoy greater access to health care have fared better.

    The poor and minority groups are dying in disproportionately large numbers for the same reasons that they suffer from many other diseases: a lifetime of disadvantages, lack of access to health care, inferior working conditions, unsafe housing, and limited financial resources.

    Many lacked the option of staying home precisely because they were working hard to enable others to do what they could not, by packing boxes, delivering groceries, producing food. And even those who could stay home faced other problems born of inequality: Crowded housing is associated with higher rates of COVID-19 infection and worse outcomes, likely because many of the essential workers who live in such housing bring the virus home to elderly relatives.

    Individual responsibility certainly had a large role to play in fighting the pandemic, but many victims had little choice in what happened to them. By disproportionately focusing on individual choices, not only did we hide the real problem, but we failed to do more to provide safe working and living conditions for everyone.

    But also, after a weary year, maybe it’s hard for everyone—including scientists, journalists, and public-health officials—to imagine the end, to have hope. We adjust to new conditions fairly quickly, even terrible new conditions. During this pandemic, we’ve adjusted to things many of us never thought were possible. Billions of people have led dramatically smaller, circumscribed lives, and dealt with closed schools, the inability to see loved ones, the loss of jobs, the absence of communal activities, and the threat and reality of illness and death.

    #Covid-19 #Vaccin #Médias #Sciences_information #Sociologie #Pandémie #Zeynep_Tufekci

  • The GameStop Mess Shows That the Internet Is Rigged Too - The Atlantic

    par Zeynep Tufekci

    As of January 10, nine brokerages had set the one-year target stock price for GameStop at about $10.

    But that’s not where it would stay—at least for a while. It climbed in price because a subreddit, r/WallStreetBets, engineered a short squeeze.

    That kicked off a wild ride, revealing many things not just about how digital technologies are transforming our world, but also about how they are not. It was yet another stark demonstration that technology is not simply a tool—neutral on all possible outcomes, good or bad—but something more dynamic, messy and complicated. It’s a complex system where the workings of both the technology and our society, and crucially, how they interact with each other matter greatly.

    This is how the squeeze worked: A few large hedge funds had “shorted” GameStop. That means that they had borrowed the stock, with the intention of returning it when the share price moved lower, as they expected it would, leaving them with a profit. Obviously, this works only if the future price of the stock is indeed lower. If the share price rises, the hedge funds would have to buy the stock at the new, higher price, leading to losses. Investors on r/WallStreetBets had noticed that this particular short position was especially vulnerable because a large portion of its existing shares was tied up in the short betting. They explained to others in the forum that if the price went up and up, the hedge funds would eventually be forced to cover those short positions by purchasing the stock back at a much higher price—from them.

    They started buying. The stock started rising.

    The attempted squeeze and the ensuing rise in GameStop’s stock price was a media sensation.

    Self-organized groups have been using the web to act on the physical world for a while. The tech companies that enable this behavior are themselves old. Facebook turned 17 on February 4. Google is already 22, Reddit is 15, and Apple’s iPhone—which ushered in the era of smartphones—is 13. We’ve had many years to think smarter about what digital connectivity means. And yet, we still face this idea that the internet is a game, that the virtual world is something distinct from the real one. This condescension is even embedded in the phrase IRL—“in real life,” meaning not online.

    But the internet isn’t a game. It’s real. And it’s not just a neutral mirror that passively reflects society. One hears that notion from tech elites who’d like to deflect blame from their own creations, which have both empowered and enriched them. “It’s just a tool,” they say. This same mentality is what made Mark Zuckerberg say that it was a “pretty crazy idea” that Facebook had anything to do with Donald Trump’s election—a statement he had to walk back, in part, because it contradicted everything that Facebook usually claims: that its software matters; that it influences people; that it changes, rather than merely reflects, the world.

    Robinhood is particularly important to this saga because it was the platform of choice for r/WallStreetBets. It drove the retail (meaning small investors rather than big institutions) trade boom because individuals could buy and sell as much as they wanted without a fee. But as with social media, Robinhood’s users were about to find out that the intermediary platform’s business model mattered greatly.

    Unlike traditional brokerages, which charge a fee for buying and selling, Robinhood offers these seemingly free trades because it makes its money in large part by selling the trades to big buyers, many of them other hedge funds. It’s those players that will make the real money—and in turn pay Robinhood for the privilege.

    The restrictions came because, under its business model, Robinhood could not put up the kind of capital required for all of these trades in the clearinghouses where they are eventually settled, the company wrote in a blog post. So it wasn’t that Robinhood had an interest in kneecapping the short squeeze. Rather, it was never a suitable platform for engineering a squeeze of this scale—based on “free” trades by retail investors precisely because those investors were never its true customers.

    These dynamics play out across many digital platforms. Similar to how Robinhood makes money not from individual traders, who are its users, but from its hedge-fund customers, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and the rest make money by selling our attention to advertisers or anyone looking to influence people. This business model also fuels surveillance because paid influence operations work better if they have more data to improve their targeting; data allow them to better find ways to “engage” us. And if there is one thing we know about a social species like humans, it is that in-group versus out-group dynamics (us versus them) are very engaging. Similarly, novelty and misinformation are often attractive, and the truth boring and unengaging. Thus, even though the engineers at these companies don’t set out to amplify tribalism and polarization, the algorithms they let loose on us inevitably do, as a corollary of their optimization target.

    On February 2, GameStop closed at $90, less than 20 percent of its all-time high, which it had reached just a few days earlier. Like many internet stories, the narrative may start with the “little guy” winning—David against Goliath—but they rarely end that way. The little guy loses, not because he is irrational and too emotional, but because of his relative power in society.

    Similarly, Facebook was first celebrated for empowering dissidents during the Arab Spring, but just a few years later it was a key tool in helping Donald Trump win the presidency—and then, later, in clipping his wings, when it joined with other major social-media companies to deplatform him following the insurrection at the Capitol. The reality is that Facebook and Twitter and YouTube are not for or against the little guy: They make money with a business model that requires optimizing for engagement through surveillance. That explains a lot more than the “for or against” narrative. As historian Melvin Kranzberg’s famous aphorism goes: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”

    The pattern is persistent, and it’s not even concealed. The higher echelons of the corporate world play together with the government and Wall Street to enrich themselves. For example, major US airlines have spent nearly all its extra cash on stock buybacks for the past decade, thereby inflating its stock price—and thus executive pay, which is often tied to stock price—and the stock market. And when the tough times came with the pandemic? The industry got a $25 billion bailout from the government, as one does. Boeing, too, spent most of its cash on stock buybacks, and its CEO was fired with a $62 million exit package not long after the Boeing 737 Max crisis—which resulted in two crashes and 346 dead. A 2013 report found that the average “golden parachute” for the top-paid CEO who was fired was $47.7 million. On it goes.

    The social contract is broken, and that’s why the game feels rigged. Right now, especially in countries like the United States, many of the largest, most profitable companies play the legal-tax-evasion game to the point that they are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in cash. (Apple alone has cash reserves that hover around $200 billion. Similarly, both Microsoft and Alphabet/Google have more than $100 billion in their cash pile.) These stockpiles are humongous and the companies are not productively investing them—by building something, or by paying people—so the money all goes back into the stock market. When there is such concentrated wealth, many assets—from stocks to Picasso paintings—appreciate. Such disproportionate investment in speculative or nonproductive assets, coupled with the lack of investment in things that make society work better for more people, like education and health care, further break the social contract.

    On February 7, during the Super Bowl, Reddit used the r/WallStreetBets incident for a feel-good ad. “Powerful things happen when people rally around something they really care about. And there’s a place for that. It’s called Reddit,” the ad flashed. It went on to celebrate the underdog: “One thing we learned from our communities last week is that underdogs can accomplish just about anything when we come together around a common idea.” It was all warm and fuzzy.

    La vidéo publicitaire de reddit est à :

    #Zeynep_Tufekci #Reddit #Gamestop #Finance #Modèle_économique

  • The Ezra Klein Show - How to Think Like Zeynep Tufekci

    As my colleague Ben Smith wrote in an August profile, sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has “made a habit of being right on the big things.” She saw the threat of the coronavirus early and clearly. She saw that the public health community was ignoring the evidence on masking, and raised the alarm persuasively enough that she tipped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention toward new, lifesaving guidance. Before Tufekci was being prescient about the coronavirus, she was being prescient about disinformation online, about the way social media was changing political organizing, about what election forecasting models could actually tell us, about the rising threat of authoritarianism in America.

    Tufekci attributes this track record to “systems thinking,” which she believes holds the key to forming a more accurate understanding of everything from pandemics to social media to the Republican Party. So I asked Tufekci to come on a podcast for a conversation about how she thinks, and what the rest of us can learn from it.

    In answering those questions, we discuss why public health experts were slow to change guidance on disruptive measures like masking and travel bans, the logic of authoritarian regimes, why Asian countries so decisively outperformed Western Europe and America in containing coronavirus, why Tufekci thinks media coverage of the vaccines is too pessimistic, the crisis of American democracy, whether a more competent demagogue will succeed Donald Trump, and much more.


  • 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