“I felt like it was giving me power and respect and authority.”
June 10, 2019 8:59 AM   Subscribe

“Many right-wing creators already made long video essays, or posted video versions of their podcasts. Their inflammatory messages were more engaging than milder fare. And now that they could earn money from their videos, they had a financial incentive to churn out as much material as possible. A few progressive YouTube channels flourished from 2012 to 2016. But they were dwarfed by creators on the right, who had developed an intuitive feel for the way YouTube’s platform worked and were better able to tap into an emerging wave of right-wing populism.“I’m not sure the left understands the monumental ass-whupping being dished out to them on YouTube,” Mr. Watson, the conspiracy theorist, tweeted in 2017.” The Making Of A Youtube Radical (New York Times Feature Story)
posted by The Whelk (137 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think the thing that kills me the most about this is that it's definitely history... well, if not echoing, rhyming pretty hard. In retrospect, this reminds me of the rise of right-wing talk radio, and the effect it had on US culture.

Also, this was pretty rich:
In interviews, YouTube officials denied that the recommendation algorithm steered users to more extreme content. The company’s internal testing, they said, has found just the opposite — that users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints. The officials declined to share this data, or give any specific examples of users who were shown more moderate videos after watching more extreme videos.
Classic. :(
posted by mordax at 9:18 AM on June 10 [19 favorites]


It is what it is.
Echochambers are dangerous, whether it be leftwing, rightwing, whatever. It's up to the consumer to decide if they like it or not.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 9:25 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I think it's interesting that Google / YouTube has denied they have a "rabbit hole effect". Time and again executives discount the idea that YouTube recommendations lead viewers to increasingly extreme videos. Here's product director O'Connor saying it, and here's product chief Mohan saying they have "no business interest" in steering users to escalating content. (I can swear CEO Wojciki is also on the record about this, but can't find the citation.) This denial despite many, many articles and external studies that show that YouTube absolutely has a problem with leading viewers to escalating extreme content.

It's strange to me they'd deny what seems so obviously true. The YouTube folks could just be straight out lying but I tend to think they believe what they say. I am intensely curious what their internal measures are telling them. I do get the feeling there's been a real shift in the past six months away from "must drive engagement and views" to trying to stop some of the awful stuff. Particularly encroaching chld sexualization; that'll kill the company much faster than political extremism. Also almost no one makes free speech / both sides arguments about child porn.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


It's up to the consumer to decide if they like it or not.

That is patently false.

Some things to consider here:

- Google is too big to damage with a boycott.

I remember when I was a kid, and we'd boycott stuff. Before corporates ate each other enough, I think it mattered. Now? The only way to control a business like Google is via regulations, not individual consumer choice.

- There's no off switch on Youtube's algorithm.

I am literally unable to tell it to stop trying to show me alt-right videos every single time I watch something about a video game. All I can do is play whack-a-mole and flag any such recommendation individually. Youtube is giving active, preferential treatment to hate speech. This is not a marketplace of ideas, this is one of the most powerful companies in the world actively shilling for people who encourage stochastic terrorism.

I am an adult with a pretty good education about this stuff. I know disaffected people (young and less young) who are far more vulnerable to having this shit shoved in their face every time they go to do something online. The effects are chilling. I have personally observed them.

- There are laws about hate speech for a reason.

Stochastic terrorism is a real thing. If you don't believe me, you're lucky you've never had to worry about it. A lot of our members have. Violent rhetoric encourages violence in a way that is readily demonstrable and gets people killed. The article talks about it some. It's easy to talk about it more.

Upon preview:
It's strange to me they'd deny what seems so obviously true. The YouTube folks could just be straight out lying but I tend to think they believe what they say.

I'm not sure belief is so binary. I think it comes in degrees. Given evidence that might mean two things, most people will dive for the one where they are not partially responsible for encouraging mass murders. So sure, maybe there's something there, but it could be wafer thin and they'd still buy it over the one where they can't sleep at night.
posted by mordax at 9:42 AM on June 10 [98 favorites]


In my leftwing echo chamber, nobody is calling for genocide.

Youtube has operated with a reckless disregard for what happens to its users, as long as they stay engaged and keep generating ad views. They have offered up the disaffected, ground-down, and despairing up on a silver platter to those that would offer them something to be a part of. I'd much rather offer them something that promotes inclusivity, solidarity, and widely-shared social programs.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 9:42 AM on June 10 [59 favorites]


It's strange to me they'd deny what seems so obviously true. The YouTube folks could just be straight out lying but I tend to think they believe what they say. I am intensely curious what their internal measures are telling them.
Google and its sister companies have a history of just outright lying until we have become so adapted to the problem as being "normal" that we just accept whatever it is they do and then they move onto something else. It's part of their standard operations playbook, and has been more or less since the beginning. They lie because oversight has become virtually impossible and stonewalling is an effective PR tactic in most instances. (I'm too lazy to dig up the references for this playbook, but Shoshanna Zuboff has the receipts in her book if you want to track them down.)
posted by Fish Sauce at 9:52 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


It's strange to me they'd deny what seems so obviously true.

Why? They deny it exists, because if they acknowledged it, they would have to admit their responsibility for creating it - and thus their responsibility to fix it. In their eyes, it's better to pretend that the truth doesn't exist,because then they don't have to fix anything.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:53 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Anyone who has seen a kid using YouTube without parental controls (accidentally! geez) can see the rabbit hole effect in action. One toy box-opening video leads to another, less well-curated one, leads to one with toys for older kids, leads to Freddy's stuff, leads to paranormal videos, until you get a question from a 4 year old about please can you explain why the Slender Man is coming for him. Very easy to imagine this happening in other scenarios, how could YouTube possibly claim to have control over it?
posted by sophrontic at 9:59 AM on June 10 [12 favorites]


Generating lone wolf killers with fantasy ideas of power and fanatical belief in lies must be some new novel definition of "ass kicking" of which I was previously unaware.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:01 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


I don't have a lot of first hand experience with this on YT but Twitter is 100% insulating the echo chamber by using algorithms and relationship maps to tailor the product you see.

It appears to me to be intentionally difficult to see opposition or alternative views. Because seeing something you disagree with might cause you to disengage, and the ALGORITHM PREFERS that you not do that, please.

This clearly ties back to: if you monetize these arenas through advertising and you use algorithms to do it, you are very like to end up at cross purposes with real discourse. I mean it's been said so many times now I'm not even sure it's worth repeating.
posted by pilot pirx at 10:02 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


I hate how this article is written, but I applaud the meat.
posted by es_de_bah at 10:06 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


There are laws about hate speech for a reason.

Criminalizing hate speech per se in the US is almost certainly unconstitutional, even if it's a good idea. The first amendment doesn't really make any exceptions for speech that doesn't rise to the very specific and stringent legal standard of a "true threat".

I don't know what the solution to this is but it almost certainly won't be laws against hate speech.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:06 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Youtube is malware for your brain. Block it at the network level everywhere you are able to.
posted by benzenedream at 10:07 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


I know this guy's town (Martinsburg, WV) quite well.

It doesn't surprise me that a young person living there would fall victim to this kind of propaganda. There are few opportunities – for employment, or for anything else that might provide some meaning to life. Opioids are everywhere. There's a pretty active and noxious neo-Nazi group operating in the area – they've posted recruiting flyers in numerous towns in the region, hiding behind a bullshit mask of "traditional values". Downtown is dilapidated, although there seems to be a brisk trade in ramshackle pawn shops and strip clubs. And the ambient political sentiment is exactly what you'd expect from such a place.

It's been this way for many years, and (from what I'm told) is only getting worse.

I'm not trying to let a (former) white supremacist off the hook because of "economic anxiety", of course. But if we're accepting the article's premise that young alt-right recruits are (to some degree) unwitting victims of a deliberate propaganda effort, then the social conditions around this kid seem noteworthy.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:08 AM on June 10 [18 favorites]


YankeeKing6700: It's up to the consumer to decide if they like it or not.

The pyschology of advertising (PsychCentral.com) would say otherwise. Also, not all consumers are as discerning, informed, or mature, which is why it's particularly so dangerous for impressionable youth.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:11 AM on June 10 [16 favorites]


I was recently at a maternity information series of talks (lay audience). The presenter forgot to turn autoplay off. What YouTube chose to show after a lovely NHS homebirth video was "Top 5 tactical assault rifles". I mean, in the moment it was pretty hilarious, but also not a little disturbing.
posted by Cheerwell Maker at 10:15 AM on June 10 [49 favorites]


And what if the consumer decides that they do like the idea of violent racism? People don't just spontaneously decide en masse to enact fascist policies. It happens as a result of sustained propaganda campaigns (among other activism).

Even if we accept that someone has the right to advocate for such repellent things (in speech, if not in action): YouTube has no obligation to provide a platform for that speech. And if they choose to provide a platform anyway, then we're free to say that YouTube are fascist collaborators.

And when someone encounters the argument "maybe YouTube shouldn't provide a platform for white supremacist propaganda", and responds with "what's the problem; let the market decide" – well, one might be skeptical of that person's motives, as well.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:18 AM on June 10 [65 favorites]


I worked on internet projects from the early nineties and we were very optimistic about its future. At some point in the early 2000's a friend asked me for a list of what was really "best of the web" and other than Metafilter I blanked. I realized I had to reassess its value.

When television first came on the scene people believed it was going to revolutionize education. Students from 3rd world country could watch lectures and learn how to become doctors, engineers, anything. Clearly, the potential of television to revolutionize society was enormous.

It's time to start over and wipe the slate clean. There are very few sites that have done it right. Wikipedia is one. All new content must be reviewed and approved by trusted members. It must be balanced. It must be sourced. If not, there must be consequences. I never thought I would think that way, but I do now.
posted by xammerboy at 10:26 AM on June 10 [12 favorites]


And what if the consumer decides that they do like the idea of violent racism? People don't just spontaneously decide en masse to enact fascist policies. It happens as a result of sustained propaganda campaigns (among other activism).

Then they are ill. They need help.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 10:29 AM on June 10


It's up to the consumer to decide if they like it or not

The principle that most infomercials and some sales technique use is simply brute force. You tell someone they want something enough and you will wear them down.
posted by xammerboy at 10:33 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


In interviews, YouTube officials denied that the recommendation algorithm steered users to more extreme content. The company’s internal testing, they said, has found just the opposite — that users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints. The officials declined to share this data, or give any specific examples of users who were shown more moderate videos after watching more extreme videos.

Classic. :(


Subsequent videos only advocated the investigation and imprisoning of half of the left wing.
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints

This does not actually answer the originally posited research question of "are users offered increasingly extreme videos?" Like, at all. The question was not "if you watch one extreme video do you get more?" it was "If you watch a less extreme video, do you get a more extreme one offered later?"
posted by soren_lorensen at 10:40 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Real talk, what is a "left wing" echo chamber?

Like, I understand how the right wing echo chamber is constructed. Follow Republican politicians and Fox News, and you're told that the "mainstream media" is lying, and the opposition politicians are Democrats, so it's easy to believe you're a staunch moderate if you're between Democrats and Republicans. There's a huge firewall preventing you from ever accessing leftist rhetoric.

But if you're an avowed lefty, how can this be constructed? You can watch all the LeftTube you want and follow only lefties on Twitter, but you still know that your Democratic party is moderate, and there are Republicans far, far to the right still, like Donald Trump Mitch McConnell that you can't help but hear from and about.

Honestly, it just feels like a "both sides are the same" centrist shrug.
posted by explosion at 10:43 AM on June 10 [54 favorites]


Then they are ill. They need help.

No, they're not. Bigotry is not mental illness, and conflating the two does real harm by stigmatizing the mentally ill.

There are very few sites that have done it right. Wikipedia is one. All new content must be reviewed and approved by trusted members. It must be balanced. It must be sourced. If not, there must be consequences. I never thought I would think that way, but I do now.

We've discussed at length the problem with Wikipedia's issues with administration. Wikipedia is very much not the answer here.
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:43 AM on June 10 [43 favorites]


(I can swear CEO Wojciki is also on the record about this, but can't find the citation.)
Was this the article you were thinking of?

As for left- versus right-wing echo chambers, there's an interesting study about the difference between the two - Network Propaganda by Benkler, Faris, and Roberts (there's an open access version available). It makes a well-documented case that people on the left are constrained by traditional ideas about facts and evidence, which keeps them from exclusively going down rabbit holes without skepticism holding them back; people on the right care more about whether a claim fits and supports their worldview. This, the authors trace, not to technology but to the rise of right-wing radio and Fox News, which have continually called into question the validity of the traditional press.

I second the recommendation of Zuboff on how these companies are able to keep pulling the wool over our eyes. They're very practiced at it.
posted by zenzenobia at 10:45 AM on June 10 [17 favorites]


I never see this stuff on YT. I guess all the drag queen makeover videos I watch insulate me.
posted by Automocar at 10:46 AM on June 10 [23 favorites]


Real talk, what is a "left wing" echo chamber?

This site, for starters.

Mods here keep the echo chamber effect from getting MeFites to build guillotines. Other left wing sites are probably looser on that criterion though.
posted by ocschwar at 10:48 AM on June 10 [28 favorites]


So, to summarize you argument thus far, YankeeKing:

1. YouTube needn't worry that there are any possible ethical concerns about the fact that they provide a platform for white supremacist progaganda.

Suppose that you own a local radio station. A neo-Nazi organization asks you to broadcast their propaganda. You agree. You run ads on the program. You keep some of the money for yourself, and you give the rest to the neo-Nazis.

You are actively funding neo-Nazis. You are profiting from neo-Nazi propaganda. You are a fascist collaborator.

This is exactly what YouTube is doing – but on a massive scale. This is what you are defending.

2. Anyone who sympathizes with white supremacist propaganda is "ill".

I'm not even sure what to do with this one.

Do you really believe that everyone who watches this stuff qualifies for a psychiatric diagnosis?

No, of course you don't, because that's absurd on its face. But even if you did believe that...what solution are you proposing? If we're going to treat the victims of propaganda after they've been infected (rather than preventing the infection in the first place), then how will we ensure they receive the "help" (i.e., psychological care) that you say they need? (Something tells me that a federally funded program wouldn't be to your taste.)

Sorry, YankeeKing, but I don't think you're here to converse in good faith. I suggest holding yourself to a higher standard, because the approach you're taking won't get you very far around here.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:48 AM on June 10 [36 favorites]


I was looking at YouTube during the most recent State of the Union speech, and the home page offered me a live feed, so I did that thing where you can say you're "not interested" and it disappears.

I left YT and came back a few minutes later, and the State of the Union feed was back, but this time when I attempted to dismiss it, it stayed no matter what I did, and I tried several things.

I think what this means is that YouTube is allowing paid placements of videos on the home page, and that all this talk of algorithms is a smokescreen. I think far right stuff is getting all this penetration on YouTube because they are paying YouTube to show it to people.
posted by jamjam at 10:49 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Echochambers are dangerous, whether it be leftwing, rightwing, whatever.

yeah totally, all that radical left wing violence that we keep hearing about in the US, definitely a result of all those left wing echo chambers, both sides, totally equal
posted by windbox at 10:57 AM on June 10 [26 favorites]


you're in an echo chamber if you only encounter arguments or dialogue from the "other" side after they've been mediated through "your" side.

yeah totally, all that radical left wing violence that we keep hearing about in the US, definitely a result of all those left wing echo chambers, both sides, totally equal

the danger is that you won't notice and can't get a reality check when you're in the grip of a bad or false idea. everything doesn't have to be reduced to heroes vs nazis all the time.
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:01 AM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Youtube is malware for your brain. Block it at the network level everywhere you are able to.

I never use YouTube beyond, like, watching old Fleetwood Mac “The Dance” clips and checking to see whether I can stream Dangerous Liaisons when it wasn’t on Netflix. But recently deleting my Facebook and Twitter has been a huge breath of fresh air in my life. I also went through and unfollowed about half of the accounts I followed on Instagram so now all I have is people I know and architecture / decor accounts. (The best thing about Instagram is your ability to control what you see for the most part.)

For those who are on the fence about disengaging from social media, I highly recommend doing it to the extent you are able.
posted by sallybrown at 11:01 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Real talk, what is a "left wing" echo chamber?

This site, for starters.


Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that just because a site or a forum doesn't just roll out the red carpet for conservative voices makes it a left wing echo chamber - I think it more illustrates how much of conservatism has become a hothouse.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:02 AM on June 10 [42 favorites]


again can someone explain to me the left wing violence that has swept the us because of all of these left wing echo chambers out here? refresh my memory, is it left or right wing proteges of their respective "echo chambers" who are shooting up mosques, synagogues, black churches?
posted by windbox at 11:12 AM on June 10 [16 favorites]


According to groups like the ADL, only a small percentage (less than 5%) of domestic terrorism deaths are even remotely linked to left-wing extremism, which is apparently mostly anarchists and "black nationalists" (their words) that are almost always outside the mainstream. Meanwhile, the huge majority (over 70%) of domestic terrorism deaths that are linked to white supremacy and right-wing extremism (including actual Nazis) are mostly committed by people who follow extremely popular mainstream conservative news sources and personalities, especially on social media.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:14 AM on June 10 [19 favorites]


I don't think the term "echo chamber" necessarily implies that the people in said chamber become radicalized, or commit political violence. Just that they aren't exposed to dissenting perspectives.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:21 AM on June 10 [24 favorites]



Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that just because a site or a forum doesn't just roll out the red carpet for conservative voices makes it a left wing echo chamber


There's a case to be made for not rolling out the red carpet for conservative voices, a mighty strong case in 2019, and a price to be paid for it. That price is being in a left wing echo chamber.
posted by ocschwar at 11:23 AM on June 10 [6 favorites]


Do you really believe that everyone who watches this stuff qualifies for a psychiatric diagnosis?

No, of course you don't, because that's absurd on its face. But even if you did believe that...what solution are you proposing? If we're going to treat the victims of propaganda after they've been infected (rather than preventing the infection in the first place), then how will we ensure they receive the "help" (i.e., psychological care) that you say they need? (Something tells me that a federally funded program wouldn't be to your taste.)


No.
Let them be.
They choose to be foolish. They're losers. But this is America, they have every right to be fools. I don't pay them any mind. Let them get arrested by police if they commit violence.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 11:24 AM on June 10


again can someone explain to me the left wing violence that has swept the us because of all of these left wing echo chambers out here?

Antifa, for one, though that's a pretty loose label for a broad range of groups.

The main difference is that the mainstream media gives them air cover because it burnishes their activist-revolutionary credentials.

Also see, e.g.: Philip Cross: The 'anti-fascist' left were the real fascists all along
posted by theorique at 11:24 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


The comment being referred to specifically says "[e]chochambers are dangerous, whether it be leftwing, rightwing, whatever." Regardless of whether or not leftists are being exposed to dissenting perspectives, they're far, far less likely to be a danger to anyone.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:25 AM on June 10 [9 favorites]


There's a case to be made for not rolling out the red carpet for conservative voices, a mighty strong case in 2019, and a price to be paid for it. That price is being in a left wing echo chamber.

Again, how does the fact that modern conservatism is a hothouse turn us into a "left wing echo chamber"? You're making the same argument that James Bennet made with hiring Bari Weiss and Bret Stephens, and it's just as bad here as it is at the New York Times - we don't need contrarianism as a form of mental vegetable eating.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:28 AM on June 10 [30 favorites]


The main difference is that the mainstream media gives them air cover because it burnishes their activist-revolutionary credentials.

Ah, yes, Quillette aka "Der Stürmer for boomers" should definitely be a go-to source on the scourge of leftist violence. I hear their latest cover story on--I shit you not--phrenology and race is very popular amongst the genocidal eugenicist set.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:34 AM on June 10 [54 favorites]


I don't pay them any mind. Let them get arrested by police if they commit violence.
I'm not sure this scales. Every time there's a Charleston, or Pulse, or Aurora, or Las Vegas, or countless other mass shootings in this vein; communities are terrorized and tens of people are killed. So all they need to do is keep radicalizing and they can get a big multiplier on terror.

More to the point, even without that there's no way it works ethically. You're saying "communities targeted by stochastic violence, don't do anything but react, don't do anything to prevent this". And you're trusting in police when there's a long record of these groups specifically joining/infiltrating police & military.

You say "they have a right to be fools", but that comes at a cost which you're all too willing to let others pay for your peace of mind.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:35 AM on June 10 [43 favorites]


Bothsides/contrarianism on settled issues (human rights, slavery, racism, climate change, vaccines) isn't eating vegetables, its eating poison
posted by benzenedream at 11:38 AM on June 10 [34 favorites]


Thanks, zombieflanders, for getting there before me. Jon Kay is a senior editor there, for crying out loud. It's where disgraced journalists land when they aren't famous enough to get gigs on Fox but can't bring themselves to write in crayon for a Sun paper. I don't know what Americans think of it, generally, but in Canada it is not taken seriously, and its editor Jon Kay hasn't been for years, either.
posted by Fish Sauce at 11:38 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]


This site, for starters.

LOL I think somebody has been in a “both sides” echochamber.
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on June 10 [22 favorites]


Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that just because a site or a forum doesn't just roll out the red carpet for conservative voices makes it a left wing echo chamber - I think it more illustrates how much of conservatism has become a hothouse.

Those people don't represent conservatism-----they are not conservative.

Donald Trump is not a conservative either---or Steve Bannon. They hijacked and co-opted the GOP into Trumpification.

I'm a centrist---I listen to all sides----I can't stand boring echochambers---it's boring, unoriginal, not learning anything different---but the people who listen to the YouTube stuff, they are consumers, they can listen to it or they can ignore it.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 11:39 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


BTW, if there's a list of what publications function as a gateway to right-wing extremist violence, Quillette is definitely pretty high up on the list.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:41 AM on June 10 [11 favorites]


84% of police officers who responded to a Police magazine poll in September 2016 said that they planned to vote for Trump.

Trump was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

The police aren't going to save us from the fascists, because (in many cases) they are the fascists. (Or are happy to turn a blind eye – which is functionally the same thing.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:42 AM on June 10 [50 favorites]


users who watch one extreme video are, on average, recommended videos that reflect more moderate viewpoints
Ctrl+F "regression to the mean": 0/0
posted by agentofselection at 11:48 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


More to the point, even without that there's no way it works ethically. You're saying "communities targeted by stochastic violence, don't do anything but react, don't do anything to prevent this". And you're trusting in police when there's a long record of these groups specifically joining/infiltrating police & military.

You say "they have a right to be fools", but that comes at a cost which you're all too willing to let others pay for your peace of mind.


I just don't think you can stop evil and fools. Look how long we have been in Afghanistan, 18 years now. Osama bin Laden is dead and we are still fighting Islamic terrorism----wasting time in Afghanistan.

Evil is sick (Neo-Nazis, etc.), these people have to face their judgments at the end of their lives.

Also, the police and military are the last resort, and they need to be training programs there.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 11:50 AM on June 10


I don't pay them any mind.

Must be nice to have that as an option.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:50 AM on June 10 [49 favorites]


OK, why all the hate for Quillette?

Clearly they revel in exploring various topics and controversies that more mainstream outlets won't touch, but I haven't seen a single article that advocated for violence, right-wing or otherwise.
posted by theorique at 11:51 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


84% of police officers who responded to a Police magazine poll in September 2016 said that they planned to vote for Trump.

Trump was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police.

The police aren't going to save us from the fascists, because (in many cases) they are the fascists. (Or are happy to turn a blind eye – which is functionally the same thing.)


They voted Trump because the Democrats are seen as antipolice, painting all cops as bad, when are majority of them are not.

You need a fair police department, you cannot have anarchy.

I'm a law abiding citizen, I don't like crime and lawlessness.

If they voted for Trump, that's on them. Their problem. Not mine.
posted by YankeeKing6700 at 11:53 AM on June 10


Those people don't represent conservatism-----they are not conservative.

Donald Trump is not a conservative either---or Steve Bannon. They hijacked and co-opted the GOP into Trumpification.


80% of voters who identified as conservative voted for Trump in 2016 knowing exactly what they were getting. He currently has a ~90% approval rating among registered Republicans and almost complete support from the entire GOP caucus. Wanna try again?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:53 AM on June 10 [52 favorites]


I'm a centrist---I listen to all sides, says man who otherwise completely supports far-right policies and assures us that the worst of the far right aren't really conservatives so it's not fair to lump them in would be a great headline for The Onion if it wasn't so long and also completely unoriginal and predictable.
posted by tocts at 11:58 AM on June 10 [34 favorites]


If they voted for Trump, that's on them. Their problem. Not mine.

No, dude – it's everyone's problem, because it means that a far-right demagogue, who has expressed support for white nationalists, police brutality, putting refugee children into prison camps, and various far-right conspiracy theories, has the support of the police.

It's curious how you dismiss every challenge to your arguments (such as they are) as "not your problem". What would make it your problem? At what point does the dehumanization of other people become your business? That's a serious question.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:59 AM on June 10 [86 favorites]


theorique: Jon Kay got drummed out of mainstream journalism for sustained racism against indigenous people, anti-trans misogyny, and a plethora of similar asshole behaviour over his career. And he's one of their *moderate* voices. I wasn't using hyperbole when I said they were a landing place for disgraced journalists; that is literally who they hire: journalists whose racism, misogyny, and other hateful views have become a liability for mainstream conservative outlets. They are very deliberately riding what I think of as the Jordan Peterson Line, which is to say courting far-right reactionaries and "alt-right" audiences without quite going far enough to get banned from public spaces. It's a clearing house for assholes who make their living blowing into dog whistles and supplying cover for extremists.
posted by Fish Sauce at 12:00 PM on June 10 [43 favorites]


Also see, e.g.: Philip Cross: The 'anti-fascist' left were the real fascists all along

He starts by re-defining "fascism" in a way that focuses on specific elements of historical WWII fascism (a claimed totalitarianism) while excluding many others. Then he says the kids these days are all about totalitarianism, because students always are. Of course. And you know who wanted green energy? That's right, Hitler! Liberals are the real fascists! QED!

Historical fascists murdered people. Modern fascists have been murdering people. Those are the stakes when we talk about "violence" in this context, and to elide that and argue "the Antifa" are "violent" in the same way is tantamount to dancing on the graves of all those victims. It's not just a bad argument, it's not just a shitty thing to do, it's downright dishonorable. Cross should be ashamed of himself.
posted by Western Infidels at 12:00 PM on June 10 [42 favorites]


Again, your privilege is showing. Trump is a problem for far more people than who voted for him, clearly. If you don't recognize that...I don't think you are discussing things that are, well, in reality.

And there is no "fair" policing currently in the U.S., given the disproportionate arrests and jailing of non white people.
posted by agregoli at 12:00 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


It's difficult to go 48 hours without a thread where the loosest connection results in numerous "because Capitalism" comments or, hey guess what? Just 2 comments above with a centrism straw man.

I've been on this site for a very long time, and am not a huge outlier politically against most of the membership.

And you're god damn right this is a left wing echo chamber.
posted by tclark at 12:01 PM on June 10 [16 favorites]


once we run the centrist off, let's get back to discussing whether this is an echo chamber
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:02 PM on June 10 [31 favorites]


Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that just because a site or a forum doesn't just roll out the red carpet for conservative voices makes it a left wing echo chamber

That's a pretty strawman-ish response, but even if we assume it isn't, what you're describing is manifestly one of the things that would in fact make something a left-wing echo chamber. Resonate at one frequency and damp at another and you get your amplification profile.

This is distinct from making an absolute value-judgment about this site or other echo chambers. I'm saying this as someone who likes left wing echo chambers, Metafilter in particular. An echo chamber is not the only thing it is, and it's pretty high quality as chambers go, and it is in fact possible to get many of your ideas refined or challenged here ... but not all of them, not even all the non-fascist/bigoted ones.

And that's OK. Not every space has to be equally good for everything. And I think there's even a case that left-wing echo chambers involve values that make them superior to right-wing echo chambers. It's just that nobody should assume that any site/community/network doesn't have and reinforce blind spots, or that our values and thinking can't have their own bad edges.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:02 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


once we run the centrist off, let's get back to discussing whether this is an echo chamber

Just saying one is a centrist does not automatically make it true.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:05 PM on June 10 [36 favorites]


That Philip Cross column is some of the worst, most disingenuous political philosophy I've seen in a while. It's bizarre (yet also extremely fitting) that it's in the Financial Post.
posted by asnider at 12:07 PM on June 10 [7 favorites]


again can someone explain to me the left wing violence that has swept the us because of all of these left wing echo chambers out here?

Antifa, for one, though that's a pretty loose label for a broad range of groups.


I've met Antifa, I've been to protests with Antifa. While they may not be pacifists (and seriously don't ask them to organize things - as anarchists, Roberts Rules of Order definitely do not apply), what they want is punch Nazis, not shoot them - unlike the Anti-Semites and Islamaphobes of the far right who wish to murder people.

If you wish to insist that Antifa are "just as violent" as the far right, please link to at least one violent incident where someone has been killed or seriously injured by an Antifa member in the last three years.

Because I can name Quebec (2017 - 6 killed), Pittsburgh (2018 - 11 killed), Christchurch (2019 51 killed), Poway (2019 - 1 killed). So that's 69 people killed within less than three years - and all by far right Anti-semites and/or Islamaphobes. And that's not even the 10 people killed by a self-identified incel in Toronto in 2018.
posted by jb at 12:08 PM on June 10 [39 favorites]


[YankeeKing6700, it's time for you to take a step back and let the thread be about something other than your personal position. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:15 PM on June 10 [20 favorites]


No one's arguing that Metafilter doesn't skew left. But it's not an echo chamber.

The phrase "echo chamber" is meant to denote that one cannot hear any dissenting opinions over the echo of the "approved" voices. Metafilter actually does a great job of bringing in dissenting opinions. We just also do a pretty good job of analyzing whether or not they're flawed, why one would come to that conclusion, who's an asshole, et cetera.

Metafilter has people from all over the political spectrum, and we love Republicans who engage in good faith and in fact. We have people of various faiths, and of no faith. We skew left only because we're a caring and intellectual community, and the right has tacked hard to anti-intellectualism and rugged individuality over community care.

To say that Metafilter is an echo chamber is to claim that literally any community with rules and community standards is an echo chamber. If that's the case, the term becomes useless.
posted by explosion at 12:23 PM on June 10 [54 favorites]


Honestly, I'd say that MetaFilter is more of a fuck-Trump echo chamber than a left-wing echo chamber.

There's plenty of left-wing discussion here, of course – but there are also plenty of (actual) centrists, and even a few libertarians. And we mostly get along, as long as everyone's engaging in good faith.

Considering that American conservatism has hitched its wagon to naked racism and anti-democratic values, simply being a decent human being obliges one to exclude a lot of conservative voices. And if excluding apologists for Trumpism makes us an echo chamber, then heck – sign me up for the echo chamber. We needn't tolerate that stuff here just to prove that our community is sufficiently "balanced".
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:31 PM on June 10 [41 favorites]


The phrase "echo chamber" is meant to denote that one cannot hear any dissenting opinions over the echo of the "approved" voices. Metafilter actually does a great job of bringing in dissenting opinions. We just also do a pretty good job of analyzing whether or not they're flawed, why one would come to that conclusion, who's an asshole, et cetera.

In short, what makes an echo chamber is not ideological alignment, but ideological closure. Metafilter leans leftward, but does allow other ideas to enter - though it also asks them to be defended as well. The right wing, on the other hand, closes their media circles to just their ideas. This is also what creates the hothouse environment as well - since they don't actually argue against opposing ideas, they find themselves without tools once they can no longer rely on closure.
posted by NoxAeternum at 12:42 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


where can I register for the guillotine-building workshop though
posted by escape from the potato planet at 12:55 PM on June 10 [24 favorites]


YouTube has guillotine construction content. See, it's a leftwing echo chamber too.
posted by peeedro at 1:00 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Because I can name Quebec (2017 - 6 killed), Pittsburgh (2018 - 11 killed), Christchurch (2019 51 killed), Poway (2019 - 1 killed). So that's 69 people killed within less than three years - and all by far right Anti-semites and/or Islamaphobes. And that's not even the 10 people killed by a self-identified incel in Toronto in 2018.

You have a point there - and one could look back to (e.g.) Breivik and Dylann Roof as well.

However, nobody in the mainstream right is looking back at these guys and thinking "well, they did a good thing, good for them". In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.
posted by theorique at 1:02 PM on June 10


In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.

While continuing to foment the environment that stochastic terrorism feeds on. It's the "hocodaknowde" argument, and it's a morally bankrupt one.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:09 PM on June 10 [28 favorites]


Because I can name Quebec (2017 - 6 killed)

Immediately after which - a mere hour or two - some of the people depicted in the photo montage that accompanies the NYT piece were sending out vidoes from the streets of Quebec City claiming that the mosque shooter was a Muslim. The actual shooter was remarkably similar to Caleb Cain.

In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.

Actually, a Conservative MP in Canada read the Christchurch shooter's manifesto at a Muslim witness appearing before a House of Commons committee just over a week ago. While the leader of said party has slapped his wrist by stripping him of his comittee seat, that party leader appeared on the same stage as known neo-Nazis (again, some of whom appear in that NYT montage) at a "United We Roll" (aka gilet jaunes, aka yellow vest) protest on Parliament Hill.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:09 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.

Kind of? I'm not sure how far uttering the words "killing people in cold blood is bad" gets you if you are very, very obviously getting into a defensive crouch over the fact that that the shooters were big fans of 95% of the same ideologies that you're a big fan of (the 5% difference being "but maybe don't kill anyone over it" vs. "kill some people over it".)
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:09 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


The commentators on the left are saying "this violence is deplorable, we need to do something."

The commentators on the right are saying, "this violence is deplorable, but it's a cost of our freedoms."

They may be saying it's bad, but they view it as a cost of doing business. They know better than admit that, but their actions speak volumes.
posted by explosion at 1:10 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


I don't pay them any mind. Let them get arrested by police if they commit violence.

Ahhh, I love the smell of privilege in the morning.

People who commit violence are mentally ill... People who do [X] are not true conservatives.

It seems like a lot of right wingers spend a lot of time playing no-true-Scotsman whack-a-mole with their fellow travelers. "Who him? Nah, I don't know him."

In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.

I quote: "You also had some very fine people on both sides..." If that's not mainstream, I don't know what is.

---

MetaFilter might be a left echo chamber if there was a meaningful definition of "left" that applied to even a plurality of its members. But there isn't. We have everything here, and while in one thread there might be consensus so uniform it looks like group-think, in another, the same people might be tearing each other apart. There are a few conservatives who tend to get pounded pretty hard but, unless they're just trolling, their voices get heard.

MetaFilter is more of a safe space (a phrase I use earnestly, without irony). In so-called "free" forums, the voices of the right are so numerous and violent that they drive other users out. This has happened to at least one local left-leaning news that I used to frequent -- the stories were good, but the moderation policy removed personal insults while allowing "arguments" about, for example, the right of other users to exist. That hasn't happened here, and the Iron Dome of moderation is what keeps it real.
posted by klanawa at 1:10 PM on June 10 [25 favorites]


Metafilter leans leftward, but does allow other ideas to enter - though it also asks them to be defended as well.

I do think that, to the extent that right-leaning ideas are subject to greater scrutiny than left-leaning ideas, there is the potential for a place like MetaFilter to become an echo chamber.

High standards are only effective when they're applied universally -- on the contrary, stringent requirements selectively applied are a hallmark of corrupt and discriminatory systems.

So I think a critical piece of MetaFilter's defense against turning into an echo chamber is more its collective willingness to call out left-leaning nonsense.

I also am personally grateful for this, since MetaFilter has more than once prevented me from making a fool of myself by parading some dumb idea or bogus "fact" out into the world.
posted by bjrubble at 1:15 PM on June 10 [14 favorites]


yeah, I take centrism more to be "I'm concerned about how we would pay for medicaire for all without going into debt because of reasons and facts X Y Z", not bad faith "both sides have echo chambers, both are equally bad!!" bullshit. that's not centrism, that's just more right wing smear tactics to try to make it look like people becoming radicalized by "echo chambers" and shooting up a mosque is some natural force of nature that can not be prevented and they have nothing to do with it. "the left is the same, you see, they hate the police and they join antifa and stuff!" but it's one fucking side that's shooting people and calling in bomb threats to abortion clinics, it's one fucking side and we all know goddamn well which side that is.

and while left wing echo chambers like Metafilter or Left Twitter or Contrapoints or r/bernie2020 or r/chapotraphouse exist they sure as shit don't have anything to do with any of the violence noted above above so bringing them up is a total red herring, it's facist apologia garbage and not centrism.
posted by windbox at 1:20 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


Maybe Stephen Colbert's truest quote is "Reality has a well-known liberal bias." That's why I personally feel that MetaFilter is a "Reality Echo Chamber".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:20 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


That hasn't happened here
On second thought, some users would disagree with me here.
posted by klanawa at 1:21 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


From time to time I feel like the difference between socialism and a planned economy gets lost here. I also sometimes don't feel like there's enough skepticism about government monopolies, which are all the fun of regular monopolies which can also arrest or shoot you.


But these things are discussed in good faith, so I don't think this is an echo chamber.
posted by BeeDo at 1:41 PM on June 10 [8 favorites]


> However, nobody in the mainstream right is looking back at these guys and thinking "well, they did a good thing, good for them". In every case, commentators on the right were deploring violence and saying publicly that these violent deeds were detestable.

It seems pretty goalpost-move-y to insert the "mainstream" qualifier in a discussion of an article about spaces where nobody needs an expensive TV studio or a printing press to get their ideas out to a large audience. If the bar you're setting for the mainstream right is "doesn't literally celebrate violence against their political enemies", well, I'm sorry, but I'm all out of cookies.

Perhaps they're not cheering about dead liberals on the regular, but they sure are employing plenty of bothsidesism:

America is plagued by right-wing violence. Pundits need to stop calling it a "both sides" issue.

After a far-right gunman massacres Muslims in Christchurch, a Fox analyst warns of "extremists on all sides"

whataboutism:

Fox guest responds to question about Christchurch massacres by complaining about tech companies' supposed censorship of conservatives

and double standards:

Fox & Friends ignores violent attack by far-right group Proud Boys while fearmongering about supposed left-wing “mob rule”

Laura Ingraham hosts leader of right-wing group responsible for violent Portland riots for softball interview

Stochastic terrorism doesn't require a large, well-funded entity at the top claiming responsibility for the attacks and promising more of them. The fact that the best you can do is "well, the right wing isn't ISIS" speaks volumes.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:49 PM on June 10 [33 favorites]


What I watch on Youtube (aside from Peppa Pig for the kids) is pretty much David Harvey, Murray Bookchin, and other assorted lefty nerdery. Every fucken time I get Jordan Peterson in my suggestions. That‘s like...a complete 180, ideology-wise. It doesn‘t make any sense. I‘ve never watched any of his videos nor do I intend to. Yeah, it’s always struck me as weird that there are no ‚extremist‘ suggestions going into the left direction. Not that I need or want to be radicalized, but it‘s just something you notice on youtube.
posted by The Toad at 2:08 PM on June 10 [12 favorites]


In any of these conversations people are so quick to say "Get rid of Youtube" or whatever the platform is, without a second thought. The issue is NOT YouTube as a whole, or the idea of YouTube or all the creators on YouTube or EVEN every way in which YouTube is run. YouTube is a massive conglomeration of content and creators. (The same goes for Twitter, and Reddit, and Instagram, and more.)

And we see this spiraling into radical behavior happening in a plethora of different ways, in ALL points in history. Long before YouTube, people how found ways to pick out those that are vulnerable to such radicalization. Often with crosslines of white supremacy and male entitlement, given the demographics.

Saying "get rid of it entirely" denies thousands and millions of creators who are doing amazing stuff. Just look at the Askme's around good YouTube content. There are some wholesome, fun, funny, and especially educational videos that honestly change lives for the better. You can learn to do how an entire new job on YouTube. Small businesses can grown their customers. You have a place for fun content that otherwise wouldn't be on any other place - unless it were similar in structure.

No. The issue is how to moderate people. And that's an issue humans have faced from the beginning of humanity. Anywhere humans are, there needs to be moderation. Because the unfortunately reality is there are humans creating harm everywhere. It's about finding a way to moderate that doesn't harm those who are doing good.

And yes, YouTube being an area where there is a mass amount of users and there has previously been a lack of moderation, there is of course a problem. Just about everything on the internet has made it easier for radicalized groups to gain traction. But just "get rid of YouTube" doesn't solve it. Another site will pop up in its place. There needs to be more research and understanding and guidelines toward what moderation looks like and an understanding of the power of algorithms.

And you'll also notice that many of these start in gaming. This article focuses so hard on YouTube that it's almost ignoring the huge link to gaming. And gaming culture is one of the most violent areas. The abuse I received as a young girl playing video games online is unlike anything I experienced elsewhere. And the protection you have in online gaming is laughable. Sure, you can report and block people but as we all know they just keep coming. At least an algorithm can learn what content goes in what category and what may not be allowed.

I don't have an answer for any of this. In many ways it's just a different flavor of what's been going on since the beginning of time. I do think social media needs better moderation. But we have to also work to solve the underlying issues in society that are pushing more and more people to these views, YouTube or not.

Any hand waving "let's get rid of X social media" negatively affects MILLIONS of people around the world. For example, disabled folks like myself. "If you can leave" feels like another form of othering for those of us that don't fit or can't participate in other spaces.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:43 PM on June 10 [22 favorites]


Anybody who's claiming Metafilter is a left-wing echo chamber in the same thread in which someone is honestly arguing in favor of Quillette, 2019's leading source for phrenology and "what if black people are just genetically inferior to white people?" articles, is either not paying attention or not arguing in good faith.
posted by IAmUnaware at 3:19 PM on June 10 [47 favorites]


What I watch on Youtube (aside from Peppa Pig for the kids) is pretty much David Harvey, Murray Bookchin, and other assorted lefty nerdery. Every fucken time I get Jordan Peterson in my suggestions.

People who liked videos of David Harvey or Murray Bookchin being "DEMOLISHED" liked the Jordan Peterson videos. So maybe you will too!
posted by thelonius at 3:47 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Folks interested in this discussion may also find this conversation interesting, as well.

The interviewee puts forth an argument that really stuck with me and seems relevant here. The shortest summary I can produce is that lawyers and scientists both do something we call 'reasoning', but they go about it in very different ways and produce very different outcomes.

The main thing I took away from it was that while I can spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to convince 'the other side' that my points are valid, much of that effort is wasted. All human brains are prone to bias; only some believe that is the case.

If I want to advance causes I care about, there are more productive ways to spend my finite resources. To someone who cares about a certain kind of intellectual debate more than those causes, that probably looks like I'm opting into an echo chamber.

The thing is, even if they're right, I can still use my energy better elsewhere. I don't owe them anything, and their judgements are irrelevant.
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:46 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


In any of these conversations people are so quick to say "Get rid of Youtube" or whatever the platform is, without a second thought.

Wait, who said that? I took people as asking YouTube not to recommend and monetize some videos, not shut down.
posted by thegears at 5:21 PM on June 10 [3 favorites]


Um, I just came to say, that I have been watching T1J and Shaun and AngieSpeaks videos, and they are pretty great for learning about the rising fascism in the anglophone world and how to defend yourself and your friends from it, intellectually, while being relaxing, and that makes them pretty cool.

Also the wyatt cenac show! It s great, although I'm going to have to cancel hbo soon. What a great, investigative show!

I had a thought, by way of trying to argue that this problem of knowledge generation and informal learning goes so much further, beyond youtube.

That thought was that journalists / fact checkers are biased toward anti-fa in the same way they are biased toward police.

anti-fa and police both do a ton of investigative labor that the journalists used to get paid to do--or never got paid to do!-- but being friends with these folks is a labor saving strategy for journos nowadays, when fewer journo bosses are paying the professionals to investigate.

Of course, anti fascist groups are going to have a much different perspective from the police, and so, again, the reporting will be biased toward whatever culture can out-organize and out verify the other.

If capitalists want to stop journalists from having a bias for anti fascism, they should stop firing so many journalists and fact checkers and moderators, or stop squeezing them to keep doing more with less.

Or, they could just go the fox news route, and disavow any claim to truth. I find the fact that the Murdock empire was a serious problem for people who cared about facts, long before YouTube ---that is the most convincing argument, to me, that the internet itself is not the source of the problem.
posted by eustatic at 5:30 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Mr Justice, drop it immediately, you are on the thinnest of ice here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:40 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


[Correction to my prior note: Mr Justice, this is actually enough, after a lengthy track record of what I'll overcharitably characterize as boundary-testing from you on various subjects over the years, so I'm banning you.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:53 PM on June 10 [11 favorites]


If I watch a Joe Rogan video on Youtube (I wouldn't call myself a fan and I sure as hell don't agree with everything he says, but he's interesting sometimes and he has some great guests on) I can look forward to days of recommendations of videos about "SJW snowflakes" and all that shit. Same for if I watch a video critical of the new Star Wars movies or some Bill Burr standup. But if I watch, for example, a Princess and the Scrivener video about intersectional feminism as it applies in Disney movies, I might get some recommendations for videos of commentary about cartoons but those videos probably won't have anything to do with feminism. Youtube is just way too eager to lead you down the garden path that ends at the front porch of the Proud Boys. Maybe it's all purely the algorithm, but if so the algorithm is accidentally evil.

The phrase "echo chamber" is meant to denote that one cannot hear any dissenting opinions over the echo of the "approved" voices. Metafilter actually does a great job of bringing in dissenting opinions.

I am trans and a strident lefty feminist, and I've given up posting about anything to do with gender on Metafilter because no matter how strenuously I bend over backwards to be polite and respectful my comments will get deleted. I don't know if it's an echo chamber exactly, because a lot of the people who do have a voice here are using it to yell at each other, but if a namby-pamby, far-lefty loon like me isn't allowed to speak up I gotta figure a whole lot of other voices aren't being heard either.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:15 PM on June 10 [25 favorites]


It's depressing. Right before the election of 2016, I was discussing Trump v. Hillary with a coworker, and a younger coworker angrily interjected and spat "I saw a video where Hillary supporters were BEATING UP POLICE!!!" I told him that whatever he saw was most likely fake, and he just shook his head, because I'm clearly an idiot.

My older coworkers, as I've noted before, seem to listen to a lot of vile content and seem to be very, very bad at filtering out the obvious lies and propaganda. There seem to be entire Facebook pages dedicated to delivering a steady stream of videos along the lines of "Democrats just voted to allow dangerous MS-13 gang members into your hometown" and "a black woman in Sioux Falls entered a restaurant and disrespected the police and the military."

Just last night, my older coworker saw some spam link on his phone that read "Jack Nicholson lives in a mansion with his partner" and he immediately believed this meant that "Jack Nicholson is gay."

Whether Jack Nicholson has ever slept with another man is up in the air. But I was shocked at how be believed it, automatically and fully.

As for my experience with left-wing echo chambers, the most I can say is that in 2016, saying that the new Ghostbusters movie was simply a bad movie was definitely viewed as thoughtcrime.
posted by Chronorin at 7:27 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Wait, who said that? I took people as asking YouTube not to recommend and monetize some videos, not shut down.

Well, someone said this upthread:
Youtube is malware for your brain. Block it at the network level everywhere you are able to.

Which I took figuratively, not as a call to action for systems administrators, but who knows.
posted by thelonius at 7:31 PM on June 10


My older coworkers, as I've noted before, seem to listen to a lot of vile content and seem to be very, very bad at filtering out the obvious lies and propaganda

Related: “ Four recent studies found that older Americans are more likely to consume and share false online news than those in other age groups, even when controlling for factors such as partisanship.”

Related: the online radicalization treadmill, from fox news to stormfront

Related: A review of the Facebook accounts of thousands of officers around the US — the largest database of its kind — found officers endorsing violence against Muslims, women, and criminal defendants.
posted by The Whelk at 7:52 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


It's hard to balance out rights of free speech and rights to live free from hate speech. Generally, I think governments should be careful when regulating speech.

But when it comes to the police and armed forces, that's where we have to have a zero tolerance rule for intolerance. These are people who have the power to wield violence on behalf of the state. It is essential that they not be biased against any residents (legal or illegal) within that state.

Seriously: I would like to see not just anti-bias training, but also testing and monitoring for bias and removal of any who don't believe in the rights of all residents. These are positions of great power that can be mis-used - and we need to make the bar higher than for regular citizens.
posted by jb at 8:27 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


to follow up on my previous comment: I realise that such a policy might result in the removal of a majority of police officers. That's probably not a bad idea. I don't hate the police, but the institutions and culture are so poisoned, I'm not sure there is hope for anything short of a root-deep reform.
posted by jb at 8:29 PM on June 10 [6 favorites]


> I never see this stuff on YT. I guess all the drag queen makeover videos I watch insulate me.

> What I watch on Youtube (aside from Peppa Pig for the kids) is pretty much David Harvey, Murray Bookchin, and other assorted lefty nerdery. Every fucken time I get Jordan Peterson in my suggestions.
Several months ago we bought an AppleTV. Without going into the how & why, everything to do with that - from purchase, through the email & app accounts used, to the initial setup - was all done as untraceably as we could make it. Cash, VPNs, the lot. And in subsequent use, literally the only connection between that AppleTV and our other internet activities is the IP address.

We've each got separate YouTube accounts on it, which themselves are totally separate from the ones we use on our computers/phones - and, regardless, all of our subscribed Youtube channels are pretty innocuous (travel/flight videos, vintage radio/electronics, cats, nice family channels, model engineering, NFSA / British Pathé docos & clips, etc).

Jordan fuckin' Peterson, Sam Harris, and various other 'just asking' and 'the hidden problem with …' recommendations from day one, on both accounts…

It's backed off that a fair bit - these days it'll only recommend me a couple per session - but it's still throwing them in there, and popping up even futher Right-wing ones. For instance, the other day I discovered there's a whole sub-genre of "History Channel WWII docos, re-edited and Rifftrax'd by neo-Nazis" out there, after Youtube started recommending them at me.

(There's also a staggering amount of structural bias in the suggestions we each receive e.g. it's obviously worked out I'm male & my partner's female, so I get AFL, gym, gamer, prepper/EDC, gunsmithing, & MRA recommendations; while she gets recipe, makeup, clothes, reality tv, and what I can only describe as "an endless succession of 'young couples explaining they broke up because they both Got Woke and embraced God [and|or|-] Trump'" videos.

She also gets all the "Frozen is bad and full of bad lessons, so you should feel bad!" and "Teh Gheys will destroy your marriage!" videos, while I get the "I'ma gonna spend 2 hours explaining why Tinder is biased against betas like you" videos…)

posted by Pinback at 8:30 PM on June 10 [17 favorites]


Meh, the really obnoxious left-wing echo chambers are the ones filled with Tankies and other flavors of it's-not-genocide-when-we-do-it apologists. They tend to be backwards-looking rather than forwards-looking.

I don't know of any hard studies, or even methodologically how you'd go about such a study, but it's always seemed to me that the left expends a lot of its energy and vitriol on internal debates, while the right has the "any plan is better than no plan" thing going on where someone apparently throws a dart at a board covered with potential enemies, and everyone shrugs and moves out to go after Today's Enemy. There's not a lot of logic, as far as I can see, to how the herd picks who it's going to go after, but they go after their choice en masse.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:53 PM on June 10 [4 favorites]


As for my experience with left-wing echo chambers, the most I can say is that in 2016, saying that the new Ghostbusters movie was simply a bad movie was definitely viewed as thoughtcrime.

No, it really wasn't from what I saw (and this sort of clumsy attempt to co-opt the themes of 1984 is something that has gotten old.) You basically had a lot of people who were using "but I'm just saying it's a bad movie" as cover for letting their misogynistic flag fly, and it got to the point where the bad faith actors poisoned the well for everyone.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:54 PM on June 10 [13 favorites]


This site, for starters.

Dude, this site is about as bourgeois as it gets

It's one of the better sites on the internet, but it ain't a lefty echo chamber
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:08 PM on June 10 [18 favorites]


but it ain't a lefty echo chamber

well, not with that attitude
posted by The Whelk at 11:25 PM on June 10 [34 favorites]


FWIW, if you find yourself annoyed that YouTube keeps trying to advertise dumb videos to you, you can use a tool like uBlock Origin to remove the YouTube sidebar entirely. I recommend it. You can remove the comment section as well, if you like.
posted by value of information at 11:28 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I think the thing that kills me the most about this is that it's definitely history... well, if not echoing, rhyming pretty hard. In retrospect, this reminds me of the rise of right-wing talk radio, and the effect it had on US culture.

"The radio will be for the twentieth century what the press was for the nineteenth century. With the appropriate change, one can apply Napoleon’s phrase to our age, speaking of the radio as the eighth great power." The Radio as the Eight Great Power by Joseph Goebbels

you had better do what you're told. You had better listen to the radio.
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Saying "get rid of it entirely" denies thousands and millions of creators who are doing amazing stuff. Just look at the Askme's around good YouTube content. There are some wholesome, fun, funny, and especially educational videos that honestly change lives for the better. You can learn to do how an entire new job on YouTube. Small businesses can grown their customers. You have a place for fun content that otherwise wouldn't be on any other place - unless it were similar in structure.

Video sharing is fairly trivial these days with embedded players in most browsers. If youtube somehow imploded there would be another video sharing site that would take its place within a week. The good videos on youtube are there because of good people posting useful content, not because youtube has fostered that culture.

The two main things youtube has done that other sites haven't is:

1) Navigate the murky waters behind profiting off of a lot of pirated IP, thanks to Google's deep pockets buying them years of negotiating time
2) Develop a system for keeping the average viewer watching ads as long as possible with autoplay, "recommendations", and propagating viral videos regardless of content

I'd argue both of these are bad things in the long run and not offset by the useful videos. I think at this point cortex's Reddit metaphor applies to youtube:
RedditYoutube is more like a restaurant with an awesome eclectic flight of wines. And some of the most popular selections are actually glasses of sewage. And the wine flight is well known to local drinkers for the sewage, whether because they're annoyed about it or because they're big fans of shit-in-a-glass [ed: Jordan Peterson]. And if you want to have some friends out to the joint to drink some wine for the first time, you have to give them preemptive instructions on how the first thing they should is carefully dump out all the glasses of sewage and then order some other wine instead. Because the pinot is really nice.
posted by benzenedream at 11:57 PM on June 10 [9 favorites]


Mods here keep the echo chamber effect from getting MeFites to build guillotines. Other left wing sites are probably looser on that criterion though.

I've been on left wing forums where people talk big about stuff like this and the thing is, for better or for worse, I am quite sure that few of the people I see talking radical left politics online have it in them to pose a credible threat to anybody or anything.
posted by atoxyl at 12:15 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I find it hard to define "echo chamber" precisely. Is MeFi an echo chamber? It is a place where the range of political opinions is pretty narrow, and has probably gotten narrower. Probably more left-liberal than radical left, though there is certainly some representation of the latter, with some idiosyncrasies related to who actually posts here. That last part is sort of the thing about Metafilter, though - it's small enough, and enough like a community, that it feels like the shape of discussion comes from small-group dynamics. You know who you are trying to get along with. You are (hopefully) trying to be respectful to actual people. What's scary about YouTube is that it's just got a bunch of right-wing propagandists, broadcasting, and they've so saturated the recommendation system that its easy for the merely curious to get drawn in.
posted by atoxyl at 12:45 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


So glad this thread has become an extended riff on how contrarians that can still post comments on this site have a boo-hoo about it being an echo chamber instead of, y'know, a discussion on the mechanisms of how enormous companies are helping facilitate the harassment, assaults, and murders of marginalized groups.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:49 AM on June 11 [28 favorites]


Leader of worker protests at Google quits, alleging "retaliation" by company
"If I stayed, I didn't just worry that there'd be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it," Stapleton, a marketing manager at YouTube, wrote in a Medium post explaining her decision to resign from her position after 12 years at Google.

Relaying that she was expecting another child in the fall, Stapleton said she was mindful of the potential impact to her health as well as her "incredible privilege in being able to walk away from a job like this."

In an emailed statement, Google thanked Stapleton for her work, while refuting her account of how she'd been treated.

"We thank Claire for her work at Google and wish her all the best. To reiterate, we don't tolerate retaliation. Our employee relations team did a thorough investigation of her claims and found no evidence of retaliation. They found that Claire's management team supported her contributions to our workplace, including awarding her their team Culture Award for her role in the walkout," a spokesperson for the technology company stated.

Google's public stances came under fire again this week when YouTube changed its tune on enforcing anti-harassment policies of one user who spouted homophobic and racist slurs against a Vox reporter.
posted by kliuless at 6:14 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


This is a complete sidebar, but I'd argue that if you were looking to define a "lefty" echo chamber, you'd probably want to look at the left's tendency towards purity tests that at the moment is called "cancel culture". It appears to be a reaction to the charming tendency of leftist figures to turn out to have been abusive, but it leads to people who are generally doing good work, like Contrapoints, being attacked because they're insufficiently inclusive. You'll get lots of people who deliberately confuse exclusion and focus, especially when they can point to a genuine wider exclusion of their narratives.

Take for instance the FPP on the recent poll taken of classic composers, which is framed as being primarily about dead white men. Realistically, given the sweep of history we're dealing with here and who's been able to be a composer, that list is going to be primarily dead white men and contemporary composers, or it's going to be a distortion of what classical music composition looks like, because for 300 years or so it was a dead white man's game. We couldn't even celebrate the increasing diversity of the list without framing it as being bad that the list exists at all.

What this ends up doing is sapping energy from allies and putting off the curious, who see the right's smears of the left as being interested more in identity politics than in building a better world reflected in the things we spend our time talking about. People like to listen to people who seem like them, which is why the right-wing radicalisation factory is so effective: they've got people at varying levels of radicalisation, and you can go from relatively normal, ironic racism like PewDiePie right up to the Proud Boys without ever feeling like the people you're watching are too alien from who you currently are. The left actively sabotages that happening for us.

The problem we haven't solved is that better world we're working towards is indeed fairer to those who've been historically marginalised, so we do need to talk about these issues, and we do need to be careful not to elevate people who abuse that trust. But we also have to do it without being desperately tedious, or attacking people who only agree with us on the important things, in communities we don't reach with socialist pamphlets or activist language.
posted by Merus at 6:41 AM on June 11 [14 favorites]


Metafilter is an echo chamber only insofar as all threads on politics here are basically identical, with the same posts being made in exactly the same way, collecting enough favorites to ensure that the next time a similar thread is made, the same post will be made again in the same way in order to collect favorites.

None of these posts are wrong or bad, they’re often pithy and incisive and correct, but once you’ve read them a hundred times from a hundred different people you start to wonder what the point of it all is. There’s not a lot of point in reading a thread here about politics or Facebook or other hot button issues because if you’ve read one, you’ve read them all.

But, it’s not cause of “epistemic closure” or whatever, it’s cause the community has basically reached consensus on these topics and there isn’t anything new to say about them.
posted by mpbx at 7:02 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Also, this tweet I think sums up why a lot of Internet Discourse sucks in 2019, especially as it relates to the above post about “cancel culture.”

@dexterauthor: A habit that Twitter inadvertently teaches is that texts are a series of discrete fragments, each of which must be individually hardened against the most ungenerous interpretations—this is damaging for most other prose forms and particularly fatal for fiction

Like, that’s why the classical composer post is framed the way it is. To guard against the inevitable comment about how the list is inherently exclusive or representative of an exclusive culture.
posted by mpbx at 7:06 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure that social media in general is oriented as much to discussion as it is to channeling opinions towards ever increasing outrage. All new media has its analog, and in social media's case that analog is the mob. Individuals in a mob will chirp and blurt without saying anything really interesting. The point is to cheer the mob along to its boiling point. Contradicting points are generally disruptive and discouraged. It's generally more of a ride that one is swept along with than an earnest discussion.

Masha Gessen from the New Yorker reviewed many of the Russian IRA's memes and came to the conclusion they were fake, because they were poor and unconvincing arguments. I think she's just unfamiliar with social media. If a reporter from the past looked at much of social media they might reach the same conclusion. Hey guys, these posts on these social media platforms? These are so pointless and stupid I'm having a hard time believing these are real.

The point then is not so much to have a discussion as it is to participate in the outrage. A metaphor would be slot machines, which virtually appear to be a game, but which are not a game. Again, a reporter from another time first encountering a slot machine might be skeptical that anyone would really play it. What would be the point? In reality though, it's the most addictive "game" ever created. People give over everything they have to play slot machines: their money, their families, their well being.

Metafilter is probably the best of all the social media platforms, but it can't escape the structural flaws implicit in the medium. Individual postings are short, and therefore can't easily explore issues in depth. They are one in a crowd and therefore tend to be attention getting and oriented to achieving group adulation. Generally, the whole point may be more to participate in shared identity than to rationally explore an issue or change minds.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts I have kicking around in my head in regards to social media in general when I sometimes mull over whether or not it's a healthy medium.
posted by xammerboy at 7:25 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


It happened to talk radio and internet comment sites long before youtube.
I think it all has something to do with left/liberal/progressives concern for niceness.
Which I am not putting down or denigrating!
posted by Chitownfats at 7:44 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


There is a definite bias toward right-wing points of view on YouTube. I subscribe to Contrapoints and Lindsay Ellis, and I get recommendations for Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, etc, despite never watching those videos on YouTube. The algorithm so far hasn't recommended me any other feminist critiques of pop culture, but it does seem to think I want to hear from Prager U about "cUltUrAl mARxIsm." I watch a review of those Star Wars toys marketed at girls, and my recs fill up with white dudes yelling about how Star Wars SJWs are blah blah blerg rarrrr. It's so bad their recommendations are basically useless to me unless I want to watch music videos. There are topics I know I can't even type into YouTube because I'm going to get all kinds of garbage.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:31 AM on June 11 [12 favorites]


>"Realistically, given the sweep of history we're dealing with here and who's been able to be a composer, that list is going to be primarily dead white men and contemporary composers, or it's going to be a distortion of what classical music composition looks like, because for 300 years or so it was a dead white man's game."

White European men, for 300 years, were not the only ones composing "classical" music. The Poll question just asks for "your favourite composers" and doesn't specify "European" or "western" or even a time period. Maybe ABC's respondents aren't very familiar with classical music from plenty of other cultures (not even getting to modern composers), but that only speaks to our ongoing struggle to decolonize. The value of inclusivity is that it challenges assumptions like this.

Purity tests can and do go too far, and we can argue about where the line is, but why would that post's framing sap anyone's energy, when it doesn't even address allies' attempts to act in solidarity? I'd personally think of a harmful purity test as something more like "here's where [Ally]'s successfully accomplished [good thing] is meaningless because they don't subscribe to our particular ideology".

Also did Contrapoints get canceled? That video about Why is LeftTube so White? doesn't do that, it mostly touches on how white youtubers tend to be believed when they make claims while youtubers of color, even on the left, need to be approved by a white person in order to be believed. I've scaled back my social media use, so I could easily have missed some calls to cancel.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:31 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


No, Contrapoints isn't canceled. Kat Blaque was pretty explicit that her critique of white privilege on You Tube wasn't to be construed as a call-out of Natalie, and Natalie has very much supported Kat's perspective, and explicitly called for people to listen to PoC on this issue. I think people are treating this discussion as a conflict when it is not.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:45 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


I'm gonna comment on a few generalized posts from this thread so none of this is pointed at anybody in particular!

MeFi isn't a lefty echo chamber, it's a white people echo chamber, and this includes myself. If MeFi was a lefty echo chamber it'd be nothing but Trotskyists and tankies yelling back and forth at each other.

The right-wing in America appears to be totally homogenized with a few certain niches carved out of it, like anti-abortion fanatics vs Proud Boys. I doubt you'll see Proud Boys at an anti-abortion rally but you'd probably see those two groups co-mingling at a larger right-wing event (like a Trump rally, for example). Since these groups are so homogenized and have a "coherent", stabilized ideology that's reinforced by the State and the Media it's a lot easier for them to pump out boat loads of content. It's easier for them to create videos about why the "libs" want there to be no borders, versus some guy explaining the history of borders and critical theory about borders and the theoretical and conceptual idea of borders and the semiotics of borders. On top of that, it's a lot easier for them to engage without any content at all. An edited video of Jordan Peterson "totally destroying this nagging feminist" is empty content, it's just an edited video and some sort of description that says "if you enjoy this please subscribe to my page! Also, here's my patreon (even though I do absolutely no work for these videos)."

YouTube and their owners and the others similar to them (Facebook) are capitalists number one, they couldn't care less about what happens to us normies, even (maybe especially!) when neo-Nazis and hostile foreign countries are using their platforms to kill and maim anyone that isn't a straight white male. That's the thing that really gets me: do people actually believe that Zuckerberg et al. care? And our elected officials are so technologically incompetent that when they finally get him in front of Congress he's pelted with elementary questions about how the internet works, then he walks away laughing all the way to the bank. These people are so divorced from the world that we all live in that they simply cannot comprehend what is happening, and if they do then they don't care because they're raking in hella money. They may not even use their own products because they're too busy managing the actual operations of the company that owns the products.

There was a discourse earlier about left-wing vs. right-wing violence, and if I remember correctly, studies show that the majority of left-wing violence is perpetrated by environmental groups. This leads me to another point that was also brought up, with "AntiFa" being thrown in as a symbol of left-wing violence. Keep in mind, I'm not condoning some of the tactics that "AntiFa" (which is literally shorthand for "anti-fascist" and can describe anyone from labor unionists to strict anarchists) uses. AntiFa's use of violence and the theory behind it is suspended in historical moments where violence was used against fascists. There's a nuance here (I hate using that word/phrase because it reeks of some pseudo-intellectual white guy but here me out!) that people miss, especially the media (because they're stupid): fascists want to subjugate and exterminate entire groups of human beings, antifascists want to stop them. It's that simple. If the use of violence is determined to be necessary to those goals, antifascists will use them. Let's also make a quick note of antifascism's use of violence and the type of tactics they use. Antifa will typically engage in street brawls, they aren't committing acts of terrorism like what you see from right-wing groups, and their threats or actual use of weapons beyond melee weapons is so minuscule as to be entirely non-existent. In Portland, our resident (as in he lives across the river in Vancouver, Canada) right-wing provocateur, Joey Gibson, and his right-wing, Proud Boys-affiliated group Patriot Prayer commonly post events for rallies in Portland, with a ton of guys on there talking about bringing guns. They actually do bring guns. They also show up wearing ridiculous costumes that double as armor and walk around with "swords" that double as...well, bludgeoning instruments. Antifa rolls up with crowbars and batons and rocks and shit like that, and they get confiscated and then the police shoot them with flashbangs and tear gas while they escort the right-wingers to their hotels (this is not an exaggeration btw I have seen this happen several times with my own eyes).

So, which is more terrorizing? Both are violent, sure, but one group's violence is specific to a particular, real life threat, and the other's is about committing genocide.

Left-wing violence is predominantly against the "state" and large multinational corporations. You don't ever see left-wingers going into a Christian megachurch and gunning down entire swaths of people at prayer. In fact, that has probably never happened, ever. Right-wing terrorists kill everybody: they murder children, toddlers, the elderly, black people, queer people, Muslims, refugees, people with disabilities, women, it doesn't matter, you're a fucking target. And those people who want to kill you watch those YouTube videos, and the people who run the companies where that's taking place on don't care! Right-wingers who commit terrorism have no identity outside of their own deaths, with their murders being a way of leaving a mark of themselves on the world, and the publication of their manifestos and the subsequent heraldry by the likes of 4chan being a form of sacrament. I think that the "left" being an open-tent political field is beneficial to a degree, because a lot of us have different, yet cohesive, identities, whereas on the right they seem to be lacking in identity, despite/in spite of (/because of?) being so homogenized, so they kill others in order to cement their own identities (and also because they hate "the other").

Going back to one of my original points, I think there's a moment where right-wingers don't even need to watch a video suggested to them, they just need to see it pop up and they'll get the same high. Do they really need to watch 30 videos of Jordan Peterson destroying feminists, or do they just need to watch 5, and see 25 more pop up so they can get a chuckle knowing one of their heroes is out there putting a woman in her place? It may not even be a matter of watching the videos, it could just be a matter of knowing that there are all these other people making these videos, so they don't watch all of them because it's good enough to see the quantity of videos out there.
posted by gucci mane at 9:24 AM on June 11 [22 favorites]


The Poll question just asks for "your favourite composers" and doesn't specify "European" or "western" or even a time period.

In fact, it is a poll voted on by listeners of a particular radio station, who are familiar with the format and scope of that station’s repertoire. It’s clearly focused mostly on music in the European “classical” idiom, because that’s the format of the radio station.
posted by mpbx at 9:26 AM on June 11 [3 favorites]


If MeFi was a lefty echo chamber it'd be nothing but Trotskyists and tankies yelling back and forth at each other.

That's a pretty narrow definition of "left" - the left also includes those within the social democracy sphere, e.g. Tommy Douglas, Jagmeet Singh, etc.

It's a wide spectrum, as is the right - which is why we use "far right" to describe the extremists. Stephen Harper, whom I have no love for, is right-wing. But he's not far right. Andrew Scheer is also not (quite) far right, but has no problem courting (and accepting the support of) the far-right, which is a terrible game that he should be called out on.
posted by jb at 9:36 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Well, TB there is a bit of an Overton-like effect where that fabled right middle is rushing over to be stealth or not so stealth fashy as quickly as possible.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


(TBH any reasonable scale based on the international state of affairs as of a couple of years ago would have put Biden and the dem establishment as center right and the bulk of the republicans far off in loony country, but these days with fascists cropping up everywhere now who can say?)
posted by Artw at 10:27 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


The echo chamber thing may be a bit of a derail, but I think it's false equivalency to say that because left-leaning-liberal points of view are common on MeFi, it's an "echo chamber." That term suggests a certain level of epistemic closure that you do see in right-wing places because there, leftward points of view are usually purposely misrepresented, and very little energy is ever expended on trying to understand left political perspectives on their own terms.

Liberals are pretty committed to trying to understand how right-wing people justify their views because of the underlying presumption that there is some fact-based rational argument that they could employ against right-wing propaganda to "convert" its adherents. Hence also the neoliberal media's commitment to "centrism" and the gallons of ink spilled trying to create sympathy for right-wing points-of-view. (The Trojan Horse of liberalism is "debate," which is why Nazis love to propagandize under that banner.) The great drawback to this approach is its willingness to accept bad-faith rhetoric at face-value, and its inability to counter emotive/irrational arguments. Liberal (Capitalist) media does plenty of work laundering right-wing perspectives and disseminating them. Even if you never touch right-wing media, you'll be exposed to those points-of-view through the "counterargument" premise of much liberal media.

If right-leaning media present liberal or left points-of-view at all, they're exaggerated, cherry-picked, or just blatant lies, to the point that what right-wingers will tell you left-wingers believe is incomprehensible conspiracy-theory nonsense like "cultural marxism." But understanding the left isn't relevant to the right because they aren't as interested in logical persuasion as emotional persuasion (especially using disgust, outrage, and fear), and/or the actual exercise of power.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 10:36 AM on June 11 [10 favorites]


Violences caused by an echo chamber associated in some ways with the left wing: measles outbreak

(Aside perhaps, but related in that it's a different rabbit hole that people fall into, and apologies for not having made it through the whole thread)
(yes, anti-vax isn't isolated to the left, cuts across political party lines, other caveats )
(This seems like a bit of a firestorm of a thread, hense some caveats)
posted by lab.beetle at 12:43 PM on June 11


Also did Contrapoints get canceled? That video about Why is LeftTube so White? doesn't do that, it mostly touches on how white youtubers tend to be believed when they make claims while youtubers of color, even on the left, need to be approved by a white person in order to be believed. I've scaled back my social media use, so I could easily have missed some calls to cancel.

This happened long before Kat Blaque, and is, I understand, mostly focused around how Contrapoints tends to frame her transition in terms of a gender binary, and can therefore be dismissive or exclusionary towards non-binary people. There might be some nuance to the critique I've missed.
posted by Merus at 11:27 PM on June 11


[A few deleted. Reminder: if you want to have a discussion or complain about Metafilter, Metatalk is where that happens.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:14 AM on June 12


mostly focused around how Contrapoints tends to frame her transition in terms of a gender binary, and can therefore be dismissive or exclusionary towards non-binary people.

so confused...

As part of her transition process, Contrapoints actually identified as non-binary. She had a whole episode about it.

(later, she did come to the point where she realized that non-binary didn't fit for her. she's also talked about how her experience doesn't fit the narrative of "having always known" - there is diversity in experiences of gender identity. I think she's insanely brave to have transitioned publicly).
posted by jb at 4:57 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


In real life, Theodore Ardorno fled Nazi Germany and wrote about the Authoritarian personality. On YouTube, he’s a heated focus of obsession by the alt-right and fellow travelers: The Cultural Marxism Industry
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 AM on June 12 [7 favorites]


Just in case anyone thinks Quillette is still either harmless or could be considered anything even slightly resembling a trustworthy source (emphasis mine):

Jared Holt: Right-wing publications launder an anti-journalist smear campaign
Quillette, a publication dedicated to “free thought,” gave Lenihan a bylined article on its site to share his claims, where Lenihan embedded posts from his Twitter thread, echoed his assertion that reporters were working to promote antifascist activists, and accused them of violating professional ethical standards. When CJR reached Quillette founding editor Claire Lehmann for comment via Twitter, she first inquired what issues CJR found with Lenihan’s study. When CJR responded asking how Quillette determined Lenihan’s allegations were legitimate, and whether Lenihan’s story underwent a fact-check or legal review prior to publication, she declined to comment.

The Quillette article was circulated approvingly on white supremacist forum Stormfront the day after its publication; a day later, a YouTube user uploaded a video of imagery of mass shooters intercut with images of the reporters mentioned by Lenihan under the heading “Sunset the Media.” Some reporters who do not cover the far-right but were listed as “connected” to antifascists by Lenihan appeared in the video.

Lenihan tells CJR via email that his methodology consisted of labeling Twitter users as “highly connected” to Antifa if they had “8 or more connections” on Twitter to either accounts run by antifascist activists, or one lecturer at Dartmouth. He also said he had provided “snippets” of his work to journalists to support his claims. “Those who received them were asked not to make them public as peer review demands exclusivity on publishing said data,” he told CJR. “Who received that information is, obviously, confidential.” Lenihan did not specify which peer-reviewed journal was considering his work for publication.
Kim Kelly: Quillette’s “Antifa Journalists” List Could’ve Gotten Me Killed
As it happens, I was one of the lucky ones. The people Lenihan singled out in his thread and in the article got the lion’s share of the harassment. Here’s the thing, ultimately: This study was never meant to start a conversation about journalistic integrity, or ethics, or anything of the sort. It was meant to target leftist journalists, and this is exactly what the right-wing propaganda machine, including Quillette, enabled it to do on a broader scale.

How can I be so sure of that? In a dragnet of journalists who were purported to cover the far-right and who were allegedly doing a terrible job of doing so, Lenihan included two academics, several publicly-identified activists (including Chelsea Manning), a hip-hop artist, and one labor-reporter-slash-heavy-metal-music-critic—me. It’s clear that he and his pals just dredged up whichever high-follower, openly leftist verified Twitter accounts they could find, and then ended up catching a number of reporters who do actually cover the far right in their net. In an effort to create a smokescreen for their smear campaign, they focused solely on those people in their justifications, neglecting to mention the rest of us—who simply hold political views they dislike, or are vocal about antifascism. Sure, I’ve written about antifascism before, but it’s certainly not my main journalistic focus. Do I follow a lot of antifascist accounts? Of course. Why? Because it’s 2019, and I know which side I’m on.

None of us should have been targeted in this way. I shouldn’t have to worry about being murdered by a neo-Nazi in between writing reviews for Pitchfork or interviewing queer labor activists for Teen Vogue (you know, the stuff I actually do). Others shouldn’t have to worry about violent threats while they’re doing the important work of tracking right-wing extremist movements, either. This should all be abundantly clear—as should Quillette’s real role in the conservative media ecosystem.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:17 AM on June 15 [7 favorites]


> Stephen Harper, whom I have no love for, is right-wing. But he's not far right.

He's going in that direction, chairing the IDU with authoritarian members, giving interviews to Ben Shaprio, and narrating videos for PraegerU!?
posted by anthill at 8:06 AM on June 15 [1 favorite]


And he incubated Jason Kenney who just can't seem to figure out why the Soldiers of Odin are so hot on the UCP.
posted by klanawa at 5:21 PM on June 15 [1 favorite]




Qanon Anonymous Podcast : Youtube, redpilling, and Online radicalism

I just listened to this, and it was pretty upsetting to see that in their illustrative experiment, the You Tube Algorithm started recommending them Jordan Peterson & Gavin Mcinnis within three clicks from a fairly innocuous Fortnite playthrough video.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:41 AM on June 19 [2 favorites]


Violences caused by an echo chamber associated in some ways with the left wing: measles outbreak

Turns out...
posted by Artw at 7:16 PM on June 20


Cory Doctrow has an op-ed over at the New York Times as part of their "op-eds from the future" bit where he waxes poetic about the frontier myth and illustrates why the tech community doesn't get what the problems are. It's just so tiresome to see the same old message, and the lack of understanding that the problems with social media online go beyond consolidation.
posted by NoxAeternum at 5:02 PM on June 24


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