Thursday, November 23, 2017

Under Trump, wealth seems to affect access to information and susceptibility to propaganda

I’ve written a lot recently about network neutrality on other blogs, and the concern that both telecom companies and large content companies like Facebook and Google will control inordinately what their customers see, for political and “fiduciary” purposes. 

I make it my own practice to look at news sources myself.  Even though I use Facebook and Twitter (Instagram not so much) I make the effort to go to news sites myself, especially all the major ones (Washington Post, New York Times, Wal Street Journal, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, as well as conservative (OAN. Fox, Intellectual Takeout, Reason, and yes, some Breitbart and some Milo) and “leftist” (Truthout), and some of the LGBT sites (Blade), and tech sites (Wired, CNET).

The major newspapers do have paywalls.  Right now I subscribe to three of them.

I also use what I think is the best source for my own articles.  These often include newspaper sites that have paywalls.  Facebook is reportedly working on a way to have a universal subscription to anything that previews but has a paywall.  But the point that the “Left” makes, especially in the network neutrality debate, is well taken:  less well-off people don’t have the money for paid subscriptions or fast lane service, and will be more vulnerable to believe “propaganda” that the companies encourage them to see.  While fake news should recede as a problem, vulnerability of poorer people to control of what they know and understand could increase in this Trump-like world.
I am concerned about the future of access to individual sites (not so much free-hosted blogs like this one but to hosted sites of small businesses and writers) because the “proles” may have less reason to know that they’re there.

The battle against elitism has only brought it back.

In the meantime, this Thanksgiving day, notice YouTube’s new rules for content that carries ads (story in the Verge) 

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