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Big Revolution - Navigating the troll line

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Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. On days when this email hits your inbox bang on 10am UK time, it
 
August 3 · Issue #159 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s Big Revolution. On days when this email hits your inbox bang on 10am UK time, it means either I’ve been super organised and efficient or have something I need to do at 10am. Today it’s the latter, so let’s get on with it…
Martin

Big things you need to know today
  • The first early reviews are in for the Microsoft Surface Go. This low-cost Windows tablet lives up to expectations with a great UX but weak performance. Engadget has a measured view, while TNW’s Napier Lopez says it’s his favourite PC.
  • Musical.ly, the hit app that had teens lipsyncing to popular songs, has shut down. It’s features and users have been transferred to TikTok, an app made by the company that acquired it earlier this year. Will the users stick around?
The big thought
The downsides of Twitter were on show again
Navigating the troll line
History seemed to repeat itself this week. After the New York Times announced Sarah Jeong, currently a senior writer with The Verge, was joining its editorial board.
You may remember that the last woman to be named for this role, Quinn Norton, had her appointment swiftly cancelled after unsavoury tweets from her past were uncovered by Twitter users unhappy with the news.
The same happened to Jeong as old tweets in which she reacted to racist abuse by satirising ‘anti-white’ racism were highlighted by a group of largely far-right trolls.
Now, some may argue that the circumstances behind the two cases were different – I’m not going to pass judgment on that – but the fact remains that ‘dredging up old tweets to undermine prominent (especially female) hires’ is something employers seem likely to have to deal with in the future, so it’s worth looking at the reaction to this case.
The New York Times and Jeong both swiftly addressed the criticism, rightfully brushing it off. The Verge went further, supporting their team member (Jeong is still working her notice period there) and pointing out the strategy behind the attacks:
”Online trolls and harassers want us, the Times, and other newsrooms to waste our time by debating their malicious agenda. They take tweets and other statements out of context because they want to disrupt us and harm individual reporters. The strategy is to divide and conquer by forcing newsrooms to disavow their colleagues one at a time. This is not a good-faith conversation; it’s intimidation.”
Over at Splinter News, Libby Watson went further, arguing that the New York Times shouldn’t have even acknowledged the campaign against their new hire, and that to do so legitimised it.
There is no right way to handle this (yet), but as a society we’ll gradually get better at navigating the line between rightful protest against someone’s past statements, and kowtowing to trolls acting in bad faith. At least employers seem to be starting to spot the difference rather than immediately terminating a contract out of fear of bad press.
And I suspect that more people might start to see the benefit of deleting their old tweets, just in case.
One big read
“I Have a Secret. My Father Is Steve Jobs”: Lisa Brennan-Jobs Recalls Memories of Her Famous Father “I Have a Secret. My Father Is Steve Jobs”: Lisa Brennan-Jobs Recalls Memories of Her Famous Father
Steve Jobs initially refused to acknowledge Lisa Brennan-Jobs as his daughter. Even after that changed, it wasn’t easy having one of tech’s best-known (and crankiest) figures as a father.
One big tweet
Following on from the discussion above, this seems like a good idea. And the ‘ethics’ strand at the last tech conference I attended had by far the most compelling content overall.
Jamie Bartlett
Tech conferences go through waves: last five years have all been AI, machine learning, IoT & blockchain. Here’s a prediction: the next 5 years tech conferences will be all about NON-tech themes: attitudes, regulations, well-being, trust & behaviour. #SogetiSummit
7:51 PM - 2 Aug 2018
That’s all for today...
I’ll be back tomorrow with a weekend format edition, as usual. See you in your inbox…
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