We Worked Together on the Internet. Last Week, He Stormed the Capitol. 

Ben Smith has an article at The New York Times reflecting on his time at previous employer BuzzFeed working with someone who would become one of the January 6th insurrectionists.

He quotes his former BuzzFeed colleague Andrew Gauthier, who recently worked on the Biden campaign:

You always think that evil is going to come from movie villain evil, and then you’re like — oh no, evil can just start with bad jokes and nihilistic behavior that is fueled by positive reinforcement on various platforms.

The reporting on the insurrection has been a lot to digest, but contingency joins the center stage. Design choices made by social media platforms matter because contingency at scale isn’t so unknowable, instead it leads to a certainty of population level outcomes if not any individual’s destiny. Responsibility can be assigned. Fights over platform moderation and algorithms can’t devolve into technical or esoteric legal arguments driven by the platform owners. The consequences are too great.

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