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The internet has become a "low-trust society"

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Writing in Wired, Zeynep Tufekci (previously) discusses how the internet has become a "low-trust society," where fake reviews, fraud, conspiracies and disinformation campaigns have burdened us all with the need to investigate every claim and doubt every promise, at enormous costs to time and opportunity. Low-trust societies aren't fun places to live. As Tufekci writes, "You expect to be cheated, often without recourse. You expect things not to be what they seem and for promises to be broken, and you don’t expect a reasonable and transparent process for recourse. It’s harder for markets to function and economies to develop in low-trust societies. It’s harder to find or extend credit, and it’s risky to pay in advance." I think Tufekci is right here, and moreover, I think that the low-trust society of the internet is a reflection of a reduction in the amount of trust in our society at large. On the one hand, you have decades of treating poor people as presumptive criminals, now codified in a set of automated systems that produce a "digital poorhouse," that punishes truthfulness and requires everyone in the system to lie to fit the algorithm's expectations. On the other hand, you have the stacking of regulatory position with henhouse foxes, business leaders who are drafted in to regulate their former colleagues (something that Trump accelerated, but which reflects a bipartisan consensus). Meanwhile, inequality creates rampant corruption and even when the rich and powerful are caught red-handed, they walk away without any consequences. Read the rest

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