Annotate these 2 articles and also write a Rhetorical Precis for each. There is an example down below on how you should annotate.- Main Claim (in yellow on the attached) – Subclaims (in green on the attached)- Key Evidence (in gray on the attached) – Rhetorical Strategies
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Social networks are creating a global crisis of democracy
Social networks are creating a
global crisis of democracy
Silicon Valley once promised its digital revolution would topple dictators
but now it’s disrupting the free world instead. Niall Ferguson asks: What
have we done?
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In 2016, Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley titans saw their creations help Donald Trump win the White House. Now those
companies are frantically hitting the escape key and the worlds democracies are waking up to the threats of social networks, Niall
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JANUARY 19, 2018
UPDATED JANUARY 20, 2018
Niall Fergusons new book, The
4/1/18, 10E02 PM
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Square and the Tower:
sc!” It’s the key on the top left of the keyboard
Networks and Power from the
that you hit frantically when your laptop
Freemasons to Facebook, is
published this month by
crashes. Confronted by the ghastly reality that some
of their proudest creations Google, Facebook and
Twitter helped propel Donald Trump into the
White House, the tech titans of Silicon Valley are
hitting esc like panic-stricken sophomores whose term papers have frozen before
they clicked on the “save” icon.
“Content moderators” are being hired by the thousand. Fake accounts are being
closed. The News Feed is being “fixed.” Esc, esc, esc. But that page is still frozen. And
it will take more than esc to fix this. More like ctrl+alt+del.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. For a time, it seemed as if the internet was on
democracy’s side, helping the crowds in Cairo’s Tahrir Square or Kiev’s Maidan
topple terrible tyrants.
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“Current network technology truly favours the citizens,” wrote Google’s Jared
Cohen and Eric Schmidt in their 2013 book The New Digital Age. “Never before have
so many people been connected through an instantly responsive network,” with
truly “game-changing” implications for politics everywhere.
Mr. Cohen and Mr. Schmidt’s 2010 article “The Digital Disruption” presciently
argued that authoritarian governments would “be caught off-guard when large
numbers of their citizens, armed with virtually nothing but cellphones, take part in
mini-rebellions that challenge their authority.”
The “real action” in what they called “the interconnected estate” could be found in
“cramped offices in Cairo” as well as “on the streets of Tehran. From these locations
and others, activists and technology geeks are rallying political ‘flash mobs’ that
shake repressive governments, building new tools to skirt firewalls and censors,
reporting and tweeting the new online journalism, and writing a bill of human
rights for the internet age.”
Even more euphoric was Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of
Facebook. In 2015, he called the internet “a force for peace in the world.”
Connecting people on Facebook was building a “common global community” with
a “shared understanding” of the problems confronting humanity.
Oh, happy days. Oh, glad, confident morning. Sadly, over the past two years, it has
gradually become apparent that internet may pose a bigger threat to democracies
than to dictators.
For one thing, the growth of network platforms with unprecedented data-gathering
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capabilities has created new
opportunities for authoritarian regimes,
not least in China and Russia, to control
their own populations more effectively.
For another, the networks themselves
offer ways in which bad actors and
not only the Russian government can
undermine democracy by
A Facebook logo looms behind Mark Zuckerberg
disseminating fake news and extreme
at the companys headquarters in Menlo Park,
views. “These social platforms are all
invented by very liberal people on the
MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS
west and east coasts,” said Brad
Parscale, Mr. Trump’s digital-media
director, in an interview last year. “And we figure out how to use it to push
conservative values. I don’t think they thought that would ever happen.” Too right.
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Having initially dismissed as “a pretty crazy idea” the notion that fake news on
Facebook had helped Mr. Trump to victory, Mr. Zuckerberg last year came clean:
Russians using false identities had paid for 3,000 Facebook advertisements that
sent implicitly pro-Trump messages to Americans before and after the election. By
some estimates, between 146 and 150 million users more people than voted had
seen posts from accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a pro-Kremlin
organization, including around 16 million users of Instagram, which
One analysis of six Russia-linked Facebook pages found their posts had been shared
340 million times. And those were just six of 470 pages that Facebook had
identified as Russian. Trolls with false identities had also used Facebook Events (the
company’s event-management tool) to promote political protests in the United
States, including an Aug. 27, 2016, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in a rural
Idaho town known to welcome refugees.
In May, 2016, two Russian-linked Facebook groups had organized simultaneous
opposing protests in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston. “Heart of
Texas,” a bogus group claiming to favour Texas secession, had announced a noon
rally on May 21 to “Stop Islamification of Texas.” Meanwhile, a separate Russiansponsored group, “United Muslims of America,” had advertised a “Save Islamic
Knowledge” rally for exactly the same place and time. This wasn’t the kind of
global community Mr. Zuckerberg had envisaged.
This is not just an American story. To an extent that is not well enough
appreciated, it is a global crisis of democracy. Similar efforts were made, albeit on a
smaller scale, to influence the outcome of the British referendum on European
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Union membership mainly via fake
Twitter accounts as well as last year’s
elections in the Netherlands, France and
Germany. And the fact that the Russian
meddling in the 2016 U.S. election has
since become the focal point of
multiple inquiries in Washington
which may even pose a threat to the
legitimacy and longevity of Mr.
Trump’s presidency does not mean
that similar things are not going on in
other countries even as you read this
article. Canadians have good reason to
worry about how social media could
impact the 2019 federal election. When
Facebook and Twitter told MPs last
year that they could increase public
engagement in the debates between
party leaders, some people wondered
how much of this would be provided by
Yet the most alarming revelation of the
past year is not the importance of
Russian fake news, but its
After the 2016 election, Facebook unearthed
unimportance. Former president Barack
examples of a Russian misinformation campaign
Obama implicitly acknowledged that in
whose posts were shared millions of times on the
social network. Here are two examples
his recent Netflix interview with David
presented as evidence to Congress last year.
Letterman. Having swept into the White
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PERMANENT SELECT
House in 2008 as the first candidate of
COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE
the social media age, Obama
acknowledged that he had “missed
the degree to which people who are in power, special interests, foreign
governments, et cetera, can in fact manipulate [social media] and propagandize.”
However, the former law professor made no attempt to lay all the blame on outside
forces. “What the Russians exploited,” he said, “was already here [The fact that]
we are operating in completely different information universes. If you watch Fox
News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you listen to NPR. That’s
what’s happening with these Facebook pages, where more and more people are
getting their news from. At a certain point, you just live in a bubble. And that’s part
of why our politics is so polarized right now.”
What happened in 2016 was much more than just a Kremlin “black op” that
exceeded expectations. It was a direct result of the profound change in the public
sphere brought about by the advent and spectacular growth of the online network
platforms. In many ways, the obsessive focus of the American political class on the
Russian sub-plot is a distraction from the alarming reality that as the European
competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager argued earlier this month the big
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tech companies, and the way their services are used by ordinary people, pose a
much bigger threat to democracy. It is the threat from within we really need to
worry about not the threat from Putin.
Top apps by share of all smartphone touches
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: DSCOUT
A POLARIZATION PROBLEM
e are nearly all addicts. The website eMarketer estimates that adult
Facebook users in the United States spent roughly 41 minutes a day on the
platform in 2017. And that’s just our favourite app. The average smartphone user
clicks, taps and swipes that insidious little device an amazing 2,617 times a day.
And we don’t just passively read. We engage. We like. We retweet. We reply. We
comment. Now, it must be admitted that most of what we write is inane. In Canada,
the five most-commonly used words in Facebook status updates are: “day,”
“hangover,” “loud,” “ticket” and “word.” (“Hangover” is ranked 7th in Britain and
8th in the United States make of that what you will.)
But a fair amount of what we engage with online is news. Two-thirds of U.S. adults
are on Facebook. Nearly half 45 per cent get news from Mr. Zuckerberg’s
platform. More than one in 10 Americans get news from YouTube, while roughly
the same proportion (11 per cent) get news from Twitter. In Canada, 51 per cent of
people get their news from digital sources first.
Use and news consumption among U.S. adults, by source
Get news on site
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THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:PEW RESEARCH CENTER STUDY, 2017
As a recent Harvard paper co-authored by Gary King demonstrates, the network
platforms essentially amplify news from established news outlets. As they do so,
however, a strange thing happens. Whether one looks at blogs or at Twitter, social
media tend to promote polarization. Liberal bloggers link to liberal bloggers, rarely
to conservative ones. Liberal Twitter users re-tweet one another, seldom their
conservative counterparts. And tweets on political topics gun control, same-sex
marriage, climate change are 20 per cent more likely to be retweeted for every
moral or emotional word they employ.
Note also that political Twitter is not for everyone. As Daniel Hopkins, Ye Liu,
Daniel Preotiuc-Pietro and Lyle Ungar have shown, by analyzing nearly five million
tweets generated by four thousand Twitter accounts in August, 2016, it is “very
conservative” and “very liberal” users who are most likely to tweet political words.
Word use on Twitter by political figures and users by political type
% of total words used
Conservative political figures
Very conservative users
Liberal political figures
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE:BEYOND BINARY LABELS: POLITICAL IDEOLOGY PREDICTION OF TWITTER
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We see a similar phenomenon when we analyze the Facebook followers of U.S.
legislators. In both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the pattern is clear:
The more ideologically out there you are whether to the left or the right the
more followers you are likely to have.
In this context, it becomes apparent that Russian fake news represented a drop in
an ocean of inflammatory political commentary that was overwhelmingly
indigenous. Between March, 2015, and November, 2016, 128 million Americans
created nearly 10 billion Facebook posts, shares, likes and comments about the
election. Remember how many Russian ads there were? That’s right: a paltry 3,000.
According to new research by Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, Andrew Guess
of Princeton University and Jason Reifler of the University of Exeter, roughly one in
four Americans saw at least one false story in the run-up to the presidential
election. But fake stories were just 1 per cent of the news Hillary Clinton supporters
read, and 6 per cent of the news Trump supporters read.
Remember, too, that not all the Russian-sourced news was fake. The tens of
thousands of e-mails hacked from the accounts of John Podesta and other
Democrats were as real as they were confidential. But it wasn’t the Russians who
were driving the traffic on the Breitbart website to record highs. It wasn’t the
Russians who explained to the Trump campaign how they could use targeted
Facebook advertising to compensate with precision for what they lacked in
dollars. It was Silicon Valley: its big data, its algorithms, its employees.
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PHOTO ILLUSTRATION/THE GLOBE AND MAIL
A MATTER OF PRIORITIES
on’t take it from me. Take it from former Facebook staff who have spoken out
in the past year. Antonio Garcia Martinez, the former Facebook engineer and
author of the book Chaos Monkeys, put it starkly: “I think there’s a real question if
democracy can survive Facebook and all the other Facebook-like platforms,” he
said in an interview. “Before platforms like Facebook, the argument used to be that
you had a right to your own opinion. Now, it’s more like the right to your
Facebook’s propaganda was all about building a global community. But in practice,
the company was laser-focused on the bottom line and highly resistant to outside
criticism. Sandy Parakilas, who worked as an operations manager to fix privacy
problems on Facebook’s developer platform in advance of its 2012 initial public
offering, has said that the company “prioritized data collection from its users over
protecting them from abuse.”
“When I was at Facebook,” he said last year, “the typical reaction I recall looked like
this: Try to put any negative press coverage to bed as quickly as possible, with no
sincere efforts to put safeguards in place or to identify and stop abusive
developers.” The policy was to “react only when the press or regulators make
something an issue, and avoid any changes that would hurt the business of
collecting and selling data.”
Perhaps the most scathing assessment came from former vice-president for user
growth, Chamath Palihapitiya. “I think,” he told an audience of students at
Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in December, “we have created tools that
are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. The short-term,
dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society
works. No civil discourse, no co-operation: misinformation, mistrust. And it’s not an
American problem this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”
Fmr. Facebook Exec: Social Media Ripping Apart Society, You
Chamath Palihapitiya speaks out about social medias harmful effects on society
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Mr. Palihapitiya said he felt “tremendous guilt” about his own part in this because
he believed he and his former colleagues “kind of knew something bad would
happen.” He is not alone in feeling guilty. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker,
has talked in similar terms. Another early employee told Vanity Fair, “Most of the
early employees I know are totally overwhelmed by what this thing has become.
They look at the role Facebook now plays in society and they have this sort of
‘Oh my God, what have I done’ moment.”
True, in recent months Facebook has scrambled to respond to all this recrimination.
On Sept. 21, for example, Mr. Zuckerberg pledged to work “pro-actively to
strengthen the democratic process.” Facebook would require that all political ads
disclose which page paid for them and ensure that each ad is accessible to everyone.
Later last year, he announced plans to clamp down on “bad content and bad actors”
by doubling the number of employees and contractors who handle safety and
security issues to 20,000 by the end of 2018. And just last week, he announced an
overhaul of the News Feed to prioritize “meaningful interaction” between users
over the kind of media-generated content that advertisers like.
But if you think this kind of self-regulation is going to fix democracy’s social-media
problem, then I have a bridge to sell you. For one thing, it would take at least an
order of magnitude more people to achieve meaningful monitoring of the vast
amount of content that Facebook’s two billion-plus users produce and share every
day. For another, none of this alters the company’s fundamental business model,
which is to sell advertisers the precision targeting that Facebook’s user data allows.
Political advertising may henceforth be identified as such, in the way that it is on
television. But just how much less effective will that make it?
Google says it will curate its “News” search results more carefully, to rank
established newspaper sites above bulletin boards such as 4chan or Reddit, which
are favourite channels for alt-right content. Anyone who thinks that will stop
people reading fake news hasn’t found the “scroll down” button on their keyboard.
The most followed world leaders on Twitter, 2017
THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: TWIPLOMACY 2017
A NEW KIND OF POLITICS
he reality is, no matter how Facebook, Google and Twitter tweak their
algorithms, a new kind of politics has been born. It can no more be unborn
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than the new kind of politics born when television revealed how much betterlooking John F. Kennedy was than sweaty Richard Nixon, with his five o’clock
shadow. Or how easily Lyndon Johnson could make Barry Goldwater seem like a
man who wanted to drop atomic bombs on little children.
There are now two kinds of politicians in this world: the kind that know how to use
social media as a campaign tool and the ones w …
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