It’s not just Facebook. The Internet has failed as a public forum.
When in doubt, blame the robots. As Facebook has fallen from grace and struggled to reconcile its role in spreading propaganda and stoking political anger, the company has proposed a familiar solution:
If the algorithm has failed, let’s just build a better algorithm.
I was frustrated by newspapers’ glacial transition to the web. Now I wish we could turn back the clock.
Itwas the summer of 2005, and I was a new college grad filled with anticipation and glee as I packed for the long trip from my childhood hometown to my brilliant, prosperous, tech-savvy future.
I’d been recruited for an internship at one of the nation’s Top 20 papers, thanks in large part to a line on my resume that touted my web development skills, which had started as a hobby and grown into a series of freelance gigs in high school and college. The newspaper industry was in an uproar because of the emergence of aggressive, low-overhead, web-based competitors, and the old guard of journalism was eager for anyone who could help. My web skill set allowed me to leapfrog my peers to bigger, better job opportunities, and I was eager to join the Internet revolution.
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And so goes the frustrating, backward logic of the journalism paywall. It’s the most popular income idea to arise since the newspaper industry was flooded with low-budget competitors, and it seems like the last best hope for profits as Google and Facebook strangle independent advertising sales.
It’s also a fundamentally flawed business model that goes against the best interests of journalists and their readers, and for the most part, it’s doomed to fail.