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Tyler Cowen

Facebook's Harm Is Taking Life Out of Context

What once seemed like a social problem is becoming a civic one as well.
Facebook can't touch you back.

Facebook can't touch you back.

Photographer: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

Last week was rough for Facebook Inc. Further information came out that Russian agents had used the service to organize rallies in support of U.S. President Donald Trump and to buy pro-Trump ads. A ProPublica investigation showed it is possible to search for “Jew haters” and target them with ads for Nazi memorabilia.

These incidents no longer seem like accidents, but what’s the right framework for thinking about the underlying failings of Facebook? I have a nomination: For all the wonders of contemporary technology, it is not so good at producing social context.