Remember when we all thought the internet would miraculously make the world better? That was then, and now we know the truth: bad people still do bad things. They just do it on the internet.
The ad-driven dynamic of commercial social media makes it profitable to drive outrage. Thoughtful and fact-based dialog is the first casualty.
Furthermore, automation has made it profitable to give each user a view of the world that maximizes involvement, without any sense of proportion or reality. The baseless Q fantasies are a case in point.
The Q delusions exploit defects in human information processing. At a more general level, our social media giants exploit the same defects to sell ads, without giving us the social contact we crave, especially in a pandemic.
Underneath the neighborly and family content are social network algorithms designed to drive users to more extreme content. Facebook in particular has repeatedly