Home Book editor Power struggles on platforms: Joe Rogan, Dan Bongino and banned books spark debate

Power struggles on platforms: Joe Rogan, Dan Bongino and banned books spark debate

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Every day there is another tussle over who is heard, where and how, another power struggle for the platform. “The battle lines over truth and lies don’t just cut across the political sphere,” CNN Opinion editor Rich Galant wrote on Sunday, “they’re dividing people in media, music and sports.”

Depending on your political affiliation and partisan media preferences, you might care more about removing “Maus” from a Tennessee school district or banning Dan Bongino from YouTube. You can support Spotify for keeping Joe Rogan in place or you can side with artists who boycotted the service. Or maybe you don’t care at all, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, some updates on all the “content wars” of the past few days:

Judging by the hasty nature of Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s statement on Sunday afternoon, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and Nils Lofgren weren’t the only artists complaining about the platform’s stance on Covid- 19 BS Or maybe Ek was trying to stop other producers from following Brené Brown’s directing and to make a break his podcast exclusive to Spotify. Or maybe he was trying to stem a wave of customer cancellations. Maybe it was all of the above.
Ek’s ad didn’t mention Rogan at all. But he said Spotify “adds a content notice to any podcast episode that includes discussion of Covid-19,” CNN’s Ramishah Maruf wrote. “The notice will direct listeners to a Covid-19 hub that will include links to trusted sources, the company said. Spotify will also publicly post its long-standing platform rules for the first time.” (Those are the very loose rules that Ashley Carman of The Verge obtained and posted on Friday.) So, in short, Spotify is doing what platforms like Twitter did at the start of the pandemic. Peter Kafka of Recode abstract in three words: “Nothing changes.”
But it has the appearance of change. So will that be enough? We will see. Ek of course appeared as a CEO in damage control mode. He said the Covid hub “will be rolling out to countries around the world in the next few days”, so in other words, it hasn’t even been translated into multiple languages ​​yet. The same goes for the rules of the platform. Spotify seems to do it in a hurry. The Verge EIC Nilay Patel tweeted that the company performs “game manual” content moderation is an impossible challenge “instead of the game manual “we purchased and distribute this multimedia property”. His point: Spotify is “spending $100 million to exclusively distribute” Rogan’s show and promote it across the platform, but presents itself as Facebook rather than a distributor…

Six Spotify Notes

– Kara Swisher tweeted: Tech leads like Ek “want all the power and the money and none of the responsibility when things get risky, like things always get…”
– Kat Rosenfield said on “Reliable Sources” that Rogan is “like a weed that grew outside the mainstream media ecosystem.” If Spotify took it down tomorrow, “it wouldn’t affect its viewership,” she explained. “People would still listen to it and, most importantly, they still wouldn’t trust more mainstream media sources…”
— Renée DiResta tweeted a similar point about the Covid news hubs promoted by Spotify and other sites: “These things add supply of information”, but “they don’t meet the demand, nor the element of entertainment …”
-Kelly Weil observed that “so many political disputes in the United States are just proxy battles through customer service complaints”, meaning that “in a powerless electorate, the only common sense of individual power is as a consumer who *will* leave an unfavorable review on Yelp…”
— How big is this Spotify story? Well, the WSJ homepage has been on top all evening…
Variety: Alternative rock band Belly “want to delete their music from Spotify, but it’s contractually complicated — so the band wrote ‘Delete Spotify’ on their Spotify page…”

The big picture

Olivier Darcy writes: “Consider the fact that we are almost six years away from the 2016 election, when the problem of disinformation has really inevitably surfaced, and some tech companies are still having incredibly difficult problems establishing basic protocols. Much of the reporting of viral lies is simply about asking the companies about their policies and then often why the blatant violations aren’t being enforced…”

“Book banning efforts have spread across the United States”

It’s one of the headlines on the New York Times website on Sunday night. “Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers across the country are challenging the books at a pace not seen in decades,” wrote Elizabeth A. Harris and Alexandra Alter.

Key stat: “The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an ‘unprecedented’ 330 reports of book challenges, each possibly including multiple books, last fall.”

“Conservative groups in particular, fueled by social media, are now pushing challenges,” and “most frequent targets” include books about race, gender and sexuality, though “book challenges don’t come only from the right,” the reporters said. Noted. Fox recently highlighted a Washington state school district’s action against “To Kill a Mockingbird.” However, the network did not mention “Maus”, according to research by TVEyes. CNN and MSNBC cited both books in a recent cover…

“Maus” reaches the number one spot on Amazon

Surely you’ve heard of the school board in McMinn County, Tennessee, which voted to ban the Holocaust-themed graphic novel “Maus” from its classrooms. But did you know that the vote took place on January 10? It only became national news when the vote “was reported by local news outlet, The Tennessee Holler, on Wednesday,” as the NYT noted here.
Since then, copies of “Maus” have become a hit. “Three different editions of the Pulitzer Prize-winning work rank in the top seven books on Amazon Sunday afternoon,” wrote Daniel Politi of Slate. “The Complete Maus, which includes both volumes of the novel, was number one on Amazon’s bestseller list. The first volume of the book was number three on the list, while the second was number seven. “

“They are creating a parallel economy”

That’s what Fox’s Dan Bongino, recently banned from YouTube and Google Ads, argued on his show Saturday night. Some studies have shown that deplatforming “works” insofar as it reduces toxicity on social networks. But the counter-argument, advanced by Bongino, is that the offensive content doesn’t disappear, it just moves.

“You look so much younger now that you’re off YouTube,” joked guest Devin Nunes, CEO of Trump’s social media company. Then he predicted that “millions of Americans” would leave Big Tech for platforms like Trump’s, which has yet to launch. “I think they’re doing this to themselves, these big tech companies,” Bongino said. “They’re creating a shadow economy right under their noses, the same way the news ecosystem bifurcated in the 90s with the rise of Fox News.”

“Complicate the story”

My featured guest on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” was Amanda Ripley, author of “High Conflict,” essential reading on how to defuse existential “us versus them” conflicts. Journalists should stop “simplifying and amplifying”, she said. Do not become “conflict entrepreneurs”. Instead, try to “complicate the narrative.”
For example, highlight the stories of those who are making a positive difference. And show the context of conflict in the news: “How many school boards are imploding in conflict,” out of how many in total? “How many constituencies restrict the right to vote? Watch both clips on CNN.com…