Sign up today for an exclusive discount along with our 30-day GUARANTEE — Love us or leave, with your money back! Click here to become a part of our growing community and learn how to stop gambling with your investments. We will teach you to BE THE HOUSE — Not the Gambler!

Click here to see some testimonials from our members!

Why Twitter, Facebook and Google Are the Antisocial Networks

 

Why Twitter, Facebook and Google Are the Antisocial Networks

Courtesy of John Mauldin, Outside the Box

In today’s Outside the Box we resume our eight-part Strategic Investment Conference Speaker Series with my friend Niall Ferguson, senior fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford and the Center for European Studies at Harvard. Niall has a cautionary tale for us on the topic of social networks.

The problem, in a nutshell:

Facebook certainly made an impact last year, but not quite the impact the young Zuckerberg had in mind in his Harvard dorm. A committed believer in globalisation who tends to wear his liberal politics on his T-shirt sleeve, Zuckerberg is reeling. Not only did the masterminds behind the Brexit and Trump campaigns successfully use Facebook advertising to hone and target their ultimately victorious campaign messages; worse, the Russian government appears to have used Facebook in the same way, seeking to depress voter support for Hillary Clinton. Worse still, neo-Nazis seem to have been using the social network to spread their own distinctive brand of hate.

Niall – ever the history prof – can’t help chiding Mr. Zuckerberg on his choice of majors at Harvard:

Yet the architects of the biggest social networks to have existed should not have been surprised. If he had studied history at Harvard rather than psychology and computer science, Zuckerberg might have foreseen the ways in which Facebook and its ilk would be used and abused.

And then Niall treats us to a wonderful historical excursion that commences in 16th-century Germany, when that powerful predecessor of social media, the printing press, took viral the message of a notorious thorn in the side of the Catholic Church. With unexpected consequences.

Today, Niall notes, “our networking revolution is much faster and more geographically extensive than the wave of revolutions unleashed by the German printing press.” And the social, political, and geopolitical consquences pile up more quickly and powerfully, too.

[...]

Your feeling optimistic today analyst,

John Mauldin

Why Twitter, Facebook and Google Are the Antisocial Networks

By Niall Ferguson
Originally published in The Sunday Times, October 1, 2017

Just as Martin Luther’s utopian vision and the invention of the printing press led to an era of religious war and turmoil, the internet, hailed as a portal to a better world, is threatening democracy.

The hyperconnected world was not supposed to be like this. In May, Evan Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, told The New York Times: “I thought once everybody could speak freely and exchange information and ideas, the world is automatically going to be a better place. I was wrong about that.”

In September Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, acknowledged that the company’s online tools had allowed advertisers to target self-described “Jew haters”. “We never intended or anticipated this functionality being used this way,” she admitted, “and that is on us.”

Surprise! The men and women who built the internet-based social networks that have so transformed our lives thought everything would be awesome if only we could all be connected. Speaking at Harvard’s degree ceremony in May, Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, looked back on his undergraduate ambition to “connect the whole world”. “This idea was so clear to us,” he recalled, “that all people want to connect . . . My hope was never to build a company, but to make an impact.”

Facebook certainly made an impact last year, but not quite the impact the young Zuckerberg had in mind in his Harvard dorm. A committed believer in globalisation who tends to wear his liberal politics on his T-shirt sleeve, Zuckerberg is reeling. Not only did the masterminds behind the Brexit and Trump campaigns successfully use Facebook advertising to hone and target their ultimately victorious campaign messages; worse, the Russian government appears to have used Facebook in the same way, seeking to depress voter support for Hillary Clinton. Worse still, neo-Nazis seem to have been using the social network to spread their own distinctive brand of hate.

Yet the architects of the biggest social networks to have existed should not have been surprised. If he had studied history at Harvard rather than psychology and computer science, Zuckerberg might have foreseen the ways in which Facebook and its ilk would be used and abused.

Five hundred years ago this year, Martin Luther sent his critique of corrupt church practices as a letter to the Archbishop of Mainz. It is not wholly clear if Luther also nailed a copy to the door of All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg, but it scarcely matters. Thanks to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, that mode of publishing had been superseded.

Before 1517 was out, versions of Luther’s original Latin text had been printed in Basel, Leipzig and Nuremberg. By the time Luther was officially condemned as a heretic by the Edict of Worms in 1521, his writings were all over German-speaking Europe. In the course of the 16th century, German printers produced almost 5,000 editions of Luther’s works.

Luther’s vision was utopian. Just as Zuckerberg today dreams of creating a single “global community”, so Luther believed that his Reformation would produce a “priesthood of all believers”, all reading the Bible, all in a direct relationship to the one, true God.

It didn’t turn out that way. The Reformation unleashed a wave of religious revolt against the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. As it spread from reform-minded clergymen and scholars to urban elites to illiterate peasants, it threw first Germany and then all of northwestern Europe into turmoil.

In 1524 a full-blown peasants’ revolt broke out. By 1531 there were enough Protestant princes to form an alliance (the Schmalkaldic League) against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Although defeated, the Protestants were powerful enough to preserve the Reformation in a patchwork of territories.

Religious conflict erupted again in the Thirty Years’ War, a conflict that turned central Europe into a charnel house. Especially in northwestern Europe – in England, Scotland and the Dutch Republic – it proved impossible to re-establish Roman Catholicism, even when Rome turned the technologies and networking strategy of the Reformation against it, in addition to the more traditional array of cruel tortures and punishments that had long been the church’s forte.

Continue here > 

© Niall Ferguson 2017

Extracted from The Square and the Tower: Networks, Hierarchies and the Struggle for Global Power by Niall Ferguson

[Get John Mauldin's Over My Shoulder: "Must See" Research Directly from John Mauldin to You.]

The Hanging by Jacques Callot.jpg
By Jacques Callotartgallery.nsw.gov.au, Public Domain, Link


Do you know someone who would benefit from this information? We can send your friend a strictly confidential, one-time email telling them about this information. Your privacy and your friend's privacy is your business... no spam! Click here and tell a friend!





You must be logged in to make a comment.
You can sign up for a membership or get a FREE Daily News membership or log in

Sign up today for an exclusive discount along with our 30-day GUARANTEE — Love us or leave, with your money back! Click here to become a part of our growing community and learn how to stop gambling with your investments. We will teach you to BE THE HOUSE — Not the Gambler!

Click here to see some testimonials from our members!