November 30, 2016

The New York Times debuted its newest feature yesterday, an opinion column called “This Week in Hate,” which will “track hate crimes and harassment around the country since the election of Donald Trump.” The first installment covers the past two weeks, and includes threatening letters received by mosques across the country, an unruly Delta passenger shouting about Trump’s victory, and swastikas found on cars, schools, and subway trains.

Criticism of Facebook’s role in the spread of hate speech and misinformation has gone global. After a map of Jewish-owned businesses in Berlin was posted to a far-right Facebook group, the German government called on the social media company to impose stricter regulations and more oversight on inflammatory and offensive content. BuzzFeed reports that the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sports is “currently considering the implications of the dissemination of fake news on social media sites,” and that an Italian anti-establishment political party has “built a sprawling network of websites and social media accounts that are spreading fake news, conspiracy theories, and pro-Kremlin stories to millions of people.”

On the same day that a bill expanding the surveillance powers of the British government became law, The Guardian announced that they have moved their website to the more-secure HTTPS format. Although the notice did not specifically mention the new law, another Guardian article noted that the new law will require Internet and phone companies to retain customers’ browsing history for a year and will give government officials and police easier access to that information. In explaining the decision to secure their website, Mariot Chauvin and Huma Islam write, “It means we protect the privacy of our readers when accessing content that may disclose political opinions, faith, sexual orientation or any information that may be used against them. It matches our core values.”

Jessica Lessin, founder and chief executive of The Information, wonders if giving Facebook editorial control over posts is also giving the company the power to decide what constitutes fact. “I simply don’t trust Facebook, or any one company, with the responsibility for determining what is true,” Lessin writes.

Paula Hawkins. Photo: Kate Neil

Paula Hawkins. Photo: Kate Neil

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, will publish her next book with Riverhead. Into the Water will be available next May.

At the New Yorker, Jia Tolentino mines Ivanka Trump’s 2009 self-help book, The Trump Card, for insight into why Trump’s daughter has been an effective surrogate for the president-elect throughout his campaign and how she might affect the perception of his presidency’s conflicts of interest. Tolentino calls Ivanka’s inclusion in recent meetings with heads of state “the definition of corruption,” due to her continued business interests in both her own and her father’s brands. “But as laundered through Ivanka—who’s been tweeting about banana bread and posting photos of her children—it won’t look so bad.”

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