Why is it that toxic propaganda posts are shared so widely? In Antisocial: How Online Extremists Broke America, Andrew Marantz, a journalist with The New Yorker, explores how online fringe ideas spread fake news; how truth becomes “fake news”; and how a candidate who was dismissed as a joke was eventually elected US President by the “dark side of the Internet”.
To write this book, Marantz spent time with alt-right groups and propagandists who are experts in using social media to their advantage, and he learnt how to make content go viral.
“Everyone knows the most basic rule of the internet: Don’t feed the trolls, and don’t take tricksters at their word. The trolls, of the alt-right called themselves provocateurs, or shitposters, or edgelords. And what could be edgier than joking about Hitler?” Marantz writes in the book.
Marantz has written extensively about technology, social media, the alt-right, the press, comedy and pop culture.
Pulitzer-prize winning author Elizabeth Kolbert has praised Mrantz’s latest book, writing: “Antisocial is at once funny and scary, antic and illuminating. It’s a must-read for anyone still struggling to understand the last election or hoping to make sense of the next one.
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In its review, The Guardian calls it an “absorbing and disturbing book” that raises two awkward questions. One is whether digital technology now constitutes an existential threat to liberal democracy. “Second, was the old media ecosystem, with its elitist gatekeepers, editorial control, political bias and other flaws, really worse than what we have acquired? Or, pace Winston Churchill on democracy, was it just the worst system apart from all the others?”
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