In the past censorship worked by blocking the flow of information. In the twenty-first century censorship works by flooding people with irrelevant information.
The lowest form of popular culture — lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives — has overrun real journalism. Today ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.
Given what we have today, the Internet could easily become Invisible High School, with a modicum of educational material in an ocean of narcissism and social obsessions. We could, however, also use it as an Invisible College, the communicative backbone of real intellectual and civic change.
I like the trail that the Internet created. For example, I was watching one of those Douglas Sirk movies, and I noticed that Rock Hudson towered over everyone, and I typed in, “How tall was,” and I saw “How tall was Jesus,” and I’m like, “Sure,” and half an hour later you’re somewhere you didn’t expect to be. It doesn’t work that same way in books, does it?
Caution: Do not mistake the Internet for an encyclopedia, and the search engine for a table of contents. The Internet is a sprawling databank that’s about one-quarter wheat and three-quarters chaff.
It is hard to tell which is worse: the wide diffusion of things that are not true, or the suppression of things that are true.
Facebook’s goal of showing people only what they were interested in seeing resulted, within a decade, in the effective end of shared civic reality. . . . Today we mostly consume news that corresponds with our ideological alignment, which has been fine-tuned to make us feel self-righteous and also mad.
If the social-media platforms don’t take the gatekeeping seriously, they will kill the public sphere. If we don’t get this right in 2020, you can open a decade or longer of a descent into fascism. And it will be global because platforms are global.
You can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up under them.
The more people are reached by mass communications, the less they communicate with each other.
Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear.
Truth is the greatest of all national possessions. A state, a people, a system which suppresses the truth or fears to publish it deserves to collapse.
One reason that cats are happier than people / is that they have no newspapers.
The American press has always had a tendency to assume that the truth must lie exactly halfway between any two opposing points of view. Thus, if the press presents the man who says Hitler is an ogre and the man who says Hitler is a prince, it believes it has done the full measure of its journalistic duty.
The right to freedom of speech is no license to deceive, and willful misrepresentation is a violation of its principles. It is sophistry to pretend that in a free country a man has some sort of inalienable or constitutional right to deceive his fellow men. There is no more right to deceive than there is a right to swindle, to cheat, or to pick pockets.
I have an old-fashioned belief that Americans like to make up their own minds on the basis of all available information. The conclusions you draw are your own affair. I have no desire to influence them, and shall leave such efforts to those who have more confidence in their own judgment than I have in mine.