How Recommendation Algorithms Run the World

This March, a book that advances an outlandish conspiracy theory—a theory whose name I will not mention—soared in Amazon's sales rankings. The book's rise was helped greatly when the ecommerce giant put the book on its carousel of recommended titles, which is shown to shoppers who aren't searching for that particular book. That fueled more curiosity and sales. Which led to more recommendations. The particular conspiracy theory outlined in this book holds that President Donald Trump pretended to collude with Russia precisely to ensure that he would be investigated, which would give him a chance to secretly collaborate with special prosecutor Robert Mueller to investigate and finally arrest former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who belongs to a global satanic cult …

Twitter Users Are Richer and More Woke Than the Rest of Us

It's a feeling familiar to anyone who lives an extremely online life. You spend all day on Twitter watching Howard Schultz get roasted and ratioed or retweeting all of the best definitions of the word "covfefe." Then you log off and enter the real world—the one where your spouse, your friends, your parents, and all the other people in your life who don't spend their days obsessively checking their mentions have precisely no idea what you're talking about, let alone why they should care. Most of us know intuitively that Twitter is not an accurate reflection of the world we live in. It's more of a fun house mirror, distorting and exaggerating its subjects to sometimes funny, sometimes frightening effect. …