Location: Trinity Long Room Hub

Date: 11 Jul

In 1710, Jonathan Swift claimed that “falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” If so, then concerns surrounding the dangers to democracy posed by social media platforms seem to have less to do with the nature of the media or of the platforms and more to do with the nature of the social.

However, as Nolen Gertz will show, Facebook encourages users to constantly post content in order to be social, and to constantly post content likely to get attention in order to remain social, then Facebook encourages users to share attention-grabbing content. Consequently, Facebook users spread fake news, not because they don’t care about what they are sharing, but because they care about being social, which, thanks to the influence of Facebook, means they care about being seen by the algorithm. If we want to remove fake news from social media platforms then we must begin by understanding how these platforms influence us, how these platforms shape what “truth” means.

Professor Nolen Gertz Bio

Nolen Gertz is Assistant Professor of Applied Philosophy at the University of Twente, a Senior Researcher at the 4TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology, and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Global Center for the Future. He is the author of Nihilism and Technology (Rowman & Littlefield International 2018), The Philosophy of War and Exile (Palgrave-Macmillan 2014), and of the forthcoming book Nihilism (MIT Press 2019). His research interests are in the area of philosophy of technology, social and political philosophy, and pop culture. He received his PhD in 2012 from the New School for Social Research. Nolen’s work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and ABC Australia, and has covered topics ranging from the meaning of military robots to the dangers of Netflix and Chill.