Reddit’s RoastMe Forum Is the Anti-Instagram

Though it might seem to be just another place for angry trolls to encounter potential victims, RoastMe is something a bit stranger. Within thehall of mirrors that polite society creates and that most social media amplifies, the subreddit provides a safe space in which one might receive a response to that ur-question: What do people really think of me? Posters’ continued demands to hear the truth about themselves (a sampling: 'Don’t hold back'; 'Do your worst'; 'Please be brutal'; 'Make me cry'; 'Roast me on a skewer like a burnt turkey') suggest a desire to draft a different kind of contract for online relationships. In this new scenario, you might get hurt, but at least you’ll get some clarifying honesty.

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A History of the Influencer, from Shakespeare to Instagram

Influence works best when it’s wielded obscurely, in the shadows and behind thescenes, and this has clear social consequences for a society engaged in building a digital-influence economy. Based on the available evidence, it seems that we can’t construct an influence economy without stoking a culture of skepticism and paranoia.The fear of being influenced affects our sense of reality and our ability to trust our own judgments about what is true.

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The existential crisis plaguing online extremism researchers

Other approaches, like media literacy programs, may be ineffective, and place too much responsibility on users. Both sets of tactics ignore messier, less quantifiable parts of the problem, like the polarized digital economy where success is predicated on attracting the most eyeballs, how rejecting 'mainstream' truths has become a form of social identity, or the challenges of determining the impact of disinformation. 'It's not that one of our systems is broken; it's not even that all of our systems are broken,' says Phillips. 'It's that all of our systems are working ... toward thespread of polluted information and theundermining of democratic participation.'

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