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Infowars (good and bad)

Information is on every front line in this crisis: in health management, in overcoming isolation, and in the most unnecessary battle of them all – disinformation.

Seamus Byrne
Seamus Byrne
5 min read
Infowars (good and bad)

I think politicians are abusing the term ‘war’ to make themselves out to be wartime leaders to grandstand a little too much. But the idea that there is a war of information is real.

Information is on every front line in this crisis: in health management, in overcoming isolation, and in the most unnecessary battle of them all – disinformation.

Health: information is knowing who has the virus through as much testing as possible. Making the invisible visible, tracing its path, closing down the right places, isolating the right people, stopping it in its tracks.

Isolation: Our ability to communicate is critical to staying connected and social when we’re physically apart. This is well discussed, but we’re seeing more of the infrastructure tested and improved to ensure services are accessible when we need them most. There’s still way too big a digital divide on this front that is yet to be addressed, sadly.

Disinfo: If someone asked me two weeks ago if I’d bet there’d be a 5G x coronavirus crossover conspiracy out there, I’d have chuckled… then sighed… then shrugged and figured they were probably right.

As with so many aspects of poor management of the digital town square, crackpots have been left loose under ‘free speech’ ideals for too long.

Free speech as a right? Yes.

Free access to large scale platforms to distribute lies? No.

Like so many things as we travel through this tunnel, we can only hope the other side looks a little different to what we already knew was a problem but were not quite addressing properly. We have to hope we emerge from our cocoons looking different – a betterment, not a devolution. And to come together again as a better community, we need to ensure the tools we use to connect online are no longer abused by those who want to keep us apart.

There’s so much to pick at under the scab of disinformation right now but it’s too much. Don’t let fear drive you. Show as much empathy as you can if you do engage with the conspiracies. But maybe, if you feel the need to directly fight back against the stupid, do it with compassion and clarity. Help close the canyon that has divided us for too long.

I’m still largely off Facebook. It’s still been great. When I’m there and I do see a post or two, I only engage with the positive. Maybe that’ll make my bubble’s algorithm promote positivity more often.

I would have had this newsletter earlier today, but we discovered Taika Waititi was live on Instagram doing a commentary for Thor: Ragnarok, which turned into him hanging out with Tessa Thompson and then Mark Ruffalo just chatting about life and lockdown and making movies and fun times they’ve had together.

It was the kind of moment that was blissful and distracting and I just decided to be there, in the moment, enjoying something rather than rushing off to do more work.

When you find some bliss right now, enjoy it while it’s there.

Don’t let the ‘routine’ ruin capturing the chance to smile in the face of it all.

I think I’ll remember that slower morning fondly when this is all over. No offence, but I won’t regret sending this newsletter an hour later than originally planned.

Today’s links feel like there’s a lot of ‘phase two’ activity out there, for good and for bad. Information warfare of many stripes. The ongoing digital war (more hot than cold) between nation states, efforts to bolster infrastructure, and moves to fix what’s broken.

Plus a bunch of positive things to engage with out there online to make this moment a little nicer to live through.

Good luck. Stay safe. Stay sane.

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Facebook launches Quiet Mode for muting alerts and scheduling downtime

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Football Manager 2020 gives free in-game advertising space to mental health charity during lockdown

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Seamus Byrne Twitter

Founder and Head of Content at Byteside.

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