Probing the Ministry of Truth

In the book “1984” (published in 1949), George Orwell envisioned a Big Brother that would control the media and dictate what was “truth”. But Orwell didn’t predict that “telescreens” would fit in our pockets or that we would willingly carry them with us 24/7, even to the bathroom. He also didn’t foresee that we would willingly subscribe to sources of mis- and disinformation in the form of social media. Today I speak with the co-author of the book “Ministry of Truth”, Vincent Hendricks, about the current state of social media and its influence on democracy and society.

Vincent F. Hendricks, author of THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH: BigTech’s Influence On Facts, Feelings And Fictions, is Professor of Formal Philosophy at the University of Copenhagen. He is the Director of the Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS) funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

Interview Notes

Further Info

Table of Contents

Use these timestamps to jump to a particular section of the show.

  • 0:02:23: Pre-inteview notes
  • 0:03:51: Why did you write this book?
  • 0:06:06: What is the current state of social media content moderation?
  • 0:10:41: How equally are moderation rules applied to all users?
  • 0:12:44: Do algorithms just feed our desire for stuff that’s not good for us?
  • 0:16:39: Are things really worse today or just different?
  • 0:21:21: Do private companies have a moral duty to support a “public square”?
  • 0:26:23: Are social media companies warping the public discourse?
  • 0:28:58: Is TikTok really more of a threat than Facebook or Twitter?
  • 0:31:15: Are any of the proposed TikTok solutions viable?
  • 0:35:41: Why can’t the US Congress pass a real privacy law?
  • 0:38:00: Can we fix some key social media ills by adding some friction?
  • 0:41:10: How will AI systems like ChatGPT impact disinformation?
  • 0:44:15: Can AI also have positive impacts on social media?
  • 0:48:10: How are social media platforms like casinos?
  • 0:50:28: How are social media platforms like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth?
  • 0:51:34: How much responsibility do we have here?
  • 0:57:42: What tips do you have for using social media today?
  • 1:02:59: Interview wrap-up
  • 1:03:28: Privacy and security book club
  • 1:04:37: Patron perks
  • 1:05:02: Preview of upcoming shows