A 13-year-old boy is wrongly accused of sexual harassment, then railroaded by zealous school administrators. Abused by the system and shunned by real-life friends, he finds new ones—on Reddit and 4chan. What Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right.
Those online pals were happy to explain that all girls lie—especially about rape. And they had lots more knowledge to impart. They told Sam that Islam is an inherently violent religion and that Jews run global financial networks. (We’re Jewish and don’t know anyone who runs anything, but I guess the evidence was convincing.) They insisted that the wage gap is a fallacy, that feminazis are destroying families, that people need guns to protect themselves from government incursions onto private property. They declared that women who abort their babies should be jailed.
Sam prides himself on questioning conventional wisdom and subjecting claims to intellectual scrutiny. For kids today, that means Googling stuff. One might think these searches would turn up a variety of perspectives, including at least a few compelling counterarguments. One would be wrong.
Dealing with malicious do-gooder school officials is difficult, not least because some see that fight as an opportunity to dismantle public education or to shield young men from consequences.
Tech companies, though, everyone can see those guys coming.
The term "complicity" lets them off the hook, but "conspiracy" and "collusion" are too freighted with nearby political goings-on. I think the best term for what Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook do is the plain non-legal sense of connivance: a passive consent to wrongdoing and crisis, a covert willingness to permit behavior they publicly disclaim, and a language of justification to go with it, all in pursuit of outcomes that benefit them.