Ep. 640: Outraging into the Machine

A recent analysis by NPR comparing engagement-per-post between mainstream and conservative media outlets described ‘outrage’ as a business model. Books like The Outrage Industry and Angrynomics have explored some of the following themes that we can draw on.

Is outrage a genre? What are its attributes? What roles do supply-side and demand-side incentives play? Prateek Waghre joins Rohan Seth to discuss.

NPR article – https://www.npr.org/2021/07/19/1013793067/outrage-as-a-business-model-how-ben-shapiro-is-using-facebook-to-build-an-empire

MisDisMal-Information edition on outrage: https://techpolicy.substack.com/p/outrage-against-the-machine-digital

MisDisMal-Information edition on the anatomy of online conflicts: https://techpolicy.substack.com/p/of-soscial-media-kindness-of-the

Ep. 630: Digital Communication Networks and their Harms

Over the years, a number of harms have been attributed to Social Media platforms/messaging apps. Despite their high adoption over the last decade, estimates suggest that approximately 50% of the world’s population do not use them yet. This implies that there is still significant headroom for adoption and therefore further amplification of the harms (and benefits) attributed.
In this episode, Prateek Waghre joins Rohan Seth to discuss a Takshashila Working Paper that defines Digital Communication Networks (DCNs) and categorizes the harms attributed to them as potential market failures, social problems, and cognitive biases.

Click here to read the paper

Ep. 627: Making sense of feed algorithms

Much of our online activity is mediated by algorithms. Whether we are shopping online, binge-watching TV shows, or scrolling through social media, algorithms watch over us and feed us what we see. Algorithmic content curation has associated accountability and ethical challenges that have no easy answers.

Mihir Mahajan joins Rohan Seth to talk about feed algorithms, how they work, and how technologists, regulators, and individual users can promote healthy information diets.

Links mentioned in the show:

  1. Why we need to audit algorithms (Article)
  2. WSJ video on TikTok’s algorithm

Ep. 621: How Social Media is Reshaping Politics

Over the last 10 years, the optimism surrounding social media platforms has given way to skepticism and concerns about their impact on democracy. In this episode, Nitansha Bansal and Prateek Waghre discuss some of the defining characteristics of social media and digital communication networks, and how they can affect strong or weak, liberal or authoritarian regimes.

Further readings:

Technopolitik #4

The Political Effects of Social Media Platforms on Different Regime Types

MisDisMal-Information Newsletter 

Ep. 601: Can You Unbundle Social Media?

Even as platforms struggle to balance their roles as both reluctant arbiters of truth and protectors of speech, the concentration of power in their hands concerns many scholars. Some proposals aim to strike a balance between competition and free speech by unbundling functions and features on social media platforms. Prateek Waghre and Atish Padhy join Rohan Seth to discuss these proposals and how they might work.
Links mentioned in the episode:

  1. https://techpolicy.substack.com/p/of-unbundling-by-different-names
  2. https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2019/05/platform-content-regulation-–-some-models-and-their-problems
  3. https://knightcolumbia.org/content/protocols-not-platforms-a-technological-approach-to-free-speech
  4. https://www.wired.co.uk/article/social-media-competitive-compatibility
  5. https://cyber.fsi.stanford.edu/publication/report-working-group-platform-scale

Ep. 596: Do Influence Operations Work?

The number of influence operations being discovered on social media platforms continues to rise sharply. As attention turns to the Indian subcontinent, Manoj Kewalramani and Prateek Waghre discuss how their effectiveness is measured and how platforms respond.

How We Are Enslaved

Behavioral Addiction is ubiquitous, and most of us can’t do without the dopamine rushes that come from social media, shopping, gambling, and even exercise. Adam Alter’s book Irresistible explains the extent and the mechanics of our addictions.

Empowerment and Fragility

Zeynep Tufecki’s book, Twitter and Tear Gas, is an insightful analysis of the impact of social media on protests and social movements in today’s radically networked societies.


In his new book, Cass Sunstein argues that the perfect filtering that platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide is a serious challenge to democratic deliberation and free expression.