Andrew Marantz on How the Far Right Took Over the Internet - 2019-10-17
What happened to the internet over the past decade? As online activity became centered on just a handful of websites, opportunistic extremists, hucksters, and misanthropes took advantage of lax oversight to move once-unthinkable ideas into the mainstream. At the same time, the platforms who turned a blind eye are still hesitant to cop to their own role in the rise of the alt-right and the resurgence of internet Nazis (who turned out to be real Nazis). Some of the most prominent examples of the online right are chronicled in Andrew Marantz's new book Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation. He spoke to Intelligencer earlier this week about his reporting process, and the current state of online discourse.
On a broad level, how do you approach interviewing the bad characters in this book?
Very, very carefully. I do not at all take lightly the ethical concerns that are intrinsic in broaching or not broaching the subject matter that I'm interested in. I see a lot of glib dismissals of these questions. I see a lot of journalists say, "Well, as long as you write the truth your hands are clean." And first of all, that raises all kinds of thorny questions about "the truth," and also it's not always the case that if don't have any factual errors in your piece that means that you're ethically in the clear, or even journalistically in the clear.