Three tweets on the failure of knowledge

August 2020

Facts and Bots

There was a tweet the other day. The author, New York Times tech writer Sarah Jeong, reacted with her message to the fascist iconography and instances of state-mandated violence against people and protestors that occurred in early June 2020 in response to the police murder of George Floyd. Playing on the internet genre of ‘hot takes,’ there was something of a heightened reality effect about this tweet: Twitter’s newly introduced service for better informational politics on the platform applied its ‘fact-checking’ label to the message: “(!) Get the facts about fascism,” the bot attached to Jeong’s tweet. Offering clickable “facts,” it followed the same algorithmic pattern that had enraged Donald Trump in the previous days and led him to propose legislation against Twitter’s fact-checking practice.