Social Media's Weird Future

On today’s show, hosts April Glaser and Will Oremus discuss news that PG&E, California’s main power provider, plans to file for bankruptcy due to the billions in liability it faces stemming from the deadly wildfires last year. Allegations have been made that PG&E’s power lines and equipment aided in the fires and the company did not adequately address the hazards beforehand. As the home to some of the world most powerful tech companies, California’s economy last year surpassed the UK, but it’s clear that this wealth has not trickled down to help Californian suffering the effects of prolonged drought and longer fire seasons hitting more populated areas.
They’ll also talk about a letter sent this week to Microsoft, Amazon and Google from more than 85 civil rights and racial justice groups, including the ACLU. The letter demands that these companies stop building face recognition technology that could be used by the government. We’ve seen employees of these companies voice their concern, but what might we expect from outside pressure?
The hosts touch on one of the least discussed themes from last week’s CES conference in Las Vegas: privacy.
Then they welcome back Taylor Lorenz, journalist for the Atlantic. Glaser and Oremus talk to her about what social media might look like in 2019. Forget Facebook for a second. Forget Twitter, Snapchat, even YouTube, which was the focus of our conversation with Lorenz last year. They talk to her about what the kids are up to now, like making dance videos on Tik Tok, making Instagram eggs go viral, and making friends in the comments sections of social apps.

21:14 - Interview with Taylor Lorenz.
39:30 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Podcast production by Max Jacobs
If Then plugs:
You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at
If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.
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