Video Doesn’t Capture Truth

Like text and audio, it can be manipulated and interpreted for political ends.

The White House has revoked the press pass of Jim Acosta, CNN’s chief White House correspondent, after a testy exchange between the reporter and President Trump at a news conference on Wednesday. Acosta posed a question about the Central American migrant caravan, challenging Trump’s framing of it as an “invasion” meant to reap political advantage. An irritated Trump tried to… read more

The Fetishization of Mr. Rogers’s ‘Look for the Helpers’

Turning the reassuring line for children into a meme for adults should make everyone uncomfortable.

After the senseless calamity of a mass shooting, people seek comforts—even small ones—in the face of horror. One of those small comforts has come to be Fred Rogers’s famous advice to look for the helpers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to… read more

The Myth of ‘Dumbing Down’

If you write about your expertise from a place of contempt, maybe you’re not so smart after all.

One of the pleasures I enjoy as an editor at The Atlantic is bringing the work of scientists and scholars to our pages. From the Object Lessons series on the ordinary lives of everyday things, to the Metropolis Now project on technology and urbanism, to our regular coverage of science, technology, and health, I have had the privilege of editing… read more

The Chinese Motherboard Hack Is a Crisis, Even If It Didn’t Really Happen

Apple, Amazon, and Super Micro have all denied the veracity of a report on Chinese hardware hacking. No matter the outcome, the results could inflame an already raw trade relationship for high tech between the U.S. and China.

It’s easy to forget in the app era, but Silicon Valley got its name from microchips. The generation that transformed orchards into Oracle did so by manufacturing electronic circuits that encrust “chips” of a semiconductor material, usually made of silicon. In the fertile purlicue south of San Francisco, the foundations of the electronic revolution were invented, designed, and manufactured. Shockley… read more

Trump Is Not Texting You

What should have been a routine, required national test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system has become a crucible for public distrust.

At 2:18 p.m. et today, your smartphone probably buzzed and shrieked before displaying a notice that resembled a text message. This was the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Federal Communications Commission’s test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts system (WEA). A test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which sends emergency messages to radio and television, followed two minutes later. Both… read more

Elon Musk’s Fait Accompli

Musk and Tesla have settled the SEC’s securities fraud lawsuit. The outcome feels like the end of an era for Musk.

Two days after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Elon Musk for securities fraud related to misleading tweets about Tesla, Musk and Tesla have reached an agreement with the SEC. The settlement allows Musk to stay on as CEO, but requires him to relinquish the role of Chairman of the Board, and not to seek that post again for three… read more

Elon Musk Is His Own Worst Enemy

The SEC’s suit against the Tesla CEO is the latest sign that he can’t separate his company’s performance from his vision for the future.

Elon Musk is a believer. In space travel, in clean energy, in massive engineering solutions to human problems. So the naysayers who don’t believe in the future of Tesla—which has struggled with production, labor, and debt issues—have always bugged him. On August 7, he announced a possible solution: Withdrawing from the public market and the scrutiny it brings. “Am considering… read more

Another Day, Another Facebook Problem

Facebook has identified, and fixed, an exploit that allowed attackers to gain control of user accounts. These failures are so common and so widespread, it’s becoming hard to even notice them.

More bad news: Facebook has announced that a security exploit allowed attackers to gain control of at least 50 million user accounts. According to the company, the exploit impacted a feature that lets users see what their profile looks like to another user. In this case, the breach doesn’t appear to involve extracting data from servers. Instead, the defect—introduced by… read more

The New iPhones Are Big So You Won’t Put Them Down

Apple’s latest designs mark the end of casual, one-handed smartphone use. Instead, the device is meant to occupy more of your attention, more of the time.

“Big news,” Apple’s website reads today, in text set over a photo of the new smartphone models the company just announced. Two big iPhones display what look like gaseous planets. Big ones, like Jupiter, but maybe bigger than that, even. These phones are big. Big money, for one thing—almost $1,500 for the top-of-the-line. But more than that, big screens. The… read more

Brands Are Not Our Friends

Comcast sent me 10 pizzas. This isn’t nice; it’s manipulative.

I didn’t realize how seriously companies take social media until last year, when I opened my front door and saw a delivery guy holding a stack of pizza boxes up to his chin. Comcast had recently started advertising mobile-phone service where I live. Given that Comcast and AT&T were already the only local choices for broadband and cable, the move felt… read more