Surgeon General Warns About Social Media [Content Made Simple]
Issue #312: AI novel-writer, TikTok in Montana, and more.
Hey! Something I failed to mention in my life update yesterday is that I do consulting, and I will continue to do so even once I take a break from the newsletter this fall! I also speak to churches and parent groups about social media on occasion and will continue to do that when invited to do so.
I consult with churches, Christian organizations, and individuals on digital content strategy and related matters.
If you’d like to hire me as a consultant, just email me at email@example.com, and let’s chat! I have an few openings and am glad to explore adding some more consulting clients.
TOP OF THE WEEK
The surgeon general's warning is a wake-up call for social networks
One, children are starting to use social media too young. The report found two in five children have begun using social networks between the ages of 8 and 12 — a deeply vulnerable time where it seems unlikely to me that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. And this comes despite the fact that companies’ own terms of service typically forbid children under 13 from using them. Platforms really ought to do more to keep young children off their platforms — and not openly court them with cynical growth-hack products like Messenger Kids from Meta.
Casey Newton covers this massive development and hits all the key points. Read this piece, please. If you don’t read anything else in this email, read this.
THE TRIVIA QUESTION
The most Oscars a single movie has ever won is 11. Three movies have done this. How many can you name?
Answer at the bottom.
HITTING THE LINKS
Link #1: On the internet, you can, in some sense, live forever
Fascinating thoughts here from Ryan.
Erasing old content is, also, a fundamental betrayal of what the internet was created for. It was meant to be an infinitely expanding space of unlimited discovery. One that exists beyond what was possible in the physical world. You could be whoever you want, talk to whoever you want, and interact non-linearly across time and space. And a lot of companies got very rich by offering us the opposite: walled gardens and passive algorithmic recommendations jammed into linear feeds, which they marketed as more secure, more convenient, and more entertaining.
Link #2: I tried the AI novel-writing tool everyone hates, and it’s better than I expected
Man. AI in creative work is getting concerning, to be sure.
For all its shortcomings, Story Engine is strangely satisfying. If early AI writing felt like guiding a very well-read toddler into telling stories, Story Engine feels sort of like building a video game prototype. You start with an idea and try to get a computer to execute it. The results probably aren’t quite what you expect, but through trial and error, you can lean into what the system does well and find the fun.
Link #3: TikTok sues Montana over its new law banning the app
This was bound to happen. Will be interesting to see how things proceed here.
TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against Montana after the state passed a law last week intended to ban the app from being downloaded within its borders.
The widely expected lawsuit argues that banning a hugely popular social media app amounts to an illegal suppression of free speech tantamount to censorship.
THE FUNNY PART
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Trivia answer: The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Titanic, and Ben-Hur.