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How 2020 transformed big tech: the story of Facebook, QAnon and the world’s slackening grip on reality

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November 11, 2020 at 06:00AM

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The coronavirus pandemic has left us living more and more of our lives online. But the place where we chat with friends, get our news and form our opinions is full of vile and dangerous conspiracy theories. Is the world’s biggest social network doing enough to combat them?

As with many others in Britain, lockdown hit Rachel and her husband, Philip, hard. Almost overnight, the couple, both in their early 50s, found themselves cut off from friends, family and colleagues. Before the Covid-19 outbreak, they had both been working every day; now Philip found himself furloughed, while Rachel was put on rotation with other essential staff, working fewer shifts at odd hours. They were unable to meet up with their four adult sons and daughters. They had to attend a family funeral while remaining socially distanced.

Initially, Rachel coped in the way many others did. She played more video games than normal, and felt stressed at work, but as far as possible she managed. Her husband didn’t. For him, it seemed there must be more to it than the authorities struggling to cope with a novel virus and evolving expert advice. “The regularly changing and conflicting information that was coming from the government added to the feeling in him that they were making things up or covering something up,” Rachel says now.

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How 2020 transformed big tech: the story of Facebook, QAnon and the world’s slackening grip on reality …

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