Season 2

  • 1: Bot Or Not

    From politics to poetry, bots are playing an increasingly visible role in culture. Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways. Show Notes
    Bots, they’re just like you and me. Except easier to find, especially on Twitter. :) Here’s a handy guide to spotting bots in social media, plus the answers to the bot-or-not quiz you heard on the episode.
  • 2: Digital Overload

    What does it mean to grow up online? We investigate how the www is changing our bodies and our brains. A college student shares his experience at rehab for Internet addiction. Bestselling author Nir Eyal breaks down what apps borrow from gambling technology. Writer Heather Schwedel talks about taking a cue from Kanye and breaking up with Twitter. And blogger Joshua Cousins talks about the Internet as a lifeline, in the wake of recent natural disasters. Show Notes
    Looking to reset your relationship with the Internet? Check out our digital detox kit. And if you still need something to stop your phone’s constant beep boops, we have the next best thing: an IRL ringtone.
  • 3: Face Value

    From Snapchat filters to Apple’s Face ID, biometric technology plays a growing role in our everyday lives. What do we actually give up when we upload our face to these apps? Steven Talley shares his experience as a victim of mistaken identity. Joseph Atick, a forefather of facial recognition technology, reckons with its future. We head to to China, where biometric data is part of buying toilet paper. And artist Adam Harvey investigates how racial bias seeps into big data sets. Show Notes
    Today, more than half of US adults are recorded in police facial recognition databases. For more on the far-reaching impact of facial recognition tech, check out our blog.
  • 4: Cloak of Invisibility

    On the Internet no one knows you’re a dog, as the old joke goes. But does anonymity truly exist on the web anymore? And when it’s taken from us, what else do we lose? So Sad Today talks about the value of anonymity for women and self-care. Jonathan Hirshon shares his personal battle to keep his face off Facebook. New Yorker cartoonists Peter Steiner and Kaamran Hafeez discuss the evolution of memes and digital anonymity, in dog years. And Alison Macrina and Morgan Taylor reveal what’s underneath the surface of the searchable web. Show Notes
    The most famous cartoon in New Yorker history is about a dog on the Internet. Makes sense. Cartoonist Kaamran Hafeez revisits the OG doggo meme, with an update for the post-privacy era. Check out his new cartoons, inspired by this very episode.
  • 5: Algorisky

    From Google search to Facebook news, algorithms shape our online experience. But like us, algorithms are flawed. Whether intentional or not, biases get written into code. Now, more than ever, it’s up to us to push for accountability. Because when bad code spreads disinformation, it’s never something that “the algorithm did.” It’s something people did. Veronica Belmont investigates algorithmic accountability, in conversation with Luke Dormehl, Staci Burns, James Bridle, Nick Seaver, and Safiya Noble. Show Notes
    Algorithms aren’t neutral. They’re really just recipes; expressions of human intent. That means it’s up to us to build the algorithms we want. Read more on how we can make algorithms more accountable.
  • 6: Social Bubble Bath

    We’ve long heard that the ways the web is tailored for each user—how we search, what we’re shown, who we read and follow— reinforces walls between us. Veronica Belmont investigates how social media can create, and can break, our filter bubbles. Megan Phelps-Roper discusses the Westboro Baptist Church, and the bubbles that form both on and offline. B.J. May talks about the bubbles he encountered every day, in his Twitter feed, and tells us how he broke free. Rasmus Nielsen suggests social media isn’t the filter culprit we think it is. And, within the context of a divided America, DeRay McKesson argues that sometimes bubbles are what hold us together. Show Notes
  • 7: Ctrl+Alt+Facts

    From campaign bots to conspiracy videos, it’s harder than ever to discover the truth online. In conversation with The New York Times’ Sheera Frenkel, Data For Democracy Policy Lead and Mozilla Fellow Renee DiResta, and DisInfoMedia founder Jestin Coler, we navigate the age of disinformation. It’s the season finale of IRL, recorded live in San Francisco on March 18th, 2018. Show Notes
    A recent Gallup survey found that most Americans feel that it’s harder today to be well-informed than ever before. But each of us can play a part in stopping the spread of misinformation. Learn more.