On designing social tools for society

A version published on Quartz can be found here.

Facebook’s old internal motto: Move fast and break things

Data exploits affecting millions, election hacking, the death of newspapers, weaponized propaganda, troll armies, deepening polarization and the shaky future of democracy itself. It seems we’re presented daily with a laundry list of dystopian consequences linked back to our collective overuse of social media.

People are crying for change, but there’s a missing piece of the conversation: despite the emerging awareness of many of the terrible side effects of these platforms, we are dependent on them.

They’ve become our local news channels, our emergency communication systems, our town squares, and the…

The story of how one metric has changed the way you see the world

The world feels more dangerous. Our streets seem less safe. The assault on our values is constant. The threats feel real.

The enemy is out there — just check your feed.

One evening in late October 2014, a doctor checked his own pulse and stepped onto a subway car in New York City. He had just returned home from a brief stint volunteering overseas, and was heading to Brooklyn to meet some friends at a bowling alley. He was looking forward to this break — earlier that day he had gone for a run around the city, grabbed coffee on…

Our technology has changed this election, and is now undermining our ability to empathize with each other

2019 note from the author: Though the sentiment remains valid, this article no longer represents the best research on what is causing systemic division in society. For more thorough representation, please read my more recent articles.

The thing that has become the most clear to us this election year is that we don’t agree on the fundamental truths we thought we did.

I went to college in the part of Pennsylvania that definitely flipped the state for Trump. …

Reconsidering why we give in the wake of Somaly Mam.

Consider these two stories:

— I—
A young man growing up poor in the countryside of a developing country is beaten, sold into slavery and forced into a life of a hard labor. He lives through much trauma and eventually escapes, founding an organization dedicated to preventing the violence and horror he endured. He needs your help to carry his mission forward. Will you help him?

— II—
A nonprofit that works to prevent human slavery in poor nations provides victim services to 6,000 people, healthcare to 6,500 people, and educates 4,000 more. Their work is recommended by Charity Watch and…

Tobias Rose-Stockwell

Seeking human improvement.

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