The Download: tracking teachers online, and how influencers navigate algorithms

Tyler said he was unable to enter phrases like “Black Lives Matter” and “supporting Black excellence” into his Marketplace profile. However, phrases like “white supremacy” and “supporting white excellence” were allowed.

TikTok apologized and blamed an automatic filter. However, these sorts of problems have cropped up and been flagged by creators again and again.

Brooke Erin Duffy, an associate professor at Cornell University, teamed up with graduate student Colten Meisner to interview 30 creators on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, YouTube, and Twitter around the time Tyler’s video went viral. They wanted to know how creators navigate the algorithms and moderation practices of the platforms they use.

They found that understanding the algorithms and hidden rules that guide each platform is practically a job in itself. Read our interview with Duffy about her research.

—Abby Ohlheiser

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 A looming copper shortage could jeopardize net-zero targets
Demand for the metal, which is widely used for renewable energy, is set to double by 2035. (CNBC) 
Europe is bracing itself for a record-breaking heatwave next week. (CNN)
2 Covid hospitalizations are rising again in the US
It’s an unfortunate trend that’s colliding with widespread shortages of nurses. (NYT $)
+ Time to break out the rapid tests again. (Slate $)
+ Desperate long covid patients are paying vast sums for unproven treatments. (Ars Technica)
3 Sri Lanka is in crisis, and so are its scientists
It’s grappling with a massive dengue-fever outbreak and power cuts amid political upheaval. (Nature)
4 Twitter experienced a major outage yesterday
Yet another problem for the besieged company, but at least this one wasn’t caused by Elon Musk. (BBC)
The SEC has broadened its inquiry into whether Musk properly followed due process in his bid. (NYT $)
5 NFT marketplace OpenSea has laid off 20% of its staff 
Mass layoffs are taking place all over the cryptosphere, as companies prepare for a prolonged downturn. (TechCrunch)
+ Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Facebook has been accused of “whitewashing” a report on human rights in India
India is its largest market by users, and it seems extremely reluctant to do anything to upset the Hindu nationalist ruling party. (Time)
How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation. (MIT Technology Review)
7 Lobbyists are hiding among us online
It was only a matter of time until Washington’s political power brokers started funneling money to influencers. (Wired $)
8 This weird bird could make us question our understanding of evolution 
The hoatzin poses a major challenge to the ‘tree of life’ model. (New Yorker $)
9 DALL-E 2’s failures are what’s most fascinating about it
It gives us a window into what AI does (and does not) understand about the human world. (IEEE Spectrum)
This horse-riding astronaut is a milestone in AI’s journey to make sense of the world. (MIT Technology Review)
10 This app forces you to stop working
It started off as a joke, but it turns out people really need it. (WSJ $)