Adam Ruins the Internet

Dec 04 2016

Log on to a magical technological journey as Adam shows how smartphones aren’t really society-killers, why Americans pay big for the worst internet speed in the world and how “free” sites are actually costly. Here are his sources.


“That complaint is literally as old as society itself. Every time technology advances, people say it’s the end of the world. After the telephone was invented, newspapers worried it was so addictive we’d become a ‘race of left-eared people.’”

“Left-Earedness and the Telephone.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 20 Apr. 1904. Web.

That old cliché is completely wrong. More Americans read today than did in the 1950s!”

Madrigal, Alexis C. “The Next Time Someone Says the Internet Killed Reading Books, Show Them This Chart.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 6 Apr. 2012. Web.

CHYRON: “...confusing and harmful abundance of books.” -- Conrad Gessner, 16th Century”

Nowak, Peter. “Boo! A brief history of technology scares.” Macleans. Rogers Media, 1 Nov. 2011. Web.

Well, if you believe Socrates, you’re not! The father of philosophy himself complained about the ultimate corrupting modern invention -- the written word!”

Nowak, Peter. “Boo! A brief history of technology scares.” Macleans. Rogers Media, 1 Nov. 2011. Web.

Cities in Korea, Japan, Switzerland, France, and even Romania have internet fast enough to download an entire high-def movie in just seven seconds.”

Miller, Claire Cain. “Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 30 Oct. 2014. Web.

Actually, we pay as low as one- tenth of what many Americans pay.”

Russo, Nick et al. “The Cost of Connectivity 2014.” New America Foundation, 2014. Web.

State and local governments gave early cable companies exclusive contracts in exchange for building new cable lines.”

Honan, Mat. “Why the Government Won’t Protect You from Getting Screwed by Your Cable Company.” Gizmodo. Univision Communications, 15 Aug. 2011. Web.

Turns out, a lotta harm. Those early cable lines would become the only viable way to get broadband internet to your home. So now, if you want fast Internet, you probably don’t have a choice.”

Moore, Heidi. “Price-gouging cable companies are our latter-day robber barons.” The Guardian. Guardian Media Group, 4 Jun. 2013. Web.

They hatched their plan in 1997, during what one cable executive called the Summer of Love.”

Crawford, Susan P. “The Communications Crisis in America.” Harvard Law and Policy Review. 5 (2011). Web.

Nope! In those places, service providers compete! In fact, France requires companies to share space on their networks with competitors. Some French people have six high- speed providers to choose from.”

Holmes, Allan and Zubak-Skees, Chris. “These maps show why internet is way more expensive in the US than Europe.” The Verge. Vox Media, 1 Apr. 2015. Web.

But in our country, cable jerks have used every tool at their disposal to ERADICATE competition. They’ve even lobbied state governments to make it illegal for cites to build their own networks.”

Brodkin, Jon. “ISP lobby has already won limits on public broadband in 20 states.” Ars Technica. Conde Nast, 12 Feb. 2012. Web.

That’s not a hypothetical. This actually happened to a woman in Tampa.”

Angwin, Julia. Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. New York: Times Books, 2014. Web.

They actually record which ads you see, then partner with firms that monitor what you do in the real world.”

Manjoo, Farhad. “Facebook Followed You to the Supermarket.” Slate. Graham Holdings Company, 20 Mar. 2013. Web.

Google’s tracking code is installed on over 10 million websites. Even medical sites. So that health info you think you’re viewing in private? Google’s got a front row seat.”

Empson, Rip. “Google Biz Chief: Over 10M Websites Now Using Google Analytics.” TechCrunch. AOL, 12 Apr. 2012. Web.

And that’s not all. Every time you search on Google, watch a video on YouTube or use Google Maps, Google collects data about you.”

Peterson, Andrea. “How to make Google forget your most embarrassing searches.” Washington Post. Graham Holdings Company, 5 Jul. 2016. Web.

One in SIX people on earth now has a Facebook account, and they account for 20 percent of ALL time spent online.”

D’Onfro, Jillian. “Here’s how much time people spend on Facebook per day.” Business Insider. Axel Springer SE, 8 Jul. 2015. Web.

And here’s the kicker. Do you want to know how much revenue your personal data is worth to Facebook? For every user they surveil, they make only 12 dollars.”

Frommer, Dan. “How much money did you make for Facebook last year?” Quartz. Atlantic Media Company, 29 Jan. 2016. Web.

For More on This Topic

This New York Times essay discusses another innovation considered the downfall of society in its own time: the coffee house.

Susan Crawford’s book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age is a thorough exploration of the power wielded by cable companies in modern America.

This feature by Farhad Manjoo at Slate offers a detailed peek into Facebook’s advertising practices, and how tracking plays out in your life on- and offline.