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Everything They Know

Mar 10, 2020

When I got on Facebook in 8th grade, it was worth somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million. By the time I was a junior in college, studying abroad in Senegal and forced to have a much more limited Internet experience, it was worth $50 billion. 

Today, it’s worth about $550 billion, the 5th most valuable company in the world. 

How did they do it? 

Well, it turns out your data is really, really valuable to advertisers. And the longer you stay on the platform, the more ads they can serve you, translating directly to more dollars in their pocket. 

What happened, is that they discovered anger and fear. Anger and fear drive more engagement than positivity and hope ever could -- and so that was the content their algorithm pushed. 

In the preparation for this episode, I asked a colleague for an introduction to a friend of his who I wanted to interview for this podcast, a former senior executive at a social media company. 

The response? 

“I sold. I’m out. I don’t want anyone to remember I was doing that.” 


Featured guests this episode: 

K Krasnow Waterman was the Chief Information Officer of the first post-9/11 data analytics facility established by the White House and, next, led the reorganization of the FBI's intelligence operations. She has held a multitude of roles across the government and business worlds, as well as being a Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tim Shea is the founder and CEO of Latticework Insights

Bryan Lane is the Director of Data and Artificial Intelligence at the General Services Administration.

Michael Slaby was the Chief Technology Officer of Obama for America in 2008. In 2012, he rejoined the campaign as Chief Integration and Innovation Officer. When the campaign finished, he began work on social impact organizations that leverage technology to create social movements. Today, he's the Chief Strategist at Harmony Labs

Eric Yang is the Founder and Executive Director at Junto. Junto is a new breed of social media founded in the spirit of authenticity, with the goal of rebalancing our relationship with technology and inspiring agency, privacy, and free expression. 

Jonathon Morgan is the founder of Yonder, a fast-growing Authentic Internet company on a mission to give the online world the same amount of authentic cultural context as the offline world. Using artificial intelligence, we help organizations identify the groups and narratives that drive conversation, revealing what matters and creating the confidence to act.