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The Big Story: The Nation’s Rage Machine

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The Big Story podcast

The real big story this week goes well beyond digital advertising.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers ignited nationwide protests. But that murder was just the spark that ignited the firestorm. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus lockdowns, tension had been building since the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery – and well beyond.

In this episode, the AdExchanger team wonders what role digital media played in the current state of the country.

Admittedly, the conversation that really needs to be had is about undoing the racial bias against African Americans that has been hardcoded into our institutions. Policing is at the forefront, but the problem goes beyond that.

But digital media, in the way it can both amplify voices and distort narratives, has and will continue to play a role in race relations in the United States. At best, it brings awareness and can channel a chorus of voices demanding real change. While justice has not yet been served in the Ahmaud Arbery shooting, the men accused of his murder would have likely remained free had a video of his death not gone viral.

And digital media has also been a wedge, sowing divisions and capitalizing on rage to drive up views and engagement. More insidiously, platforms promote a soundbite culture that quickly pollutes well-meaning dialogue, or they serve as echo chambers that reinforce toxicity and racism.

After the break, the AdExchanger team shifts gears and examines the antitrust case the Department of Justice is building against Google.

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