I went to the conference in suburban Detroit expecting a group of feminist-hating Internet trolls; I found much more
Still, being surrounded by men who belly-laughed at rape jokes and pinned evil elements of human nature wholesale on women was emotionally taxing at best and self-destructive at worst. Once, during a particularly upsetting segment of the program, I had to excuse myself from the auditorium to seek refuge on the bug-filled bank of Lake St. Clair. I kept wondering why I had volunteered to fly 600 miles to attend the conference alone, to surround myself not just with crass ideological opponents, but with people with violent Internet histories who believed my very existence oppressed them.
After the outcry against the Facebook research, we may see fewer of these studies from the company and the rest of the tech industry. That would be a shame.
But if every study showing Facebook’s power is greeted with an outcry over its power, Facebook and other sites won’t disclose any research into how they work. And isn’t it better to know their strength, and try to defend against it, than to never find out at all?