When the “sealer” became an aesthetic

[Chronique] An informant, a photo shoot and exclusive interviews in international newspapers: disclosures in the world of technology have become standardized in recent months. There is also the issue of the return of some officials who suddenly became witnesses behind the necessary com plans of the press, who had to put themselves on the stage to be heard.

Here you are reading the written version of the chronicle of our journalists The best in the world French Culture, in partnership with Numerama, on Friday at 21:00.

What if we hide the face of the modern reporter?

I’m not talking about Aaron Schwartz, Edward Snowden or Chelsea Manning, Marks, Tristans, Justins… The new wave of men (mostly) and women (a little) we’ve seen come out of the woodwork these past few years. Their place: to forcefully condemn today the tools they helped build yesterday.

For example, Tim Kendall was responsible for monetization at Facebook and was the president of Pinterest. Furious in a 2020 Netflix documentary, Behind our smokescreens : “ The sole purpose of sites like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube is to keep the user on the screen for as long as possible. They want to get as much of each member’s time and attention as possible. “we hear him say.

When it was released, this documentary genre caused a great stir. His intention is admirable: to inform the public about the reasons for his addiction to social networks. But there is a little mistake in the format. I set the scene for you: we watch a half-dozen ex-tech execs sitting facing the camera, arms crossed, intense gazes throwing out all the bad things they think about Silicon Valley, allowing them to grow horribly. rich for years before suddenly discovering a conscience.

The Guardian exclusively featured Mark McGann // Source: Guardian

One may ask: do they not have the right to repent? Of course, these words are important. But above all, they give credence to what NGOs, media and politicians have long condemned. And it is hard not to see a certain opportunism in the approach of these obvious former officials.

What has struck me more in recent years is that the informant has become an aesthetic in itself.

The shape of the scoop is as important as the bottom

Aside from this Netflix documentary, we’ve seen a flourishing of well-orchestrated exposés in the press, “marketed” almost down to the millimeter. The international media gets hold of the internal documents, reviews them, then arranges a nice photo shoot with what we might call – with some exaggeration, of course – ” moment mole “.

We no longer need to introduce Frances Haugen and her partnership with the Wall Street Journal, which obtained numerous internal documents from Facebook. Then in July 2022 it was Mark MacGann who had the right to photograph him in Le Monde and the Guardian. This powerful lobbyist helped force Uber into France when the service was illegal. In September, the Washington Post profiled former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko — a respected hacker and whistleblower, but a bit of an exception to the rule that didn’t last long. in the company he criticizes.

Of course, we will always prefer to know these revelations rather than to keep them secret. However, it is still a good idea to question the motives behind the actions of some of these “celebrity witnesses” and to consider what is behind their “celebrity” status. , perhaps a bit overused now.

Listen to Mari Turca’s chronicle (at 52’51)

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The best in the world It is a François Saltiel program developed with Juliette Devaux. It is available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer and other favorite platforms.

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