Ava Kofman

  • The Thin Gray Line

    THE JOURNALIST EYAL PRESS HAS LONG BEEN FASCINATED by the vagaries of conscience. Why do some people speak out against misconduct while others stay silent? What price does such bravery exact? What distinguishes a genuine act of moral courage from a self-interested attempt to keep one’s hands clean?

    In Beautiful Souls, a tour de force of reportage from 2012, Press investigated the stories of “nonconformists” who chose to break rank when faced with grave wrongdoing. His subjects included those who helped Jewish refugees escape from Nazi Germany, rescued Croats from their Serbian tormentors, and

  • User Illusion

    For a long time, the internet seemed to resist description. Like the unconscious, the early Web was baffling, unsettling, even a little embarrassing. New users, unaccustomed to virtual terrain, compared it to a dream. Its inventors favored unhelpful hyperbole: Theirs, they claimed, was the greatest invention since penicillin or the printing press. Novelists steered clear of online life altogether, brandishing their abstinence as a sign of literary integrity.

    Meanwhile, many journalists, the demographic perhaps best suited to cover the internet revolution, were boosterish and complacent. Even

  • We Screwed Up!

    When did Facebook start to seem evil? Was it last March, when United Nations investigators accused the platform of enabling the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar? Or was it a few days after that, when it was revealed that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of people’s personal data to target votes, momentarily sending Facebook’s reputation (and stock) plummeting? Or in 2014, when researchers revealed that they had conducted a massive psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 users—without their consent—to determine whether manipulating feeds to