If Then

How Hate Online Leads to Violence Offline

There’s a long history of online hate spilling off the internet and into the real world.

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

On this week’s If Then, Will Oremus and April Glaser speak with researcher Pablo Ortellado to look further into the presidential election in Brazil and how tech played a role. On Sunday, the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro was elected president, and many have attributed his victory to misinformation that spread like wildfire through WhatsApp in the months leading up to the election.


And it’s time again for more gadgets. Apple unveiled a new series of gizmos on Tuesday in Brooklyn: There were big changes to the iPad, Macbook Air, and Mac Mini.

The hosts are also joined by Joan Donovan, a lead researcher at Data & Society, who focuses on how hate groups congregate on social media. This conversation, sadly, comes following the horrific terrorist attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend. The shooter, Robert Bowers, had been an active user of the free-speech–centric social media platform Gab that has become a kind of digital playpen for neo-Nazi and white supremacists since forming in 2016. Gab went offline Sunday night.


5:43 - Interview with Pablo Ortellado


15:11 - Interview with Joan Donovan

33:41 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:

• Slate: “Apple Finally Released New Macs. But It Really Wants You to Buy an iPad Pro.

• The New York Times: “Fake News Is Poisoning Brazilian Politics. WhatsApp Can Stop It.

• Slate: The Synagogue Shooter’s Social Media Platform Is in Peril—Because Its Hate-Speech-Friendly Policy Is Morally Bankrupt

• Slate: “The Pipe Bomb Suspect Appears To Have Made Death Threats. Twitter Saw No Problem.

• Slate: “The Google X Executive Accused of Sexual Harassment Has Now Resigned

Don’t Close My Tabs:

The New York Times: “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’

Frontline: “The Facebook Dilemma (Part One)

Podcast production by Max Jacobs

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State UniversityNew America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.