Zeynep Tufekci Quotes

Twitter has made a huge, positive difference in my life, and changed the landscape of politics in multiple countries I studied, including my home country, Turkey.

Zeynep Tufekci

We care deeply, deeply about our social status and signals, and will do just about anything for them. And humans will make anything and everything into social signals.

Zeynep Tufekci

If you have a tool like Twitter that gives everybody the ability to speak, but in 140 characters at a time, it’s almost inevitable that it’s going to encourage some forms of bickering. One-hundred-and-forty characters is prone to misunderstanding. There are real limits to how this thing functions.

Zeynep Tufekci

Lawmakers, sometimes they get surprised by something and they assess it to be powerful even when it’s not really signaling that kind of capacity.

Zeynep Tufekci

Omicron has demonstrated a propensity for superspreading, so places where vulnerable populations live together need to be on high alert.

Zeynep Tufekci

Social support is crucial at every stage of life, and too often we are both late to react to threats, and slow to relax restrictions.

Zeynep Tufekci

Condemnation campaigns can and do work, even in conditions where one thinks there are no morals left.

Zeynep Tufekci

It’s not speech per se that allows democracies to function, but the ability to agree – eventually, at least some of the time – on what is true, what is important and what serves the public good. This doesn’t mean everyone must agree on every fact, or that our priorities are necessarily uniform.

Zeynep Tufekci

Bike-friendly cities provide some of the best quality of life.

Zeynep Tufekci

Containing Ebola is a no-brainer, and not that expensive. If we fail at this, when we know exactly what to do, how are we going to tackle the really complex problems we face?

Zeynep Tufekci

When people confidently announce that once robots come for our jobs, we’ll find something else to do like we always did, they are drawing from a very short history.

Zeynep Tufekci

I choose not to block all ads partly because it’s useful to my research to see how things work online, and also partly because I thought this had little to no effect on me, personally.

Zeynep Tufekci

What’s a soccer mom but a general category that hides great variation?

Zeynep Tufekci

Technical solutions have to be built around and integrated with social signals, not by stepping on them.

Zeynep Tufekci

In our increasingly connected world, every virus is but a hop or two away: almost all humans are close enough to someone who flies – maybe except the isolated tribes in the Amazon.

Zeynep Tufekci

Data is immensely appealing to me as a social scientist.

Zeynep Tufekci

There are worse things than being exploited, and being redundant and unable to make a living is one of them.

Zeynep Tufekci

Humans exist in social groups and rely on social signals to make the group work – signals that are symbolic, and appear without teeth, but in essence are among the most powerful dynamics of a human society.

Zeynep Tufekci

Automated gender analysis of my writings often marks me as male, probably because I write about technology, and also about war. But our algorithmic overlords are onto me: I mostly encounter three types of ads online: weight loss, beauty products, and online degrees from shady for-profits.

Zeynep Tufekci

Pandemics have long been among my favorite topics to teach sociology with, not because the subject is cheery, but because they contain so many of the lessons about our modern world.

Zeynep Tufekci

Humans have only so many ‘irreplaceable’ skills, and the idea that we’ll just keep outrunning the machines, skill-wise, is a folly.

Zeynep Tufekci

Modern shortages of ‘labor’ are almost always a shortage of willingness to pay well, or a desire to avoid hiring the ‘wrong’ kind of people.

Zeynep Tufekci

Our social networks, our news, our mundane existence and our important moments are all mediated by algorithms, whose proprietary, profit-driven, ad-financed nature seeps into every small micro-interaction.

Zeynep Tufekci

Given exponential growth dynamics of infectious diseases, containing an epidemic is straightforward early on, but nearly impossible once a disease spreads among a population.

Zeynep Tufekci

I object to the technology as a tool formulation not because it doesn’t have some truth in it, but it’s more like it’s so simplistic that it makes it sound like we can just change our mind and do something else with it and be fine and it doesn’t work that way. It has its own power.

Zeynep Tufekci

Even common colds can cause fatal outbreaks in nursing homes.

Zeynep Tufekci

Attention is powerful and can dampen violence even in seemingly worst conditions.

Zeynep Tufekci

If you’re on Facebook and you’re trying to reach out, you really have to figure out how to feed and please its algorithm. If you don’t, people aren’t going to see your stuff because the algorithm is not going to show it to them.

Zeynep Tufekci

I’m a lifelong exerciser, and also an academic with interest in, and access to, research, so I tend to read the research about most things I do regularly.

Zeynep Tufekci

The coronavirus is airborne, so stopping its spread requires more focus on ventilation, air filtering and better masks, like N95s or KF94s, or surgical masks, preferably with braces that make them fit better.

Zeynep Tufekci

When it comes to strength training, the industry pushes women to under-exercise, and men to over-exercise, accompanied by pictures of people who almost certainly are not merely weight-training. This is just as wrong.

Zeynep Tufekci

Attention, to a terrorist group, is often what the well-meaning, outraged response is to your two-bit Internet troll: it is the food that feeds them.

Zeynep Tufekci

Biking is a great way to get around.

Zeynep Tufekci

Surprising as it may seem, norms matter, even in the hell that is war.

Zeynep Tufekci

That is the key strength of independent academia: we can speak up in spite of corporate or government interests.

Zeynep Tufekci

Very few of us consider strength-training as essential exercise, but it is. It is especially crucial as one ages, because a natural part of the aging process is losing muscle.

Zeynep Tufekci

In a time of information avalanche, focusing on what is true and important can be a revolutionary act.

Zeynep Tufekci

Large corporations exist to sell us things, and to impose their interests, and I don’t understand why we as the research/academic community should just think that’s totally fine, or resign to it as ‘the world we live in.’

Zeynep Tufekci

The secret truth of power of broadcast is that while very effective in restricting limits of acceptable public speech, it was never that good at motivating people individually.

Zeynep Tufekci

In 2003, the world didn’t learn about SARS until after it had escaped China and become impossible to deny.

Zeynep Tufekci

Just like healthy diets, the best pandemic interventions are sustainable, logical, and scientifically justified.

Zeynep Tufekci

Epidemiologists routinely turn to models to predict the progression of an infectious disease. Fighting public suspicion of these models is as old as modern epidemiology, which traces its origins back to John Snow’s famous cholera maps in 1854.

Zeynep Tufekci

A model’s robustness depends on how often it gets tried out and tweaked based on data and its performance.

Zeynep Tufekci

The outdoors, exercise, sunshine, and fresh air are all good for people’s immune systems and health, and not so great for viruses.

Zeynep Tufekci

In fact, commercial aviation is so safe because redundancy is mandated by regulation and built into every level, but our commercial-flying experience is so miserable because airlines have made it as efficient as possible to save money.

Zeynep Tufekci

In many complex systems, efficiency, redundancy, and resiliency pull in different directions: More efficient systems, which are cheaper, eliminate redundancies, which provide resilience but cost more.

Zeynep Tufekci

Authoritarian blindness is a perennial problem, especially in large countries like China with centralized, top-down administration.

Zeynep Tufekci

I adored Copenhagen, the city of biking.

Zeynep Tufekci

In 2020, Wuhan may seem remote to Western audiences, but it’s a bustling, giant city with more than 500 direct international flights a day, situated in a country that has made great strides in domestic transportation since 2003, with more flights and high-speed train lines.

Zeynep Tufekci

Trump’s ploy to defund the WHO is a transparent effort to distract from his administration’s failure to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zeynep Tufekci

Protest is the traditional way that Hong Kongers, who do not have full voting rights, express discontent.

Zeynep Tufekci

If anything, social media is a counterweight to the ongoing devaluation of human lives.

Zeynep Tufekci

We have an energy crisis but we continue to consume as if there will be a magical solution.

Zeynep Tufekci

Frankly, I find even the most mindless lolcat sites on the Internet to be an improvement over canned-laughter-filled sitcoms.

Zeynep Tufekci

If you’re teargassed repeatedly, as I have been as an academic researching protest movements, you learn how to hold your breath and close your eyes.

Zeynep Tufekci

In 2016, there was no sign that conservative pages did badly on Facebook. To the contrary, they were the pages that got the most engagement on Facebook.

Zeynep Tufekci

There is no doubt that social-media fury can go wrong.

Zeynep Tufekci

The punishment online mobs can mete out is often disproportionate.

Zeynep Tufekci

Unsurprisingly, Hong Kong has had a long history of epidemics. The 1968 flu pandemic that killed 1 million people around the world started in Hong Kong, and killed at least many thousands of the city’s residents, and became known as the Hong Kong flu. Hong Kong also lost the most people outside of mainland China to the 2003 SARS epidemic.

Zeynep Tufekci

You might be tempted to think that China has a Streisand-effect problem, in which trying to censor an event creates even more publicity. But that assumes the Chinese government doesn’t understand the Streisand effect, and that can’t be right, because if one government understands attention dynamics online, it’s China’s.

Zeynep Tufekci

In complex systems, one can think about linear interactions and complex or nonlinear interactions.

Zeynep Tufekci

Apple depends on China for much of its hardware production and to juice its iPhone sales.

Zeynep Tufekci

Modeling an exponential process necessarily produces a wide range of outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, that’s because the spread of the disease depends on exactly when you stop cases from doubling.

Zeynep Tufekci

I’m all for biking and bikeable cities.

Zeynep Tufekci

We have long known most everything there is to know about what the average adult in reasonable health needs to do for fitness, and how. There is no new fad to uncover, nor is the science of it an unknown, complex field.

Zeynep Tufekci

Much of what ails our modern life is exactly because we reduce the value of a human being to a number, say salary or consumer power.

Zeynep Tufekci

If some people fly, any virus can get to any country.

Zeynep Tufekci

When I type ‘Fukushima radiation’ into Google, I get a mish-mash of confusing, unhelpful, outdated or sensationalist articles from a random mix of sources, none looking very trustworthy or comforting.

Zeynep Tufekci

We have large-scale nuclear power but are avoiding steps to evaluate it, update it or make it safer.

Zeynep Tufekci

Political activism is not failing because people are too busy watching cat videos online, but because of a fundamental collapse of citizen leverage on institutions of power like governments and corporations.

Zeynep Tufekci

It seems to me that states (and corporations) have become increasingly secretive and opaque, while people are increasingly exposed.

Zeynep Tufekci

The first time I was teargassed, in Istanbul, Turkey, I thought I was going to die. Overwhelming pain flooded my eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. I couldn’t breathe.

Zeynep Tufekci

Playing the refs by browbeating them has long been a key move in the right-wing playbook against traditional media.

Zeynep Tufekci

As long as Facebook and other social-media platforms make money by increasing engagement without much regard to the content they algorithmically amplify, it doesn’t matter whether every last employee is an avowed liberal.

Zeynep Tufekci

Many of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong seat diners elbow to elbow, knee to knee.

Zeynep Tufekci

Fixing the WHO is crucial, because we desperately need well-functioning global health institutions.

Zeynep Tufekci

Exercise, the outdoors, and sunshine are essential, not just as luxuries but as ways to sustain population health and resilience.

Zeynep Tufekci

If pandemic theater gets mixed up with scientifically sound practices, we will not be able to persuade people to continue with the latter.

Zeynep Tufekci

Exponential growth isn’t the only tricky part of epidemiological models. These models also need to use parameters to plug into the variables in the equations. But where should those parameters come from?

Zeynep Tufekci

Western companies (and governments) have deeply integrated themselves with an authoritarian regime without thinking through the consequences, and when push comes to shove, many will choose money over their nice mission statements.

Zeynep Tufekci

In the Middle Ages, psychosis may have involved visions of the devil, snakes, or witches. In the 21st century, it can involve dressing in pseudo-combat gear, donning numerous high-powered rifles, and walking through a public place in a blaze of violence.

Zeynep Tufekci

Social media is enhancing human connectivity as people can converse in ways that were once not possible.

Zeynep Tufekci

Behavioral research increasingly confirms what one might suspect: when confronted with a long-term catastrophic problem which requires short-term unpleasant consequences, many people will try to avoid making a decision altogether even if it makes the problem worse over the long run.

Zeynep Tufekci

Entertainment can only go so far if a regime is unable to provide the basic foundations of legitimacy, which almost always includes the necessities for life and often extends to freedom and personal autonomy.

Zeynep Tufekci

A ‘fair’ fight between non-equals is not fair, and being blind to power is an implicit endorsement of the powerful.

Zeynep Tufekci

Remember, the Internet did not create freedom of speech; in theory, we always had freedom of speech – it’s just that it often went along with the freedom to be ignored. People had no access to the infrastructure to be heard.

Zeynep Tufekci

After decades of research, I’ve personally concluded that perhaps the single most effective police action for crowd control would be for the police to show up dressed like humans, not terminators. But crowd control is often not the point of state violence.

Zeynep Tufekci

Silicon Valley engineers and employees may well be overwhelmingly liberal, but Facebook is run by the algorithms they program, which optimize for the way the site makes money, rather than sifting through posts one by one.

Zeynep Tufekci

Throngs on social media violate fundamental notions of fairness and due process: People may be targeted because of a misunderstanding or an out-of-context video.

Zeynep Tufekci

Sometimes the social-media mob isn’t just justified or understandable, but necessary because little else is available to protect the real victims.

Zeynep Tufekci

Thanks partly to their long history of fighting epidemics, Hong Kong also has some of the world’s most prominent experts in infectious diseases.

Zeynep Tufekci

For many people, tear gas is their first interaction with state violence. It’s the first time they’ve been treated like an insect, usually by police geared up like robocops. That warlike stance is a strong escalatory agent in a protest.

Zeynep Tufekci

China is not a nation known for cooperating with international agencies when it doesn’t want to.

Zeynep Tufekci

Working with children with autism is difficult, tiring work, especially since the social rewards – the smile, the eye-contact, the hug, the thank you – that make most of us tick are few and far between. I’ve never tried such an endeavor; I’m in no position to judge anyone.

Zeynep Tufekci

China has made giant investments in gaming companies, and has many eager gamers.

Zeynep Tufekci

Lowering the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 and then to 55 and expanding the Veterans Health Administration, the largest integrated health care system in the country, to include firefighters, social workers, teachers and others who serve their communities are among the options that should become part of the political conversation.

Zeynep Tufekci

Ability to disseminate one’s ideas on the Internet is now a sine qua non of inclusion in the global public sphere. However, the Internet is not a true public sphere; it is a public sphere erected on private property, what I have dubbed a ‘quasi-public sphere,’ where the property owners can sideline and constrain dissent.

Zeynep Tufekci

What is the point of talking about health care access and outlining how it manifests itself in failure after failure, given that the Republican Party seems determined to block progress and even roll back what little improvement we have had with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare?

Zeynep Tufekci

Deluged by apparent facts, arguments and counterarguments, our brains resort to the most obvious filter, the easiest cognitive shortcut for a social animal: We look to our peers, see what they believe and cheer along. As a result, open and participatory speech has turned into its opposite.

Zeynep Tufekci

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