Max Fisher Profile picture
Writer @nytimes of The Interpreter, a column exploring the ideas and context behind major world events. Author of "The Chaos Machine," out in September.
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May 20 15 tweets 3 min read
News: A major U.S. company is, through a factory in owns in Russia, quietly supplying vital materials used by Russia’s air and missile forces in Ukraine

Our investigation reveals the company’s terms with Moscow – and its struggle to keep its plant running nytimes.com/2022/05/20/wor… We reconstructed the history of Alcoa/Arconic's involvement in Russia through financial filings, archival reports, and, chiefly, internal company documents provided by a whistleblower who had a moral objection to the company continuing this work amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Apr 28 6 tweets 2 min read
Two stories today highlight that authoritarianism doesn’t come with a tank rolling up to the capital anymore. It comes with a leader promising to do whatever it takes to control the dangerous minorities or radicals in our midst, to protect “us” from “them.” In El Salvador, Bukele’s iron-fist crackdown on crime is winning grudging public support, even as he hollows out the judiciary and independent institutions. If they try to check his power, they must oppose the people’s will or support the criminals, right? nytimes.com/2022/04/28/wor…
Mar 26 7 tweets 2 min read
I would strongly urge people to wait for the context on Biden’s speech before repeating that he called for regime change in Russia, much less made this US policy. The nine-word quote being passed around does not, on its own, support this. Maybe it will turn out that, in context, he did say this. But folks may be overinterpreting based on a very unusual stretch in 2011, when Obama said similar things to signal when the US was dropping support for MidEast leaders facing Arab Spring protests. Not really the same.
Feb 21 4 tweets 1 min read
If Moscow stops at DNR/LNR recognition, even with a bloody invasion to 2014 borders, it’s very easy to imagine certain European capitals using that as an excuse to declare the worst averted and walk away from Biden’s full sanctions proposal. Might be part of the calculus. Berlin was already signaling its fear of sanctions blowback, and it was always going to be a stretch for Scholz to sell German voters on economic self-sacrifice for the sake of Kyiv, much less Mariupol ft.com/content/b23082…
Mar 23, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
South Korea and Italy had near-concurrent outbreaks that initially followed a parallel, terrifying trajectory.

Mere weeks later, as Italy reports 793 deaths in one day, Korea has two. Some days it has *zero*.

Me and Choe Sang-Hun report how they did it: nytimes.com/2020/03/23/wor… Two common misapprehensions about Korea:

1) That it prevented an outbreak. In fact, their success was subduing an epidemic already underway
2) That Korea relied on special magical technology. In truth, its methods and containment tools are not prohibitively complex or expensive.
Mar 20, 2020 10 tweets 2 min read
I keep thinking about Lodi and Bergamo, two small cities in northern Italy both hit by coronavirus around Feb 23

Their infection rates looked identical for weeks, until, on March 8, Bergamo’s surged so rapidly that the military was later sent in to relieve overwhelmed morgues What happened on March 8? Well, nothing. By then, both had similar policies in place, including social distancing.
Aug 12, 2019 12 tweets 9 min read
Now live: Our monthslong project on YouTube radicalization.

As YouTube diverts more and more users down far-right rabbitholes, could its algorithm, in a way, radicalize an entire society?

To find out, we went to YouTube's 2nd-largest market: Brazil. nytimes.com/2019/08/11/wor… We expected, at most, faint hints that YouTube helped inch far-right Jair Bolsonaro to the presidency.

Instead, Bolsonaro allies and far-right lawmakers all told us YT put them in power. Far-right activists gratefully credited YT's algorithm with their "political awakening."
Jun 3, 2019 16 tweets 4 min read
YouTube’s algorithm has been curating home movies of unwitting families into a catalog of semi-nude kids, we found.

YT often plays the videos after users watch softcore porn, building an audience of millions for what experts call child sexual exploitation
nytimes.com/2019/06/03/wor… Each video might appear innocent on its own, a home movie of a kid in a two-piece swimsuit or a nightie. But each has three common traits:
• the girl is mostly unclothed or briefly nude
• she is no older than age 8
• her video is being heavily promoted by YouTube’s algorithm