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By Eric Johnson
Published Nov 06, 2023

Image credit: Giorgi Balakhadze   CC-BY-SA-4.0

Are Facebook and Instagram Hurting Children?

I love and hate Facebook. I love it because I have used it for years to keep in touch with my family and oldest friends—many of whom I hadn’t heard from much before we all became FB friends. By facilitating instant two-way communications, Facebook became and remains the Internet’s killer app. I hate Facebook because, having studied it closely for years, I do believe that it is literally deadly.

For this week’s newsletter, Jonathan Vankin looks at the lawsuit that California Attorney General Rob Bonta and AGs across the country have filed against Facebook’s and Instagram’s parent company, Meta. The lawsuits allege that Meta exhibited a pattern of behavior in which it purposely caused children to become addicted to its products. (Duh.) The lawsuits describe various profound harms being experienced by our kids, and alleges that Meta’s own documents show that its executives knew that children were getting hurt, and continued these practices anyway.

Scott Galloway, NYU business school professor, offers a succinct analysis of the situation:

I think when we look back on this era of big tech, we’re gonna feel bad about monopoly abuse … we’re going to feel bad about the weaponization of our elections, vaccine misinformation—we’re gonna regret all of it. And I think that’s all gonna be dwarfed by this one regret, and that’s “how the [expletive] did we let this happen to our children?”

Moral Panic or Justifiable Outrage?

We know that kids are spending massive amounts of their lives on social-media sites. We know that there is a full-blown mental-health crisis among today’s teenagers. Are those phenomena related? And is that a corporate crime?

California Sues Meta For Damaging Kids’ Mental Health

How does social media affect the minds and well-being of children? According to California and other states, not well.
California and 32 other states are suing Instagram’s parent company, Meta, saying that their apps are damaging to children. Is there evidence for those claims? Here’s why social media is under attack.

The Dark Mind Behind ‘Engagement’

Rene Girard taught Peter Thiel, the billionaire VC who bankrolled Facebook, that people are driven to imitate each other and move in packs. His mentor meant it as a deadly warning, but Thiel took it as an opportunity to hypnotize a generation.

Desire and Addiction on Facebook

Rene Girard, 'the godfather of the Like button.'
Harper’s magazine reviews a posthumous collection by Rene Girard, who was Peter Thiel’s professor at Stanford, and is called “the godfather of the Like button.”

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Recent Local News

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• Deadlines Loom as Tracy Strives to Complete Housing Plan

A four-hour discussion showed that the city still has a complex process ahead of it to create a plan for how new housing should develop in Tracy.

(11/03/2023) → Tracy Press

• Young Announces Run for County Supervisor

Tracy Mayor Nancy Young has declared her next run for elected office, gathering supporters to talk about her campaign for San Joaquin County’s Fifth District supervisorial seat.

(11/03/2023) → Tracy Press

• Site 300 Superfund Status Due for Update

The U.S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration has initiated the second five-year review of its environmental cleanup of two groundwater plumes at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300, located along Corral Hollow Road between Livermore and Tracy.

(11/03/2023) → Tracy Press

• Summit Tackles Water Challenges Facing California

At the Water Education Foundation annual water summit in Sacramento, Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director of the California State Water Resources Control Board, discussed what he described as the state’s “antiquated” water rights system.

(11/02/2023) → Daily Democrat

• Ripon Rotary Donates Toward Purchase of New Police Drone

The Ripon Police Department is looking at adding another drone. The unmanned aircraft system is used by local police, providing situational awareness and additional information as an eye in the sky.

(11/02/2023) → Read the full Manteca Bulletin report

• Opinion: The Smearing of Harry Black

The hatchet job on Stockton’s city manager is a civic sickness. As is the failure of leaders and the media to call it out.

(11/01/2023) → Stocktonia

• Bill Focuses on Drought Protection for Farmers

U.S. Representatives Josh Harder of California and Tracey Mann of Kansas have introduced bipartisan legislation to protect farmers from the devastating effects of drought.

(11/01/2023) → Read the full Escalon Times report
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Recent Statewide News

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• UC Irvine-Led Science Team Shows How to Eat Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis

In a study published in Nature Sustainability, scientists assessed the potential for wide-scale synthetic production of dietary fats. The raw materials are the same as those used by plants: hydrogen in water and carbon dioxide in the air.

(11/06/2023) → YubaNet

• A Proposed Development Might Threaten California’s Oldest Tree

A shrubby Palmer oak tree in Riverside County is around 13,000 years old, making it California’s oldest tree and one of the longest-lived organisms on earth. Some people are concerned that a proposed development could threaten the tree.

(11/06/2023) → Los Angeles Times

• Newsom Taking New Approach to California’s 10,000 Homeless Veterans

California’s population of homeless veterans has plateaued despite billions of dollars in state spending to create housing for former service members. Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to shift resources to focus on veterans with serious mental health conditions.

(11/05/2023) → CalMatters

• What a Theme Park Giant Merger Means for California

Two theme park giants, Six Flags and Cedar Fair, announced they are merging. It could have potential impacts on California theme parks like Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

(11/05/2023) → SFGate

• UC Berkeley to Relinquish More Than 4,000 Ancestral Remains

Tribes like the Muwekma Ohlone have been asking UC Berkeley for decades to give back ancestral remains from burial sites around the Bay Area. The school is in the process of repatriating 4,400 remains and 25,000 tribal items.

(11/03/2023) → ProPublica

• Lakes Are Reappearing in Death Valley

California's Death Valley is Earth’s hottest place and North America’s driest place. Intense rains, though, are causing lakes to briefly reappear.

(11/03/2023) → Newsweek

• Open Enrollment for Covered California Runs Nov. 1 to Jan. 31

It’s that time of the year again when people can get health insurance through Covered California. Here’s more information on how to apply.

(11/03/2023) → Sacramento Bee

• America’s Low-Carbon Transition Could Improve Employment Opportunities for All

The USA is likely to see consistent job growth from the transition to net zero, but the gains will be unevenly distributed, shows a new analysis conducted by Imperial College London researchers and published in Nature Climate Change.

(11/03/2023) → YubaNet

• Tech Layoffs Continuing in California

Four technology companies, including Google, have announced they're laying off close to 1,700 workers in California. This follows tech layoffs that have been underway since last year.

(11/02/2023) → San Francisco Chronicle

• Schiff Gets Endorsement From CA Assembly Speaker in U.S. Senate Race

California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas has endorsed Rep. Adam Schiff in a crowded U.S. Senate race. Other candidates include representatives Barbara Lee and Katie Porter.

(11/02/2023) → Los Angeles Times

• Australian Wine Conglomerate Spends $900 Million for Daou Vineyards

The acquisition includes the Daou brand, Daou Mountain Estate, four luxury wineries, and around 400 acres of vineyards in Adelaida District of Paso Robles in San Luis Obispo County.

(11/01/2023) → San Joaquin Valley Sun

• A Big Year of Snow in California Was Horrific for Endangered Sheep

Researchers tell LAist that half of California’s population of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, which are endangered, died last winter due to record weather. Causes of death include avalanches, starvation and getting eaten by mountain lions after moving to lower elevations for food.

(10/31/2023) → LAist

• UCLA Scientist: California’s Redwoods Might Not Last Another Century

A UCLA climate scientist says California’s redwoods might not last in their current groves for another 100 years. An effort is afoot to plant redwoods elsewhere in more potentially hospitable climates, such as the Pacific Northwest.

(10/31/2023) → New York Times
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Government Announcements

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Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (10/24/2023)
Notice of Open Public Comment Period and Hybrid Public Meeting: City of Tracy Draft Housing Element
Tracy, Calif. – The City of Tracy Draft Housing Element is now available for public review and comment through November 6, 2023. Physical copies of the Draft Housing Element are available at Tracy City Hall (333 Civic Center Plaza) and the Tracy...
Image of City of Lodi seal. City of Lodi   (10/13/2023)
Lodi Energy Center Hydrogen Project
Lodi Energy Center Hydrogen Project Part of Proposal Awarded Hydrogen Hub Funding By U.S. Department of Energy
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (10/11/2023)
Draft Housing Public Comment Period Open Through 11/6/23
Image of City of Tracy seal. City of Tracy   (10/02/2023)
2023 Restaurant & Retail Survey Results
The results are in! Over 900 of you participated in our 2023 Restaurant & Retail Survey to let us know what dining, shopping, and entertainment options are most-wanted here in Tracy. The winners are… Top Dining Picks : The...
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Upcoming Government Meetings

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Event sponsor logo City of Lodi / Youth Commission
Monday November 13 2023   7:00 PM