Opinion Outpost May 17


E-cigarettes: tobacco solution or menace?

Perhaps the most intriguing issue in tobacco control has been the rising popularity of e-cigarettes.

Two camps have emerged, one arguing that e-cigarettes can be a useful tool in helping smokers quit, and the other taking a more cautious approach, worried that they may be used by teenagers as a stepping stone into further tobacco use.

— Matt Cadwallader

Boston Globe


I believe that in the right hands, e-cigarettes can be an effective tool for quitting smoking, perhaps the best we currently have available.

Unfortunately, they are frequently not getting into the right hands, and I also know many smokers who carry both cigarettes and e-cigarettes around, and don’t actually cut down on tobacco.

The FDA is planning on increasing regulations on e-cigarettes, and I think this is a good idea, though not likely to solve the problem.

— Dr. Marc Siegel

Fox News


“Yessssss!” was my reaction to hearing the news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration intends to regulate e-cigarettes, hookahs, vape pens, e-pipes and other electronic nicotine delivery products. … e-cigarettes are often touted as safe alternatives to regular cigarettes, but the truth is that we don’t have a lot of data on the long-term effects of ENDS (how safe are they? what are their potential benefits vs. harms?) to address this issue fully.

— Jennifer Caudle



Facebook bias

Anonymous former employees claim to have logged instances of Facebook staff excluding content from conservative outlets. … Facebook selects news through a proprietary algorithm—and then a human makes news choices based on opaque standards. This process influences the news diet of a billion users around the globe, particularly young people.

The company should release a detailed look at its policies and standards.

— Kate Bachelder

The Wall Street Journal


Make no mistake: Facebook is not a news bureau. The object of the game is to win traffic … Its algorithms don’t just exploit the natural human failing for sensationalist novelty; they amplify and aggravate it.

A staff of sensible, thinking, human curators could compensate for runaway algorithms and the charged rhetoric they demand and inspire from us all.

— Douglas Rushkoff



Silicon Valley loves using the word algorithm to cover the word judgment, but any platform built by humans is always political. The engineers building the products want to skew them toward “quality” content, but it’s hard to determine what quality is, exactly, without making a choice influenced by values. … Facebook owes it to its billion users to be clear about how the site plans on distributing news.

— Nellie Bowles

The Guardian


Apparently, some Facebook users had believed that a magic and unbiased algorithm made these choices on merit and pushed out links so we could have something to discuss on the train ride to work. Facebook execs deny any institutional bias, in that no one wrote it into an employee manual.

If care about understanding the news, and you’re a careful consumer, you have places you trust to give you quality and a fair shake — and those you know probably won’t.

— Mike Hashimoto

The Dallas Morning News

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