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Special Project

Special Project
From the 11th Annual Shorty Awards

The Dark Side of Tech

Audience Honor in News & Media


When big tech breaks things and asks questions later, it affects everyone. AJ+ looked into what's broken and how to fix it. Ahmed Shihab-Eldin investigates facial recognition at the border, meets men struggling with addiction at a gaming rehab, looks into the harassment women face online, interviews current and former Facebook employees and travels to a Macedonian fake news farm.

Strategy and Execution

AJ+ explored four major stories: fake news on Facebook, gaming addiction, online harassment and facial recognition. We traveled to Macedonia to shed light on how fake news producers there are preparing to cash in on the next U.S. elections and how social media platforms like Facebook are responding to the threat. We went to an internet addiction rehab and talked to experts about apps we use every day that are designed to habituate people to more screen time. We investigated the targeted harassment women face online and how it can become all too real. Finally, we traveled to the Mexico-US border as Trump vows to complete a US biometric entry-exit system.


Each episode of the dark side of technology brought something entirely new to viewers. In Macedonia, we heard that Facebook ads actually cost less for those promoting stories about Trump than stories promoting Hillary Clinton during the run-up to the election. We found that online harassment has also become a major part of the power and control of domestic violence. In our piece about screen addiction, we talked to industry insiders who spoke openly about how to habituate people more effectively. Finally, our last piece showed the dangers of using facial recognition in policing.


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