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Despite the toxicity, former cable news anchor Greta Van Susteren is not giving up on social media

Van Susteren’s new book is a guide to social platforms for people who don’t want to “call a kid.”

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Former cable news anchor Greta Van Susteren
Greta Van Susteren, author of “Everything You Need to Know about Social Media”
Larry Busacca / Getty Images for Time and People

From trolling to election meddling to outright abuse, there are plenty of ways social media can be used for ill. But no matter what, we still will want to use it, Greta Van Susteren says.

“I’ve seen some pretty horrible things on the internet, horrible things said about me,” Van Susteren said on the latest episode of Recode Decode. “The internet’s here to stay, social media’s here to stay. We can all sit around and hate it for its nastiness. I haven’t given up. I still think it’s a wonderful research tool, there are wonderful things you can do with it. ... I’d like to flood it with better things.”

“It’s going to be an uphill battle,” she added. “Hate is a very powerful weapon. I might give up on social media if I thought it was going away, but it’s not.”

Van Susteren, who formerly anchored shows on CNN, Fox News and (briefly) MSNBC, has a new book all about social media out called “Everything You Need to Know about Social Media (Without Having to Call a Kid).” Speaking with Recode’s Kara Swisher and SKDK’s Hilary Rosen, she said the book is aimed at the over-40 set ... or the people under 40 who want to buy something so that their parents will stop asking them questions.

As one of the 45 people followed by the 45th president, Donald Trump, Van Susteren said she doesn’t see him as governing through Twitter, as some critics allege, but rather engaging with voters and picking fights. However, she’s not a fan of his tone.

“I like manners,” she said. “Once in a while, people get under my skin and I take the bait — but for the most part, I don’t. It’s just not the way I would tweet.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Van Susteren also talked about why she believes companies like Facebook and Twitter should get more proactive about controlling their platforms and not letting bad actors run away with them.

“All these social media platform companies, they want to pretend they’re the telephone company, and they can’t help it if you’re making obscene phone calls or prank calls,” she said. “They are more than that; they’re much like Drudge, they’re aggregators of news. ... They have a choice: They can either figure out a solution themselves — which would be a really good idea, because the American people are fed up — or they run the risk that Congress is going to get in their business and start regulating them.”

Part of the solution, however, will also have to come from the people who use those platforms. Van Susteren said news consumers “have to be more vigilant.”

“If you read something that seems unbelievable, chances are it is unbelievable,” she said. “A good consumer, if you’re gonna go out and buy a stereo, at least you’re going to look at Consumer Reports, in the old days. People should cross-check, look at the sources, know the sources, be an aggressive consumer of news.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts— and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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