How’d I Do On Predictions Last Year?

John Battelle
12 min readJan 3, 2022

As has been my practice for nearly two decades, I penned a post full of prognostications at the end of last year. As 2021 subsequently rolled by, I stashed away news items that might prove (or disprove) those predictions — knowing that this week, I’d take a look at how I did. How’d things turn out? Let’s roll the tape…

My first prediction: Disinformation becomes the most important story of the year. At the time I wrote those words, Trump’s Big Lie was only two months old, and January 6th was just another day on the calendar. A year later, that Big Lie has spawned countless others, culminating in one of the most damaging shifts in our nation’s politics since the Civil War. The Republican party is now fully captured by bullshit, and countless numbers of local, state, and national politicians are busy undermining democracy thanks to the Big Lie’s power. A significant percentage of the US population has become unmoored from truth — and an equally significant group of us have simply thrown our hands up about it. Trust is at an all time low. This Barton Gellman piece in The Atlantic served as a wake up call late in the year — and its conclusions are terrifying: “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024,” Gellman quotes an observer stating. “But urgent action is not happening.” I’m not happy about getting this one right, but as far as I’m concerned, this is still the most important story of the year — and the most terrifying.

My next prediction: Facebook’s chickens come home to roost…2021 will be a dismal year for Facebook. Oh my, was it ever. Facebook’s year was so terrible, the company decided to change its name as a result. Because I took notes all year, here’s a brief review of Facebook’s 2021:

  • January: Facebook kicks off the year with a WhatsApp privacy disaster, sparking outrage both inside and outside the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook pounces, leveraging his bully pulpit to pummel Zuck & Co. Also in January, Facebook outsources the single most important decision it’s ever made- de-platforming a sitting President — to its “oversight board.” (PS, the Board essentially kicked the decision back to Facebook).
  • February: Facebook decides to down-rank political news, which as many pointed out, is itself a deeply political act. This does not have…
John Battelle

A Founder of The Recount, NewCo, Federated Media, sovrn Holdings, Web 2 Summit, Wired, Industry Standard; writer on Media, Technology, Culture, Business