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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

What it means to have a community has changed dramatically over the last two decades. In the latest episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, host Reid Hoffman discusses where things stood in 1997, when he was founding an early social media company:

"The idea with SocialNet was that the online community was important, but what most mattered was local community, was the people that you actually spent time with around you, that you could touch, the tactile experience of the people you're going through life together."

Why it matters: Where community was once tied to your geographic location and the people around you, the internet and the rise of social networks broadened that definition to include any group with a shared interest, writes media trends reporter Sara Fischer.

The value of these communities is clear in cases where geographically dispersed people share a problem or cause, like those dealing with rare forms of cancer, immigrants acclimating to a new country, and mothers in need of breast milk to keep their kids healthy.

  • Yes, but: Virtual communities based on shared interests can have dark sides, too, particularly when it comes to politics. Social media users often self-select into groups with similar points of view, creating so-called filter bubbles that can increase polarization and discourage civil discourse.

To Hoffman's point, the web has also created more opportunities for people to connect with those people physically close to them through geo-targeted event postings, recommendations and groups catering to those with a shared interest within the same town or city.

Be smart: Despite all the opportunities to connect with others digitally, people across age groups ultimately crave in-person interactions, according to a recent SurveyMonkey poll for "Axios on HBO".

Expand chart
Data: SurveyMonkey poll conducted Nov. 9 to 13 among 1,820 U.S. adults. Total margin of error is ±3 percentage points. Modeled error estimates: Ages 18–34 ±6, Ages 35–46 ±4, Ages 65+ ±7. Survey methodology. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Go deeper: Listen to the full episode of the Masters of Scale podcast.

Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - World

HRW: Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

4 hours ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.