Nov 11, 2019
DEMOCRACY IN TROUBLE? Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. The ways in which Facebook pollutes public discourse are inherent and inescapable features of its business model, argues SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. In his discussion with political scientist and Mitchell Center interviewer Matthew Berkman, he attributes the platform’s malign effects to its scale, which encompasses 2.2 billion users; the perverse logic of its algorithms, by which attempts to confront hateful messages only serves to amplify them; and its advertising system, which can target and segment audiences in unprecedented ways. Above all, he points to the ways in which Facebook has crowded out other venues of expression more suitable for democratic deliberation, from public libraries to the brief flourishing of blogs on the Internet in the early 2000s. For Vaidhyanathan, the best way to deal with Facebook would be to break it up – and to do everything we can to take back our deliberative spaces.