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Feb 16, 2021

Interviewer: MATTHEW BERKMAN. It is widely known that social media increases political polarization among its users, creating an environment in which mis- and disinformation can spread easily. JAIME SETTLE, author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America, argues that what is not so well understood is exactly how social media drives polarization. In her discussion with political scientist Matthew Berkman, she points to a surprising answer: it is not overt political speech that has the biggest impact, but the implicit political messages embedded in personal posts. The algorithms of platforms such as Facebook further amplify this effect. Short of abolishing social media altogether or drastically curtailing free speech, Settle suggests reforms that can help diminish the risks to our democracy. Note: This interview was conducted in December 2020, before the Capitol riot.