For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a cha...See More
A social-media or search company looking to take the next step and attempt to create a favorable outcome in an election would certainly have the means. While a propagandistic Google doodle or similarly ideological alteration to a common home page lies in plain view, newsfeeds and search results have no baseline. They can be subtly tweaked without hazarding the same backlash.
Associate Professor at the University of Carolina, writer and techno-sociologist
Rather than a complete totalitarianism based on fear and the blocking of information, the newer methods include demonizing online media and mobilizing armies of supporters or paid employees who muddy the online waters with misinformation, information overload, doubt, confusion, harassment, and distraction
Senior Fellow at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute, political scientist
There are entire countries where Facebook Messenger has replaced email as the primary channel by which people communicate. This kind of power wielded at such a scale is unprecedented in human experience, and we need to think carefully about whether American democracy can continue to coexist with such power concentrated over the longer run.
Professor at the Harvard University, political scientist and quantitative methodologist
We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. The Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We show that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to distract the public and change subject.
Facebook’s draw is its ability to give you what you want. Like a page, get more of that page’s posts; like a story, get more stories like that; interact with a person, get more of their updates. From the system’s perspective, success is correctly predicting what you’ll like, comment on, or share. But as far as “personalized newspapers” go, this one’s editorial sensibilities are limited. Most peopl...See More
Philanthropic investment firm founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar
It is becoming increasingly apparent that fundamental principles underlying democracy—trust, informed dialogue, a shared sense of reality, mutual consent, and participation—are being put to the test by certain features and attributes of social media, [especially as] technology companies increasingly achieve financial success by monetizing public attention.
By picking small countries with shaky democratic institutions to be experimental subjects, Facebook is showing a cynical lack of concern for how its decisions affect the most vulnerable. Facebook could be a tool for such alternative spaces to thrive. Instead — at least in Serbia — it risks becoming just another playground for the powerful
This double reality of the open online world—able to give a voice to the voiceless, but also bendable toward the aims of censorship and exclusion—explains why thoughts about social media can run either to optimism or (as has been more the case recently) to pessimism when it comes to the implications for democracy. The heart of the matter is that, while freedom of information online is an inherentl...See More
Shouting online doesn’t save democracy. It threatens it by degrading some of the most necessary foundations for self-government: local engagement and strong relationships with family, friends and community.
In 2017 Google and Facebook have accounted for 84% of all digital advertising outside China, including 96% of its growth. The tech duopoly’s dominance threatens the marketplace of ideas. Beyond advertising, Google and Facebook control how millions of people find their news. Americans are far likelier, collectively, to encounter articles via search engines and social media than on a news site’s hom...See More
NGO dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world
Online manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 18 countries over the past year, including the United States. [...] The effects of these rapidly spreading techniques on democracy and civic activism are potentially devastating. The fabrication of grassroots support for government policies on social media creates a closed loop in which the regime esse...See More
Facebook built its vision of democracy on bad maths. [...] Facebook proved, thrillingly, that an algorithm can be a better judge of what someone wants to read than any human ever could. But that's not always a good thing. People tend to read, like, and share information that confirms their own biases, or stokes their anger—not necessarily information that brings them closer to citizens of all poli...See More
The biggest threat to democracy? Your social media feed. Instead of creating a digitally-mediated agora which encourages broad discussion, the internet has increased ideological segregation. It filters dissent out of our feeds and grants a disproportionate amount of clout to the most extreme opinions due to their greater visibility and accelerated viral cycles.
We'll keep working to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections around the world, and to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy. The data we have has always shown that our broader impact -- from giving people a voice to enabling candidates to communicate directly to helping millions of people vote -- played a far bigger role in this election [than mi...See More
Philanthropist. Founder and former CEO of Microsoft.
I felt sure that allowing anyone to publish information and making it easy to find would enhance democracy and the overall quality of political debate. However, the partitioning you talk about which started on cable TV and might be even stronger in the digital world is a concern. We all need to think about how to avoid this problem. It would seem strange to have to force people to look at ideas th...See More
Former Senior Innovation Advisor to Hillary Clinton, currently running for Governor of Marylan
The information control that some of the world’s strongmen and terrorist groups have on people is tenuous. The digital world is still relatively new, and for the most part, when young people come to more power, we will have more open societies. If you look at this over decades, I think it will be very positive globally
There have always been new ways of communication to contend with (for example the cassette recordings of Polish solidarity leader Lech Walesa’s speeches that were spread from factory to factory). So technology can very much be democratizing. The question is how we can use technology to increase the democratizing governance aspect instead of dealing with the fact that people often have the wrong in...See More
Director of the Russia Institute, King’s College London
Our politics are vulnerable to nefarious influences — whether of the Kremlin variety or the Breitbart variety — not because our information landscape is open and fluid, but because voters’ perceptions have become untethered from reality. For reasons that are both complex and debatable, very many voters have stopped seeing government as a tool for the production of the common good, and have instead...See More