Agree:

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Jonathan Zittrain Internet Law Professor at Harvard Law School

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.
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Samidh Facebook civic engagement chief

I am not blind to the damage that the internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy.
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Alexis C. Madrigal Writer at The Atlantic

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
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Omidyar Network 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.
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Michael Clemens Senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington D.C.-based think tank

We wanted democracy, but we got mobocracy
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Charlie Beckett Media Professor at London School of Economics, founding director of think tank POLIS

That the Internet is innately democratic and that it will have revolutionary political consequences [is] a straw man
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Stevan Dojcinovic Editor in chief of KRIK, independent Serbian news website

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
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Joshua Tucker Professor of Politics, New York University

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
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Kaitlyn Buss Editorial writer at The Detroit News

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.
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Mark Epstein Antitrust attorney and freelance writer

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
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Freedom House 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
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Jason Tanz Site director at Wired

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
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Dan Nadir Vice President of Digital Risk at Proofpoint

People rely on social media platforms to communicate with each other, conduct business and form opinions, but the Internet wasn't designed with trust in mind.
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Vyacheslav Polonski Network scientist, University of Oxford

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.

Disagree:

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Richard Stengel US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

With people communicating horizontally, the trend line toward increasing freedom and democracy is there
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Sam Greene 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
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