If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook.
Facebook grew out of an ideological commitment to data-driven decision-making and the power of connectivity, championing the spread of knowledge to empower people to change their lives for the better. No company better represents the dream of a fully connected planet “sharing” words, ideas, images and plans. No company has better leveraged those ideas into wealth and influence. Yet no company has contributed more to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy. How did the mission go so wrong? Author, professor and former journalist Siva Vaidhyanathan discusses this all in his latest book, “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy.”