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13th Annual Conference | March 4-7, 2018 | Austin, Texas & Online

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Wednesday, March 7 • 10:30am - 11:30am
Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy

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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. Of course, none of that was part of the plan. This is the story of how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging.  It’s an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it’s an indictment of how “social media” has fostered the deterioration of democratic and intellectual culture around the world. Facebook grew out of an ideological commitment to data-driven decision making and logical thinking. Its culture is explicitly cosmopolitan and tolerant of difference and dissent. Both its market orientation and its labor force are global. Facebook also indulges a strong missionary bent, one that preaches the power of connectivity and 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. No company has contributed more to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy. How did the mission go so wrong? Facebook’s leaders believed that good intentions were enough, and that blind faith in technology could generate a better world.

Speakers
avatar for Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Robertson Professor of Media Studies / Director, Center for Media & Citizenship at the University of Virginia
Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction from Oxford University Press, published in 2017, and The Googlization... Read More →


Wednesday March 7, 2018 10:30am - 11:30am
Salon 4
  • Online Conference Live

Attendees (259)