Ed Mignon Distinguished Lecture: ANTISOCIAL MEDIA – How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy, May 16

ANTISOCIAL MEDIA – How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy

Thursday May 16, 2019
Ethnic and Cultural Center, 3931 Brooklyn Ave. NE
4:30-5:30 pm Lecture
5:30-6:30 pm Reception

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 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.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. His books include “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy;” “Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction;” and “The Googlization of Everything — and Why We Should Worry.”

The Ed Mignon Distinguished Lectureship is named after UW Information School alumnus and former faculty member Dr. Edmond Mignon. It is made possible by a gift from his wife, Molly Mignon.

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