Social Media and Democracy
Advances in technology and the rise of the Internet are upsetting the longstanding western political balance. Democracies around the world face growing threats from demagogues and populists who use social media to spread xenophobia, misinformation, and fear in furtherance of their agendas. The news media find their traditional role as a source of reliable information and a forum for reasoned debate diminished by changing business models and consumer preferences. And autocratic regimes exploit global information networks to undermine and disrupt democratic institutions. This project will undertake a program of research that will provide an empirical and algorithmic base for policy innovations to preserve democratic institutions in the face of these new challenges. It will work in conjunction with the new Global Digital Policy Incubator (GDPi) at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law by producing a series of studies about both the nature of digital threats to democratic institutions, as well as comparative analysis of existing and emerging responses to this challenge. It will also leverage the school of engineering to explore technological responses where appropriate.