Election 2020: Social Media and Political Polarization

THE EMERGENCE OF A DIGITAL SPHERE where public debate takes place raises profound questions about the connection between online information and polarization, echo chambers, and filter bubbles. Does the information ecosystem created by social media companies support the conditions necessary for a healthy democracy? Is it different from other media? These are particularly urgent questions as the United States approaches a contentious 2020 election during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The influence of technology and AI-curated information on America’s democratic process is being examined in the eight-week Stanford University course, “Technology and the 2020 Election: How Silicon Valley Technologies Affect Elections and Shape Democracy.” This issue brief focuses on the class session on “Echo Chambers, Filter Bubbles, and Polarization,” with guest experts Joan Donovan and Joshua Tucker.