Summary of What Facebook Did to American Democracy

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While US congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections continue to unfold, journalists are starting to piece together the role Facebook played. The social media giant may inadvertently have helped Donald Trump to his surprise victory. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who initially dismissed suggestions that Facebook influenced the elections as “crazy,” has now acknowledged the platform’s role in spreading misinformation. Writing for The Atlantic, reporter Alexis C. Madrigal traces Facebook’s rise as the dominant media distributor and its growing impact on electoral politics. getAbstract recommends this article to citizens in democratic countries, who are wondering how a social networking site can turn into an engine of deception and propaganda

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Facebook became a dominant media distributor,
  • Why the Facebook platform is well suited to the dissemination of misinformation and
  • How Russia could influence voters while remaining undetected.
 

About the Author

Alexis C. Madrigal is a staff writer at The Atlantic

 

Summary

Observers have long suspected that Facebook has the power to sway electoral politics. The social networking site’s News Feed personalizes the information each user sees, based on the user’s past activities – the kind of stories shared, liked or commented on. In 2011, author Eli Pariser coined the term “filter bubble,” warning that exposing social media users only to the information and political viewpoints they like will have an adverse effect on social discourse. Moreover, with Facebook enabling advertisers to target audiences selectively based on features such as voting districts or demographics, people on the outside could remain unaware of the very existence of these ads.


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