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The internet was supposed to be the ultimate democratization tool. Social media platforms, for example, enable everyone to share their opinions freely and participate in public debates. Yet these platforms have become venues for hate speech and the spreading of sensational or false information. In his vision for a democracy-enhancing internet, online democracy advocate Eli Pariser believes that social media platforms ought to become more like urban public spaces to structure users’ online behavior in positive ways.


To help people solve the urgent problems of our time, online platforms need to promote constructive public discourse.

Global warming, fake news, mass migration – these are problems humans can tackle only by working together. Yet the burgeoning social media platforms that promised to bring people closer together have turned into lawless environments rife with misinformation and nasty talk.

To compensate society for the outsized influence they have over public discourse, social media platforms have a responsibility to improve that discourse. But how can tech developers design platforms that help people form meaningful connections and stimulate constructive public discourse?

Designers of social media platforms ought to take cues from social psychology and urban planning.

Social psychologists have long understood that physical spaces can influence human behavior through their design and the social norms that people...

About the Speaker

Online democracy advocate Eli Pariser is a co-founder of Upworthy. He wrote The Filter Bubble.

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