Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:00 PM
Hamilton Smith Hall, room 210
Event Type
Nora Draper

Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, will deliver the 2018 Holden Lecture, titled "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy."

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. Of course, none of that was part of the plan.

In Antisocial Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan explains how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging. It's an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it's an indictment of how "social media" has fostered the deterioration of democratic culture around the world, from facilitating Russian meddling in support of Trump's election to the exploitation of the platform by murderous authoritarians in Burma and the Philippines.

The Holden Lecture is supported by the John T. Holden Memorial Fund in the College of Liberal Arts, which was established in 1995 in memory of John Holden, one of the university’s outstanding teachers of political science, who served that department for 25 years, many as chair. The fund is dedicated to bringing signal scholars in the social sciences to UNH.

This lecture is free and open to the public.

2018 Holden Lecture Committee: Nora Draper, Kevin Healey, Julia Rodriguez

Contact Nora Draper
Roland H. O'Neal Assistant Professor of Communication Research and Communications Consultant, Prevention Innovations Research Center
Phone: (603) 862-1988

photo of Siva Vaidhyanathan
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