Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing

Christopher A. Bail. Princeton Univ, $24.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-691-20342-3
Sociologist Bail (Terrified), the director of Duke University’s Polarization Lab, examines how social media fuels political extremism by “distort[ing] people’s understanding of themselves and others” in this brisk, data-driven account. Bail contends that Facebook and Twitter, among other platforms, empower extremists on the right and the left by improving their social status, which leads to the silencing of moderate voices who fear retribution for posting anything political, and gives people a warped sense of those who disagree with them on such issues as gun control and immigration. Fears of social media echo chambers are overblown, Bail argues, citing evidence that polarization actually increases when people are exposed to other viewpoints. He also contends that Russian internet trolls had less impact on public opinion during the 2016 presidential election than is commonly believed, draws on extensive interviews with social media users to explore the profound differences between people’s online and real-life personas, and lucidly details his own efforts to develop a new social media platform that cultivates more civil discourse. This is a persuasive and well-informed look at one of today’s most pressing social issues. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/28/2021
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-691-21650-8
Show other formats
Discover what to read next