Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy

Sarah Noel Probst


Social media, and Facebook in particular, have become such a ubiquitous and deeply imbedded part of culture that few would bother to mark their existence with more than a casual shrug. People use social media to fulfill all manner of tasks, needs, and desires, while businesses and organizations use it to reach increasingly specific segments of the population. Engaging with social media is a foregone conclusion—a swift glance around any coffee shop, university, classroom, restaurant, or nearly any other public setting is enough to validate this. In the realm of social media, Facebook is king. The platform can now boast of well over 2 billion international users that post, upload pictures and video, and interact with it hundreds of thousands of times a day. At a surface level, Facebook appears to ask nothing of people except their time, but a deeper dive into the world of likes, clicks, and shares unveils a riptide of surveillance, manipulation, disinformation, and digital imperialism. In Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy, Siva Vaidhyanathan takes a floodlight to the very roots of the platform and demonstrates with careful, piercing analysis how it has eroded one of the hallmarks of a democracy: the ability of the public to have reasoned, informed discourse.

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