48 minutes | Feb 9th 2021

Can Democracy Survive the Internet? Nate Persily and Josh Tucker on Social Media and Democracy

A complete transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Over the past ten years social media has reshaped politics. Fake news and political disinformation have become a part of the political discourse. But social media has also brought about meaningful change through the #metoo and #blacklivesmatter movements. 

Social media has allowed dissident voices to express themselves in authoritarian regimes, but it has also given a platform to anti-democratic views in Western Nations. It has reawakened our sense of fairness, while it has brought to light some of our darkest demons. In the final analysis, social media is both a problem and an opportunity. And your outlook probably depends on the last headline you saw on Twitter or Facebook. 

Nate Persily and Josh Tucker are at the forefront of conversations on the role of social media in politics and its influence on democracy. Nate is a professor of law at Stanford, but also has a PhD in political science. He has long been an expert in election law, but has also become among the foremost scholars on the politics of social media and the internet. Among his many roles, he is the co-director of the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. 

Josh is a professor of political science at NYU. He specializes in post-communist politics and is the Director of NYU’s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia. But he is also a faculty director at the Center for Social Media and Politics. 

Together Nate and Josh edited a volume called Social Media and Democracy: The State of the Field and Prospects for Reform. It is available to download on the Cambridge University Press website. I highly encourage policymakers, researchers, and anyone who is curious to take a look. It features important contributions from well-known scholars such as Francis Fukuyama and Pablo Barberá on a wide range of relevant topics. 

In this conversation you will learn why Nate and Josh are at the forefront of research on social media. They rattle off multiple studies their teams conducted that produced groundbreaking research. Now, I have read many articles about the ways social media influences politics, but this is my first podcast where I really grapple with the challenges of the internet. I was fortunate to do so with two of the field’s most important researchers today.

Key Links

"Can Democracy Survive the Internet?"

"From Liberation to Turmoil"

Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election and Beyond

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