The rise of social media has led to an age of division and the spread of misinformation, argues The Economist. The 2016 US presidential election was influenced by Russian-sponsored propaganda on the internet. Societies are becoming more heavily polarized as constructive dialogue in the political middle is becoming less and less popular. Social media is designed to offer an echo chamber, a place of comfort and information that supports already-held beliefs. The ease that any entity has in putting out a version of the truth that they want to spread has widened rifts and made people embattled. Our democracy is suffering from social media.
Social media has given humanity a new avenue of communication and education that enforces democracy, suggests Pierre Omidyar of The Huffington Post. Particularly in more repressive parts of the world, it has allowed citizens to go beyond state-controlled media and talk to each other freely. The spread of information that social media has enabled is crucial in ensuring that people can better recognize what is going on and react accordingly. From getting young voters in the West engaged, to orchestrating the Arab Spring, social media has boosted democracy worldwide. It has brought us all forward and needs to be protected.