Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy

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According to Siva Vaidhyanathan, 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.

Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. He joined Grounds on the Go in February to discuss the social media giants contributions to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy.

“By the end of 2017, Facebook had exceeded two billion users…Anything that Facebook does, any change it makes internally, any way it presents itself to the world has to cope with that number,” Professor Vaidhyanthan warns. “That [number] should guide our judgments about what Facebook can and can’t do, or should or shouldn’t do.”

Professor Vaidyanathan is the twelfth presenter to speak at a Grounds on the Go lecture. Formed in partnership with the UVA Applied Research Institute, the series aims to bring the University of Virginia’s most prominent scholars to the Charlottesville community for lively presentations on timely topics. Previous talks have covered topics ranging from fake news, to net neutrality, and gender equality in design.

The next Grounds on the Go lecture will take place in May with James Landers, Professor of Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Virginia. Learn more and RSVP at

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