Public political discourse in the United States has been slowly breaking down for decades. One of the ways we can measure this is through social media: more and more, Americans both unintentionally and intentionally isolate their conversations and sources of information to people and outlets that already agree with them. On platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, this isolation is inadvertently encouraged through simple mechanisms such as Liking, and the resulting engagement algorithms doing their work.
As social media companies came under fire for being platforms for misinformation and conspiracy theory, they began using techniques such as fact-checking and selective censorship to attempt to limit the spread of fake news and other disinformation. This became the last straw for some: the rise of Parler and other similar platforms show that Americans are more committed than ever to ensuring that their news and political discourse remain firmly entrenched in their own bubbles. This further fragmentation will only heighten political polarization and antipathy in the US electorate; the path out is unclear.
Join us and Erik Fogg, (MIT '09 MA in PoliSci) to discuss the future of public discourse in this era of the fragmented media landscape.
Erik Fogg is head at ReConsider Media, co-host of the ReConsider podcast, and author of Wedged: How you became a tool of the partisan Political Establishment and How to Start Thinking for Yourself Again. He's been researching and speaking about political polarization and tribalism since 2013--long before it was cool.
Erik has a masters degree in political science from MIT and has spent years working with various NGOs, Harvard, MIT, United Nations and various private advocacy groups organizations. He’s ghost-written published books. He’s now running a software startup.
Erik grew up in a very red part of Pennsylvania and moved to a very blue part of Massachusetts. Having a foot in both worlds has enabled Erik to see how both sides of the political spectrum caricature the other, and has sparked his mission to create a real dialogue that cuts through the noise.
Erik writes and podcasts from his office in suburban San Mateo, surrounded by 17th and 18th-century European art, a costume-construction toolkit and table, a VR kit, and a small bed for his unpaid intern Boston Terrier, Oscar.
Semmie is the host of the MITEF Community Stream series that launched in 2020. She works in healthcare and analytics, and has a background in neuroscience and epidemiology.