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Facebook Made Me Do It: Social Media and Democracy | The Alliance Series

Social media platforms recently came under scrutiny after they failed to prevent the creation of fake accounts aimed at manipulating the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. The impact of social media on democracy and public debate is felt in many other ways: today’s algorithms, for instance, tend to encourage the spread of emotionally charged opinions, and create rabbit holes of converging viewpoints rather that exposing us to conflicting perspectives; the most extreme views or those that express moral outrage also tend to gain more traction than moderate and balanced opinions. At the same time, social media have provided new platforms for democratic debate, encouraging a broader range of individuals to engage in political dialogue, and have made a diversity of channels available to users on which they can express themselves.

This conversation on social media and democracy between Joan Donovan, Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Harvard Kennedy School and Célia Zolynski and Judith Rochfeld, Law Professors from Paris I Sorbonne, is presented as part of the Alliance Series at Albertine.


Joan Donovan is Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She conducts action research with different networked social movements to map and improve communication infrastructures by identifying information bottlenecks, decoding algorithmic behavior, and connecting organizations with other like-minded networks. At Data and Society, she is the project lead on media manipulation.

Célia Zolynski is a Law Professor at the University Paris I, Sorbonne. She is the author of several works on information and digital technology including Pratique du droit de l’informatique et du numérique and Le Cloud computing : l’informatique en nuage.

Judith Rochfeld is a Professor of Law at The University of Paris I, Sorbonne, where she heads the master in E-commerce and digital Economy. Rochfeld is the author of a book on Civil Law Les grandes notions du droit privé, and co-author of works on the digital economy Les nouveaux défis du commerce électronique, A qui profite le clic ? Le partage de la valeur à l’ère numérique.


This event is part of the Albertine Alliance Series, a program of conversations between top French and American thinkers on how the digital revolution is changing fundamental freedoms at the heart of our democracies. Topics will include freedom of the press, digital privacy, artificial intelligence, and the impact of digital advances on our individual liberty. 

The series is co-presented by Albertine Books and Alliance.

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