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Why social media is so polarizing — and what we can do about it

45 minutes

In an era of increasing social isolation, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are among the most important tools we have to understand each other. We use social media as a mirror to decipher our place in society but, as Chris Bail explains, it functions more like a prism that distorts our identities, empowers status-seeking extremists, and renders moderates all but invisible. 

Bail's book, Breaking the Social Media Prism, challenges common myths about echo chambers, foreign misinformation campaigns, and radicalizing algorithms, revealing that the solution to political tribalism lies deep inside ourselves. Drawing on innovative online experiments and in-depth interviews with social media users from across the political spectrum, this book explains why stepping outside of our echo chambers can make us more polarized, not less.

 Bail is professor of sociology and public policy at Duke University, where he directs the Polarization Lab. He is the author of Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream.

Additional Information

Breaking the Social Media Prism

The Polarization Lab

Bail's website

Bail on Twitter

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A path forward for social media and democracy

Facebook is not a democracy

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