Can We Build Social Media that’s Good for Society?

MIT Center for Civic Media logo
Monday, December 2, 2019 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Integrative Learning Center Communication Hub, 3rd Floor | UMass Amherst

The tech backlash is in full force, and it's rapidly becoming conventional wisdom that social media is polarizing our politics, abusing our attention, misinforming our democracy and damaging our emotional health. But the situation is far more complex than it seems at first glance. Some of these critiques are not well supported by research. And those that are true apply to a particular model of social media, based around surveillant advertising and an endless quest for human attention. What would it mean to build social media expressly designed to strengthen democratic society? Can we imagine an alternative system where public service digital media overcomes some of the thorniest problems of our contemporary online world?

A reception for attendees will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Integrated Learning Center.

This event is presented by the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) and the College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS).


Ethan Zuckerman is Director of the Center for Civic Media, Associate Professor of the Practice at the MIT Media Lab, Cofounder of the citizen media community, Global Voices, and the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection. Prior to MIT, Ethan worked with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University on projects focused on civic media, freedom of speech online, and understanding media ecosystems. He led a team focused on Media Cloud, a project that continues to build an archive of news stories and blog posts in order to apply language processing and present ways to analyze and visualize the resulting data. Zuckerman also founded Geekcorp, a non-profit technology volunteer corps that has done work in over a dozen countries, and helped to found Tripod, an early participatory media company.