Ed Mignon Distinguished Lecture: Siva Vaidhyanathan
7th annual Ed Mignon Distinguished Lecture with Siva Vaidhyanathan
"Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects People and Undermines Democracy"
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.
Facebook grew out of an ideological commitment to data-driven decision making and logical thinking. Its culture is explicitly cosmopolitan and tolerant of difference and dissent. Both its market orientation and its labor force are global. Facebook also indulges a strong missionary bent, one that preaches the power of connectivity and the spread of knowledge to empower people to change their lives for the better.
No company better represents the dream of a fully connected planet “sharing” words, ideas, images, and plans. No company has better leveraged those ideas into wealth and influence. No company has contributed more to the global collapse of basic tenets of deliberation and democracy.
How did the mission go so wrong? Facebook’s leaders believed that good intentions were enough, and that blind faith in technology could generate a better world.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is the Robertson Professor of Media Studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. His books include “Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy;” “Intellectual Property: A Very Short Introduction;” and “The Googlization of Everything — and Why We Should Worry.”
The Ed Mignon Distinguished Lecture in Information Science is named for an alumnus and former faculty member of what is now the iSchool. He passed away in January 2012. The lectureship is made possible by a gift from Molly Mignon, wife of Ed Mignon. The purpose of the fund is to provide support for an annual lecture by a distinguished speaker on a topic of interest in the field of information science. Speaker topics may be related to current events, policies, controversies, or issues in the information and technology fields. Our goal is to inspire original thinking and foster creativity among students, faculty and researchers at the Information School.
4:30-5:30 p.m., Lecture
5:30-6:30 p.m., Reception