In the wake of fake news and Russian-bought ads that proliferated the 2016 U.S. presidential election, people have started taking a more critical look at the role of social media in society. As social media companies launch new policies in the aftermath, several questions still remain, and among them, a wide-reaching topic for debate: How does social media influence a democratic society?
The question is one that Facebook has asked itself, reaching out to three different outside experts from three different continents. Many agree on several positives that social media brings to the table, including affordable access to information, voicing voter concerns, and adding another communication channel between voters and politicians. But social media has just as many pitfalls — some that are already being addressed, others that both social media companies and governments continue to examine. For users of social platforms, it is becoming increasingly important to be aware of these pitfalls.