When It Comes To Politics, The Internet Is Closing Our Minds

Next Debate Previous Debate
Internet Politics

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Does the internet poison politics? It’s been argued that the rise of “personalization,” the use of algorithms to filter what you see online, and easy access to the like-minded, have served to reinforce our pre-conceptions. Is the information bubble a myth, or is it undermining civic discourse? Is the rise of social media really broadening our world views, or narrowing them?

  • For the motion

    For

    Eli Pariser

    Author of The Filter Bubble & former MoveOn.org Board President

  • For the motion

    For

    Siva Vaidhyanathan

    Chair, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia & Author of The Googlization of Everything

  • Against the motion

    Against

    Evgeny Morozov

    Internet Scholar and Author, The Net Delusion

  • Against the Motion

    Against

    Jacob Weisberg

    Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group

  • Moderator Image

    Moderator

    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

More about the Panelists
See Results See Full Debate Video Purchase DVD Read Transcript
Listen to the edited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the unedited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Subscribe to the Podcast
Pariser

For The Motion

Eli Pariser

Author of The Filter Bubble & former MoveOn.org Board President

Eli Pariser is the former executive director of MoveOn.org, which at five million members is one of the largest citizens' organizations in American politics, and now sits on the board. He's currently the CEO of Upworthy.com, a new site focused on spreading ideas that matter online. In his renowned book The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding from You, Pariser reveals how personalization undermines the Internet's original purpose as an open platform for the spread of ideas.

Learn more
Siva Vaidhyanathan

For The Motion

Siva Vaidhyanathan

Chair, Department of Media Studies, University of Virginia & Author of The Googlization of Everything.

A cultural historian and media scholar, Siva Vaidhyanathan is currently the Robertson Professor and the Chair of the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. He also teaches at the University of Virginia School of Law. The author of The Googlization of Everything and Why We Should Worry, Vaidhyanathan is a frequent contributor to the American Scholar, The Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Slate and The Nation. Named “one of academe’s best-known scholars of intellectual property and its role in contemporary culture” by the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vaidhyanathan has testified as an expert before the U.S. Copyright Office on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Learn more
Morozo

Against The Motion

Evgeny Morozov

Internet Scholar and Author, The Net Delusion

Evgeny Morozov is the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Morozov is currently a visiting scholar in the Liberation Technology program at Stanford University and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation. He was formerly a Yahoo! fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University and a fellow at George Soros's Open Society Foundations, where he also served on the board of the Information Program. Before moving to the US, Morozov was Director of New Media at Transitions Online, a Prague-based media development NGO active in 29 countries of the former Soviet bloc. He's written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Slate, The New Republic and other publications.

Learn more
Weisberg

Against The Motion

Jacob Weisberg

Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group

Jacob Weisberg is the Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group, a division of The Washington Post Company. A native of Chicago, he attended Yale University and New College, Oxford. From 1989 until 1994, he worked as a writer and editor at The New Republic. Between 1994 and 1996, he wrote the National Interest column for New York Magazine. In the fall of 1996, he joined Slate as Chief Political Correspondent. He succeeded Michael Kinsley as editor of Slate in 2002. He has also been a Contributing Writer for The New York Times Magazine, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and a reporter for Newsweek in London and Washington, and a weekly columnist for the Financial Times. In 2007, Min Magazine named him Web Editor of the Year.

Learn more

Declared Winner: For The Motion

Online Voting

About This Event

Event Photos

PrevNext Arrows
    PrevNext Arrows

    8 comments

    • Comment Link zscores Sunday, 23 March 2014 23:58 posted by zscores

      A remark that captured the debate contrasted " one who seeks information to discover the reality or to discover how one feels about it". Outside of that box, the internet is a tool and tools can be manipulated and misused. Not the tools fault. Inside that box, a person who seeks validation is usually not fact finding and disinterested in reality. An he will construct his internet search that way. Did the internet close that persons mind or was it closed to begin with? Q: Are people the tool of the government or is government a tool of the people? If your answer has more adjectives than nouns or verbs, you may have a closed mind to begin with.

    • Comment Link Michael Oghia Sunday, 13 October 2013 08:24 posted by Michael Oghia

      The two gentleman arguing for the motion are making an incredibly problematic assumption: that individuals will only look for or click on information that is presented. It's problematic because it bypasses one of the Internet's strongest advantage and that is you are your own gatekeeper. If you see only one-sided links on Google, all you have to do is search for alternative views or alternative sources. And if you say that's easier said than done, I say that's the point of education. Specifically, digital media literacy education. People need to be informed about how the Internet is constructed and presented, and properly equipped to use it. Signing onto a computer or mobile phone and opening a browser to Google something is not the end-all of using the Internet.

    • Comment Link Rachel Sunday, 20 January 2013 05:14 posted by Rachel

      To respond to Austin's point, the problem is how search algorithms or social media filters define what is interesting and relevant. If my searches on a particular topic only turn up results that agree with my perspective (deemed most interesting to me based on past search behavior, location, what Facebook posts I have "liked," etc.) then I may come away from my search feeling justified without knowing that there are other points of view or other pieces of evidence contrary to my perspective. By personalizing what information comes up, these sites may actually be preventing us from being well informed.

    • Comment Link Austin Baker Tuesday, 02 October 2012 18:30 posted by Austin Baker

      The only thing that personalized ads and search results are meant to do are, provide the user with information that they might find most interesting or relevant first. It isn't stopping you from finding other points of view or new information. It shouldn't be the internets responsibility to keep everyone open minded, just well informed.

    • Comment Link Edward Tomchin Friday, 14 September 2012 22:37 posted by Edward Tomchin

      All I caught was the tail end of the debate and I was very disappointed with the results. I'm an investigative journalist and I have always been able to find out everything I need and want on the Internet. Anyone who is experiencing a closed mind can blame in on themselves, not the Internet.

    • Comment Link Charles Gross Friday, 17 August 2012 11:18 posted by Charles Gross

      A litmus test for a valid political debate is to have A state B's position accurately and without bias, and vice-versa. If A or B cannot, or will not, do this, there is no point to further discussion.

    • Comment Link Richard Blackmore Monday, 30 July 2012 23:48 posted by Richard Blackmore

      odd, that this debate is on the internet. To some extent that in and of itself speaks somehwhat in oposition to the resolution

    • Comment Link r Monday, 09 July 2012 23:54 posted by r

      The internet cannot find truth for you, you must ask critical questions to separate the peanuts from the pooh. The biggest question, Who provided the information and how do they make their money?

    Leave a comment

    Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.