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Debates

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

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  • Evgeny Morozov: Opinions of Friends Matter Most Online

    Clip: Evgeny Morozov, contributing editor to Foreign Policy and the author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, argues that our consumption of information is shaped by the opinions of the people in our social networks.

  • Eli Pariser: The Internet Is Making Us Less Informed

    Clip: Eli Pariser argues that the access to multiple avenues of global information on the internet is making users less informed about the world.

Debate Details

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?

The Debaters

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... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The personalization of the internet—the use of algorithms to filter and individualize our search results—effectively insulates us from opposing points of view, reinforcing our beliefs, and making us more close-minded.
  • Before the internet we relied on gatekeepers to filter the information we received, making sure we got what we should know along with what we wanted to know. But algorithms, unlike newspaper editors, do not adhere to a set of journalistic ethics or a sense of civic responsibility.
  • We are being pushed in the direction of passively receiving information rather than actively seeking it out.
Against The Motion
  • The effects of personalization have been overblown. Differences in search results are minor, at most, and Google, the dominant search engine in the U.S., actively works to limit personalization in its algorithms.
  • The internet has opened us up to new sources of information outside of the monopolies—three major news networks and local newspapers—we once relied on.
  • Living in an echo chamber is a choice. With so many so many news sources available, literally at our fingertips, you can't blame personalization for the narrowing of minds.

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Results

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  • Online Audience
  • Results
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Pre-Debate
Post-Debate

The Research

The Research

Social Networking Sites and Politics

Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith
March 12, 2012

The End of the Echo Chamber

Farhad Manjoo
January 17, 2012

Republic.com 2.0

Cass Sunstein remarks
September 7, 2007
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