The Sunday Show: Can social media help depolarize society?

Justin Hendrix / Aug 1, 2021

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This week's podcast features two interviews. The first is with Albert Fox Cahn, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project's (S.T.O.P.) founder and executive director, about a column he wrote in Wired about problems with the twitter verification process that disadvantage activists. And second, I talk with Jonathan Stray, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Human Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California at Berkeley, about whether social media can help depolarize society.

In May, Twitter relaunched its verification program and offered more clarification about how the process works following criticism and missteps, such as verifying fake accounts. I spoke to Albert Fox Cahn about the holes in the program, and how they affect journalists and activists.

There is an active debate about the conditions in which and the extent to which social media plays a role in contributing to polarization and division in society. I spoke to Jonathan Stray about his new paper, Designing Recommender Systems to Depolarize, which turns that debate on its head- asking whether social media platforms could play a role in reducing division. Jonathan’s paper “examines algorithmic depolarization interventions with the goal of conflict transformation: not suppressing or eliminating conflict but moving towards more constructive conflict.”


Justin Hendrix
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & ...