Social media, far from enlightening the public, reinforces prejudice

Thanks to social media, opinions are confirmed, stereotypes reinforced, and the tone and quality of debate is reduced to sensational soundbites

The development of social media accounts for many of the problematic features of public life. They include a US president more addicted to tweeting messages than making measured pronouncements; terrorists, who find social media useful to plan their next attacks; demagogues keen to denigrate ‘experts’ and champion populist causes; and the torrent of personal abuse that activists can so readily unleash upon their opponents. In short, social media encourages all of the baser instincts that are inimical to healthy public debate, from fake news to an obsession with feelings, reactions and the misguided passion to share them.