Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing

Author(s): Christopher A. Bail

Critical Thinking

A revealing look at how user behaviour is powering deep social divisions online — and how we might yet defeat political tribalism on social mediaIn an era of increasing social isolation, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are among the most important tools we have to understand each other. We use social media as a mirror to decipher our place in society but, as Chris Bail explains, it functions more like a prism that distorts our identities, empowers status-seeking extremists, and renders moderates all but invisible. Breaking the Social Media Prism challenges common myths about echo chambers, foreign misinformation campaigns, and radicalising algorithms, revealing that the solution to political tribalism lies deep inside ourselves.Drawing on innovative online experiments and in-depth interviews with social media users from across the political spectrum, this book explains why stepping outside of our echo chambers can make us more polarised, not less. Bail takes you inside the minds of online extremists through vivid narratives that trace their lives on the platforms and off — detailing how they dominate public discourse at the expense of the moderate majority. Wherever you stand on the spectrum of user behaviour and political opinion, he offers fresh solutions to counter political tribalism from the bottom up and the top down. He introduces new apps and bots to help readers avoid misperceptions and engage in better conversations with the other side. Finally, he explores what the virtual public square might look like if we could hit 'reset' and redesign social media from scratch through a first-of-its-kind experiment on a new social media platform built for scientific research.Providing data-driven recommendations for strengthening our social media connections, Breaking the Social Media Prism shows how to combat online polarisation without deleting our accounts.'In this important and accessible book, Chris Bail shows that if you want to understand what's going on online, don't focus on people's exposure to information. Keep your eye on their quest for status and group identity. The book is rich with insights for anyone who uses social media and is essential reading for anyone who wants to improve our democracy.' — Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion'In this brilliant book, Chris Bail — one of the world's leading computational social scientists — brings deep sociological knowledge, cutting-edge research, and profound empathy to one of society's most vexing problems: the increasingly polarised and uncivil nature of political discussion. Engagingly written and brimming with insight, Breaking the Social Media Prism is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand how we got here and how we might escape.' —Duncan J. Watts, author of Everything Is Obvious


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780691226378
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : Princeton University Press
  • : April 2021
  • : ---length:- '21.6'width:- '14'units:- Centimeters
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Christopher A. Bail
  • : Paperback