Pop Culture: Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy by Siva Vaidhyanathan


Early on in this book the author points out, “Facebook likely has been—on balance—good for individuals. But Facebook has been—on balance—bad for all of us collectively.”

If you’ve been contemplating deleting your social media accounts, this book is for you.

Purchase your copy here.

Back Cover Copy of Antisocial Media:

If you wanted to build a machine that would distribute propaganda to millions of people, distract them from important issues, energize hatred and bigotry, erode social trust, undermine respectable journalism, foster doubts about science, and engage in massive surveillance all at once, you would make something a lot like Facebook. Of course, none of that was part of the plan. In this fully updated paperback edition of Antisocial Media, Siva Vaidhyanathan explains how Facebook devolved from an innocent social site hacked together by Harvard students into a force that, while it may make personal life just a little more pleasurable, makes democracy a lot more challenging. It’s an account of the hubris of good intentions, a missionary spirit, and an ideology that sees computer code as the universal solvent for all human problems. And it’s an indictment of how “social media” has fostered the deterioration of democratic culture around the world, from facilitating Russian meddling in support of Trump’s election to the exploitation of the platform by murderous authoritarians in Burma and the Philippines. Both authoritative and trenchant, Antisocial Media shows how Facebook’s mission went so wrong.

About Siva Vaidhyanathan:

Siva Vaidhyanathan is a cultural historian and media scholar and is a professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia. Vaidhyanathan is a frequent contributor on media and cultural issues in various periodicals including The Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times Magazine, The Nation, Slate, and The Baffler. He is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and the Institute for the Future of the Book. He directs the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia, which produces a television show, a radio program, several podcasts, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has appeared in an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss early social network services. Vaidhyanathan has appeared in several documentary films, including Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013), Inside the Mind of Google (2009), and Freedom of Expression (2007). In 2016 Vaidhyanathan played a prominent role in the higher-education documentary, Starving the Beast. Vaidhyanathan was portrayed as a character on stage at the Public Theater in New York City in a play called Privacy (2016). Vaidhyanathan serves on the board of the Digital Public Library of America.

In March 2002, Library Journal cited Vaidhyanathan among its “Movers & Shakers” in the library field. In the feature story, Vaidhyanathan lauded librarians for being “on the front lines of copyright battles” and for being “the custodians of our information and cultural commons.” In November 2004 the Chronicle of Higher Education called Vaidhyanathan “one of academe’s best-known scholars of intellectual property and its role in contemporary culture.” He has testified as an expert before the U.S. Copyright Office on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Vaidhyanathan was born in Buffalo, New York, and attended the University of Texas at Austin, earning both a B.A. in History and a Ph.D. in American Studies.

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