A special set of editorials published in today’s issue of the journal Science argue that social media in its current form may well be fundamentally broken for the purposes of presenting and disseminating facts and reason. The algorithms are running the show now, they argue, and the systems priorities are unfortunately backwards.
In an incisive (and free to read) opinion piece by Dominique Brossard and Dietram Scheufele of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the basic disconnect with what scientists need and what social media platforms provide is convincingly laid out.
“Rules of scientific discourse and the systematic, objective, and transparent evaluation of evidence are fundamentally at odds with the realities of debates in most online spaces,” they write. “It is debatable whether social media platforms that are designed to monetize outrage and disagreement among users are the most productive channel for convincing skeptical publics that settled science about climate change or vaccines is