Because I don't have enough books: Yochai Benklers Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics is, in his own words, the most comprehensive, booklength study of propaganda and misinformation in the media, which supposedly led to our awesome new world. They conclude that it's mainly hyperpartisan offline-media (Fox News, Talk Radio) and their hyperprofitable businessmodel that generated polarization, not new technologies or social media.
I'd still ask if competition between different media-environments (online-media and talk radio) led to increasingly hyperbole use of language in both environments. And I still wonder why, if thats the case, with talk radio and Fox News being a uniquely american phenomenon, is polarization and viral outrage happening worldwide from Myanmar to Paris to Washington with social media being the only common factor? And is it the only common factor? Maybe this book offers an answer to these questions.
Here's a short presentation at the Cato Think Tank:
The internet and social media were supposed to radically democratize news and information—yet many observers now worry that they are undermining the preconditions for healthy democracies. Misinformation peddled by conspiracy theorists, unscrupulous clickbaiters, and even intelligence agencies spreads around the globe at the speed of light, while in the United States, citizens increasingly retreat into distinct media ecosystems so divergent as to be mutually unrecognizable. Can liberal democracy function in a world in which voters no longer inhabit the same universe of facts?
Is social media destroying democracy? Are Russian propaganda or "Fake news" entrepreneurs on Facebook undermining our sense of a shared reality? A conventional wisdom has emerged since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 that new technologies and their manipulation by foreign actors played a decisive role in his victory and are responsible for the sense of a "post-truth" moment in which disinformation and propaganda thrives.
Network Propaganda challenges that received wisdom through the most comprehensive study yet published on media coverage of American presidential politics from the start of the election cycle in April 2015 to the one year anniversary of the Trump presidency. Analysing millions of news stories together with Twitter and Facebook shares, broadcast television and YouTube, the book provides a comprehensive overview of the architecture of contemporary American political communications. Through data analysis and detailed qualitative case studies of coverage of immigration, Clinton scandals, and the Trump Russia investigation, the book finds that the right-wing media ecosystem operates fundamentally differently than the rest of the media environment.
The authors argue that longstanding institutional, political, and cultural patterns in American politics interacted with technological change since the 1970s to create a propaganda feedback loop in American conservative media. This dynamic has marginalized centre-right media and politicians, radicalized the right wing ecosystem, and rendered it susceptible to propaganda efforts, foreign and domestic. For readers outside the United States, the book offers a new perspective and methods for diagnosing the sources of, and potential solutions for, the perceived global crisis of democratic politics.