Law professor Ganesh Sitaraman explains why America has never achieved true democracy—and how it can.
- Three essential components of democracy are economic equality, social unity, and a government that acts in the interest of the people. America lacks all three of those components, says Vanderbilt University Law School Professor Ganesh Sitaraman.
- "In study after study, political scientists have shown that our government is responsive primarily to the wealthy and interest groups, not to ordinary people," says Sitaraman. "A system of government that is mostly unresponsive to the people is not a democracy at all."
- Sitaraman argues that the neoliberal era is what divided America and continues to prevent the country from realizing a true democracy. In this video, he explains the problem with neoliberalism and how a new agenda could create far better opportunities.
Psychologists W. Keith Campbell, (Ph.D.) and Carolyn Crist explain why narcissists rise to power and how to make sure your support is going to someone making effective, positive change.
- Pathological narcissism is rare. It impacts an estimated 1 percent of the population.
- Narcissism is tied closely to leadership emergence, as narcissists tend to initially be confident, charismatic, and charming. Leadership is a natural goal for narcissists because it feeds their motivational goals of status, power, and attention.
- Psychologists W. Keith Campbell, (Ph.D.) and Carolyn Crist explain why narcissists rise to power.
Why do narcissists become leaders?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9b57f7dfe6d697143730e52d749988c5"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KzoH3xox-G0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>"Leadership is a natural goal for narcissists because it feeds their motivational goals of status, power, and attention." - <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/new-science-narcissism/202010/how-narcissism-and-leadership-go-hand-in-hand" target="_blank">Psychology Today</a></p><p>Leadership can be a complex topic to discuss, as the psychology of leadership can be classified in two distinct ways: leadership emergence (the rise to power) and leadership effectiveness (what happens once the person has power). </p><p><strong>Narcissists initially appear charming and confident, making them great for leadership emergence.</strong></p><p>Narcissism is tied closely to leadership emergence, as narcissists tend to initially be confident, charismatic, and charming (then later perceived as vain or arrogant). However, narcissism may not be great for effective leadership. Once someone rises to power and gains trust, it doesn't always mean they are going to be effective at being a leader to those people. </p><p><strong>Many positions are self-elected, and narcissists will jump at this chance. </strong></p><p>Education, politics, and businesses are typically set up to allow potential leaders to self-elect and move forward with their own goals. Even when leaders are selected by committees or groups, they may be more inclined to go with a high-visibility, confident, high-profile candidate over someone who exudes leadership qualities in a more muted way. </p><p><strong>Many systems favor loud, narcissistic individuals over quiet, effective leaders.</strong></p><p>"Sometimes it feels like our systems are set up to select these narcissistic individuals," explain W. Keith Campbell, (Ph.D.) and Carolyn Crist in <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/new-science-narcissism/202010/how-narcissism-and-leadership-go-hand-in-hand" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a>. "The democratic election process can also feel like a popularity contest, where the biggest ego wins. Even this year, candidates have created polarized followings on social media."</p><p><strong>People desire a leader who promises stability and direction during challenging times.</strong></p><p>Narcissists who come to power during chaotic and difficult times often quickly gain the support of their followers because they make promises of stability and have a clear direction in mind. The problem with this is that it can lead to detrimental leaders, such as Adolf Hitler. Hitler rose to power during a time when Germany's economy was struggling to recover after the First World War, promising to rebuild and strengthen the country.</p><p><strong>Narcissistic leaders may be able to temporarily convince you everything is being handled effectively. </strong></p><p>Followers who believe their leader acts in their best interest are more likely to be happy with that leadership. When you have a leader who is repeating over and over that they are making effective, meaningful, positive changes (even if they aren't), people are more inclined to believe it. </p><p>"We've seen this over the years at many levels of the government—from the presidential suite all the way down to the local mayor's office," explains Campbell and Crist.</p><p><strong>How do we avoid electing and supporting narcissistic, ineffective leaders in the future? </strong></p><p>Campbell and Crist have a few ideas about that in their book "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/New-Science-Narcissism-Understanding-Psychological/dp/1683644026" target="_blank">The New Science of Narcissism</a>" - the main takeaway being this: <em>"Our best bet is to watch how they act and treat others and then respond accordingly when they look for the next position of power."</em></p>
The 20th century was marked by waves of pro-democracy revolutions. Now, the future of democracy looks uncertain.
- A recent paper examined the status of democracy among the world's countries.
- The paper outlines three key indicators showing that democracy is generally declining worldwide, and it lists several potential reasons for the decline.
- Surveys indicate that nearly half of U.S. citizens are dissatisfied with how democracy is playing out on the national level.
The Global Expansion of Democracy (1974-2019)
Credit: Diamond<p><strong></strong><span style="background-color: initial;"><strong>Democratic freedoms have receded: </strong></span>Four different scales that measure levels of democracy — <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/" target="_blank">Freedom House</a>, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and V-Dem's Liberal and Electoral Democracy indices — "agree that there has been a modest negative trend for the advanced Anglophone and West European democracies, a more substantial slide for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean above one million population, and erosion – but of widely varying extent – in Sub-Saharan Africa." Meanwhile, those same scales found significant improves in freedom among South Asian and former Soviet nations.</p><p><strong>Democratic breakdown has accelerated:</strong> The past five years have seen more democracies crumble than any other five-year period since the third wave of democratization began in the mid-1970s. During that same period, the number of nations that switched to democracy was the lowest it's been in decades.</p>
What explains the global democratic recession?<p>The paper notes that, while military leaders and revolutions have toppled past democracies, the past decade or so "has mainly been an era of civilian assaults on democracy." In other words, it seems as if a large share of citizens in democratic nations are — wittingly or unwittingly — supporting the erosion of democracy, at least as it currently exists.</p><p>Populist candidates, Diamond suggests, have been able to rise to power by "inflaming divisions and mobilizing the good, deserving 'people' against corrupt elites – the professional or 'deep' state and their effete, educated handmaidens in the other (liberal) political parties – as well as a host of alien threats, such as international institutions, refugees and migrants, and 'undeserving' minorities who really don't 'belong' in the country."</p><p>Noting there's no "master" explanation for the democratic recession, the paper outlines several potential contributors, including:</p><p><strong>The erosion of political norms and institutions</strong>: Autocrats tend to have an easier time gaining power when political parties are weak, citizens aren't committed to democratic ideals, the rule of law is weak, and there's a lack of horizontal accountability, such as independent courts and legislatures.</p><p><strong>International context:</strong> Amid the chaos and failures of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the world began to adopt a more "pessimistic view of democracy promotion." The 2008 recession had a similar effect. Diamond wrote: "If the world's most powerful democracy could spawn a financial crisis that almost produced a global depression; if the world's largest collection of democracies (the E.U.) could not manage its borders or accommodate the rising tide of refugees and migrants due to wars and revolutions, then maybe democracy was not such a great system after all."</p>
Comparison of Democratic versus other types of governments in 1977 and 2017
Credit: Pew Research Center<p><strong><span style="background-color: initial;">Russian rage and Chinese ambition</span></strong><strong>:</strong> Although the U.S. remains a superpower, these two "authoritarian projects" are working to undermine liberal values around the world by using "sharp power," which the paper defines as operating "in the shadows to compromise institutions," unlike soft power, which "seeks to inspire and persuade transparently though attraction and the power of example."</p><p><strong>Global socio-economic trends:</strong></p><ul><li>Social and digital media: Helpful to democratic movements in a sense, the rise of the internet also made it easier for bad-faith actors to spread disinformation and group hatred.</li><li>The economic shift from manufacturing to finance has accelerated wealth inequality, leading to class resentments and leaving nations vulnerable to populism.</li><li>The rise of China displaced workers in the U.S. and similar nations, "further aggravating social and economic insecurities and resentments."</li><li>The long-term impact of neoliberal economic policies: "In the United States, this freed up financial markets to engage in ever riskier and more speculative lending and financial transactions. The final element was the growing economic instability of this potent mixture – deregulation, digitization, financialization, globalization – resulting in the 2008 financial crash, which, since it originated in the U.S. further badly damaged the reputation of democracy, as well as the resources and political self-confidence of the United States."</li></ul>
Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>Diamond concludes the paper by warning that the global community is "perilously close to and indeed have probably already entered what [<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Huntington" target="_blank">Samuel P. Huntington</a>] would have called a 'third reverse wave,' that is, a period in world history in which the number of transitions away from democracy significantly outnumber those to democracy."</p><p>According to survey results, most people seem to <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/global/2020/02/27/democratic-rights-popular-globally-but-commitment-to-them-not-always-strong/" target="_blank">value democratic rights</a>, yet more than half of citizens in the U.S., U.K., Japan, and France say they're dissatisfied with democracy. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean people want autocracy.</p><p>But it does beg the question: What kinds of leaders and governing styles will dissatisfied citizens be willing to entertain — or unwilling to resist — if democracy doesn't find a way to reinvent itself in the 21st century?</p>
In his new book, "American Rule," Jared Yates Sexton hopes to overturn a centuries-long myth.
- In "American Rule," Jared Yates Sexton wants to eradicate the myth of American exceptionalism.
- Since its founding, Sexton writes that America has been constructed to protect the wealthy elite.
- In this interview, the writer suggests that facing up to our tragic history affords us an opportunity to build something new.
Conspirituality 17: Interview with Jared Yates Sexton<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="15ef8bcd30b09c9541cc8d5d51d16893"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XpQJfxzLAik?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>America's leaders were suspicious of the public's intellect well before that war. The founding fathers created our particular system of democracy because they didn't trust common people. The protection and success of white, wealthy landowners has always been the focus, regardless of the generational veneer pained over the top. </p><p>At one point, Sexton had to leave his desk and walk around. The <a href="https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/white-settlers-buried-truth-about-midwests-mysterious-mound-cities-180968246/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Moundbuilder Myth</a> made him shake his head in disbelief. This conspiracy theory promoted the idea that Native Americans were not sophisticated enough to build mound complexes in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and throughout the Southeast, which must have meant Europeans were on the land well before indigenous people. This myth was so woven into the societal fabric that Andrew Jackson, who Sexton calls "a total genocidal madman," mentioned it during the State of the Union address. </p><p>This isn't the only flummoxing footnote. Americans are particularly primed for paranoia. As he says, "You cannot understand modern America without understanding conspiracy theories."</p><p>The recent horrors of <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jemimamcevoy/2020/09/15/pelosi-calls-for-investigation-into-claims-of-mass-hysterectomies-poor-covid-19-care-at-ice-detention-center/?fbclid=IwAR030JRc9pYvYwvgQMoeBDndZpSbqHkSw16Fn0YLPxwS1O-U2pvmA0DZCgk#4dc1d55e5f7c" target="_blank">hysterectomies performed without consent</a> (not a conspiracy theory) point to another long-standing stain on America's reputation: eugenics. British thinker Francis Galton's bastardization of his cousin Charles Darwin's idea of natural selection fell into favor throughout America. This biologically (and religiously) determined call for selective breeding laid the basis of Nazi Germany, though today few Americans recall how much we inspired Hitler's pogroms. </p><p>The problem, Sexton says, is that we constantly choose to deny or overlook past grievances, which keeps us primed to commit new ones. Germany fessed up to their horrors; so did South Africa. Not so America. Sexton cites Jimmy Carter's "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCOd-qWZB_g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">malaise speech</a>," an oft-denounced address that was one of the most honest declarations by a U.S. president. Instead of living up to Carter's impassioned call to action, the public chose an actor that spent eight years coddling a nation's ego instead of holding up a mirror. </p>
Jared Yates Sexton<p>And so here we are, a failing empire foolishly gripping onto the myth of a time that we were supposedly great. In fact, Reagan asked us to make America great again; so did Bill Clinton. With this myth comes the proliferation of conspiracy theories, most notably QAnon, though dozens persist. And they all point back to the founding myth in some capacity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"If America is so special, how are we failing right now? Within the myth is the idea that we're being sabotaged from beyond and from within. Nationalistic conspiracy theories are what happens when a country's mythology starts to wane." </p><p>While critical, Sexton is not without optimism. Our failures shouldn't not erase the incredible progress we've made. Right now, however, that mirror Carter tried to wield is needed. Otherwise, we could be reliving the end of the Cold War. The dismantling of the Soviet Union destroyed Russian optimism, which the government used as a wedge to attain absolute power. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"After the Cold War, they became as a people and a culture incredibly depressed, and incredibly oppressed. It reached a point where they knew their leaders were lying to them. But it was met with a big shrug. Eventually that apathy and powerlessness breeds more apathy and powerlessness."</p><p>Which is where America stands today: skyrocketing rates of depression and anxiety, as well as the blueprint for a new Civil War—a possibility Sexton calls a probability. Nothing new here: instead of collectively focusing our energy on the accumulation of wealth by the moneyed class, culture war issues and conspiracy theories keep us engaged in turf wars. </p><p>If you think it can't happen here, "American Rule" is a reminder that it has, and likely will. Sexton's advice: to achieve any sort of unity, we have to resist the urge to become apathetic. This isn't a red or blue issue. We're still neighbors, part of a community that stretches sea to shining sea, even if at the moment the seas are covered in smog. </p><p>And the road to healing begins with a recognition that we need to rid ourselves of the greatest myth in the history of the republic. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Once we disabuse ourselves of the myth of American exceptionalism, and we start looking at American history and say it's really problematic and inspirational at other times, it allows us to build something new."</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Will nefarious players use social media to sway public opinion again this November?
- The effective subversion of social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election was unprecedented and highlighted the major role social media plays in politics.
- Today, it's harder to repurpose private social data than it was four years ago, but paid and organic audience microtargeting continues.
- Fake news and disinformation still spread freely. Networks of fake accounts are being taken down, but there's no way to know what percentage continue to operate. Meanwhile, the same principles power the news feed algorithms, surfacing partisan content and reaffirming audience biases.
Microtargeting will be a strategy<p>It didn't take long for pundits to recognize how much had changed in manipulative electioneering with the rise of social media. Quickly after the results were announced, it became clear that the 2016 election was a watershed moment in how targeted propaganda can be disseminated using advanced computational techniques.</p><p>Consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, for example, bypassed Facebook rules by creating an app requiring Facebook account login, which, in turn, mined vast amounts of personal information about the users and their friends. This information was then shared with Cambridge Analytica's network of contacts, despite a ban on downloading private data from Facebook's ecosystem and sharing it with third parties. </p>
Shutterstock<p>The firm then leveraged the data to generate microtargeted political ad campaigns, according to former Cambridge Analytica staffer and <a href="https://bigthink.com/podcast/cambridge-analytica" target="_self">whistleblower Christopher Wylie</a>. Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, but the platform won't stop <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jan/09/facebook-political-ads-micro-targeting-us-election" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">microtargeting campaigns</a> on its platform. To make things worse, Cambridge Analytica analysts are already <a href="https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/19/trump-cambridge-analytica-oczkowski-114075" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">back at work</a>.</p><p>One trend to watch out for in microtargeting is the rise of nanoinfluencers. These small time influencers have far fewer followers, but target a highly tailored audience. Political marketers <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/opinion-nanoinfluencers-are-slyly-barnstorming-the-2020-election/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">will leverage nanoinfluencers</a> in tandem with other forms of social media manipulation to digitally knock on the doors of those most likely to be swayed by their canvassing. But knocking on the right doors requires data.</p><p>This ease of access to data and the continued popular strategy of <a href="https://www.cbinsights.com/research/what-is-psychographics/" target="_blank">psychographic segmentation</a> means that unethical use of user information will likely still play a role in the 2020 elections.</p>
Foreign influence and disinformation is still a threat<p>Dividing voters into narrow segments and then whispering targeted messages into their ears was also central to <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/russian-facebook-ads-targeted-us-voters-before-2016-election/" target="_blank">Russian trolls' strategy</a> of spreading disinformation via social media in an effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections. It's estimated that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/technology/facebook-google-russia.html" target="_blank">126 million</a> American Facebook users were targeted by Russian content over the course of their subversive campaign.</p><p>Aside from fake news, jackers also skewed the elections by illegally obtaining and then releasing private information and documents amidst tons of hype. The Wikileaks scandal gave hackers the opportunity to <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37639370" target="_blank">discredit Clinton</a> and the DNC leadership by leaking emails days before the party's convention. Likewise, the circumstances surrounding FBI Director James Comey's October 28 letter to Congress, discussion of which dominated social media news feeds for weeks, will likely never be revealed.</p><p>Social media big hitters have stated before Congress that they are taking active steps to prevent the spread of disinformation and ensure protection from foreign influence, but stopping deceptive networks is a constant battle. In 2019, Facebook removed 50 networks from foreign actors, including Iran and Russia, that were actively spreading <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/18/facebook-twitter-describe-efforts-fight-fake-posts-before-election/3215630001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fake information</a>, and from January to June of this year, another 18 have been removed. Just this month, Facebook removed dozens of troll accounts <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/8/21359823/facebook-trolls-black-trump-supporters-fake-accounts-instagram" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">based out of Romania</a> for coordinated inauthentic behavior. </p><p>Both Twitter and Facebook have begun flagging posts from public figures when disinformation is contained therein, although the way these flags look differs considerably.</p>
Facebook and Twitter<p>Facebook, which eventually instituted new ad transparency policies, has also <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/04/facebook-will-block-ads-from-state-controlled-media-outlets.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">banned ads</a> from state-controlled media outlets, for example from Russia or China, from their platform. This won't stop governments from accessing more illicit means of spreading propaganda on Facebook and into the minds of America's voters — identifying proxies can be tricky. Plus, they pretty much <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/11/18/how-russia-weaponized-social-media-got-caught-escaped-consequences/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">got away with it</a> last time and even convinced the mainstream media to pick up some of the fake stories.</p><p>Well into election season, the spread of disinformation and the potential involvement of foreign influence has already begun. And it isn't limited to the election. These tactics are also being used to <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-trump-us-disinformation-foreign-interference-2020-4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">spread lies</a> about the coronavirus pandemic and the racial protests to incite division and unrest. Even with constant vigilance, it's likely that information war-inclined countries with the tech knowhow and the will to do harm could influence the upcoming election, and that should concern us all. </p>
It’s still too easy to weaponize algorithms<p>After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, social platforms made efforts to change their algorithms and policies to prevent manipulation. But it just isn't enough.</p><p>On Twitter, complete anonymity and the proliferation of automated bots and fake accounts were integral to the 2016 campaign and continue to outpace any efforts the platform makes to curb disinformation. Just last month, a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/us/politics/twitter-hack.html" target="_blank">Twitter hack</a> into blue check accounts, including those of Obama and Biden, showed that this year's election is still at risk. </p><p>Hackers have a rapt audience if they manage to make it in. Close to <a href="http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">70 percent of American adults</a> are on Facebook and millions are on Twitter, most of them every day. As part of the 2016 campaign, foreign agents published more than <a href="https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/10-31-17%20Edgett%20Testimony.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">131,000 tweets</a> and uploaded over<a href="https://storage.googleapis.com/gweb-uniblog-publish-prod/documents/google_US2016election_findings_1_zm64A1G.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> 1,100 videos</a> to YouTube. Now, with the global domination of TikTok, there are even more ways to target voters.</p><p>Digital propaganda has only improved with time, and despite the valiant efforts of Dr. Frankenstein, the monster social media created is not easily subdued. This month YouTube <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2020/08/05/youtube-bans-thousands-of-chinese-accounts-to-combat-coordinated-influence-operations/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">banned thousands of accounts</a> for a coordinated influence campaign, Facebook <a href="https://about.fb.com/news/2020/07/removing-political-coordinated-inauthentic-behavior/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shut down even more</a> and has implemented additional encryption and privacy policies since 2016. On Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram and more, malicious manipulation is just a click away, and there is only so much community standards and terms of service agreements can do to stop it. </p>
Echo chambers and growing mistrust<p>Since 2016, more Americans than ever mistrust mainstream news and get their facts on social media making misinformation and deliberate disinformation a concern in 2020. By 2016, only <a href="https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/en/articles/the-past-decade-and-future-of-political-media-the-ascendance-of-social-media/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">half of Americans</a> watched TV for news, while those who found their news online reached 43 percent – up 7 percent from the year before. </p><p>The problem isn't that people are getting their news from the internet, it's that the internet is the perfect forum for spreading fake news. And a rapidly growing number of Americans will take at least some of this fake news to be fact. Furthermore, believing misinformation is actually linked to a <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/fake-news-republicans-democrats/591211/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decreased likelihood</a> of being receptive to actual information. </p>
Shutterstock<p>This demonstrates how <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/non-partisan-brain" target="_self">the spread of partisan messaging</a> is amplified by the proliferation of echo chambers online. Americans who engage with partisan content are likely choosing to do so because the story confirms their existing ideologies. In turn, social media algorithms exacerbate this tendency by only showing content that is similar to what we engage with. This<a href="https://theconversation.com/feedback-loops-and-echo-chambers-how-algorithms-amplify-viewpoints-107935" target="_blank"> algorithmic amplification</a> of people's confirmation biases screens out dissenting opinions and reinforces the most marginal viewpoints.</p><p>Extreme online groups leverage this tendency to market to <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17457289.2018.1434784" target="_blank">homogeneous networks</a>. Recent research demonstrates that social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter can facilitate this selection into homogenous networks, increasing polarization and solidifying misinformed beliefs. The fundamental principles that inform these algorithms hasn't changed since 2016, and we're already seeing them at play, fomenting polarization in 2020, as civil discontent and the pandemic have propelled divisiveness and discontent. </p>