Fall/Winter Timetable

POL106H1S L0101

Contemporary Challenges to Democracy: Democracy in the Social Media Age


Social media are the predominant means by which most of the world communicates and seeks and receives information today. Like all communication technologies, the character of social media can have important influence on issues related to identity, society, and politics. Social media themselves are also important sites of political struggles, and are subject to varying types of state control and interference. In this course, we examine the relationship between democracy and social media. We will explore the underlying business model of social media, widely known as “surveillance capitalism,” and then discuss some of the ways the business model may distort public communications. We will look at disinformation on social media, and both targeted and mass surveillance undertake in and through the platforms. We will also examine the overlooked ecological impacts of social media. Finally, we will explore ways to reform and regulate social media in the public interest.


(OPTIONAL) Ronald J. Deibert, Reset: Reclaiming Social Media for Civil Society (House of Anansi Press: 2020)

Format and Requirements

Essays, tests, class participation, final exam