Democracy Forum 2/19/21: Can Democracy Survive the Internet?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

-Our information ecosystem and how it’s contributed to this very divisive moment in American politics:
-How did it go wrong, can we fix it?
-What role do mis- and dis-information, social media, media silos, and alternative realities play in fostering extremism?
-How are these issues playing out right here in real-world Maine?
-What remedies are suggested by research?

Ronald Deibert, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Director of The Citizen LabMunk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and author of the new book, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
Andy O’Brien, freelance journalist where he has been reporting on far-right groups in Maine for the magazine, Mainer. He is also a former Maine state legislator, former managing editor of the Free Press in Rockland

To learn more about this topic:
Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society, Ronald Deibert, 2020
By Andy O’Brien from Mainer:
“Hatebook” – The Facebook group that promoted violence and death threats against Safiya Khalid, the first Somali-American elected to the Lewiston City Council
“Leaks Show Mainer’s Online Radicalization By Neo-Nazi Terrorist Cult”
“UMaine College Republicans Caught in MAGA Civil War”
“Maine GOP Leadership Goes to Bat for White Nationalistic College Club”
“Mob thinking has grown as news moves online,” Sara Fischer/Axios, January 2021
“Banning Trump won’t fix social media: 10 ideas to rebuild our broken internet – by experts,” The Guardian, January 2021
“Trump Is Fighting Section 230 for the Wrong Reason,” The Atlantic, January 2021
“How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation,” Brian Chen, The New York Times, October 2020

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.