The New Republic
Art Director: Siung Tjia

With 68 percent of Americans currently using Facebook, it has become the nation’s de facto digital public square, at least in part because the country’s political leaders lacked the civic imagination to insist on a public alternative. With their tacit approval, Facebook built a giant garden for its users, walled off from the open internet. And then, taking advantage of its popularity, Facebook started copying and replacing older public forms of civic engagement with new ones that only live inside its platform. Think about it: To participate in a politician’s Facebook group or a Facebook town hall meeting with an elected representative, you have to be a member of Facebook. Imagine being told that to attend a public meeting of your school board or to join a local community organization, you had to agree to let a private corporation amass a dossier about you.

May 2018