Crowds surge through the streets of Tunis and Cairo, inspired by a campaign launched on Facebook and drawn to protest sites by text messages. Meanwhile, images of pitched street battles are captured on cellphones and instantly sent around the world.
For years, policymakers and pundits alike have predicted that dictatorships will collapse under the onslaught of social media. All the West needed to do, they argued, was unleash the power of the Internet and let a thousand Twitter revolutions bloom.
But Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion (PublicAffairs) and a former Open Society Fellow, warns us to reject the hype. The Internet, he says, is an uncontrollable and inherently political medium that will frustrate those who believe democracy can be promoted with the push of a button.
This distinguished panel of commentators address Morozov's provocative book and offer some contrarian points of their own. Among other issues, they explore whether repressive governments have actually benefitted from the web and what activists need to know to avoid the mistakes of the past.
- Evgeny Morozov, visiting scholar at Stanford University and author of The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
- Anne Nelson, Columbia School of International and Public Affairs
- Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government
The discussion is moderated by Scott Malcomson, foreign editor of The New York Times Magazine.