Polarisation and the use of technology in political campaigns and communication

11 March 2019

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This report offers a comprehensive overview of the relationship between technology, democracy and the polarisation of public discourse. Technology is inherently political, and the ways in which it is designed and used have ongoing implications for participation, deliberation, and democracy. Algorithms, automation, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are becoming increasingly embedded in everyday life in democratic societies; this report provides an in-depth analysis of the technological affordances that enhance and undermine political decision-making, both now and in the future. To conclude, we formulate principles and policy options for fostering a better relationship between digital technology and public life.

This study has been written by Lisa Maria Neudert and Nahema Marchal of the University of Oxford, at the request of the Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA) and managed by the Scientific Foresight Unit, within the Directorate-General for Parliamentary Research Services (EPRS) of the Secretariat of the European Parliament.

The full report can be viewed on the European Parliament’s website here.