Virtual Event: Chris Bail at The StrandBreaking the Social Media Prism


Join Chris Bail as he presents his newest book Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing. Joining Chris in conversation is NYU-Stern professor and New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Haidt. This event will be held on


A revealing look at how user behavior is powering deep social divisions online—and how we might yet defeat political tribalism on social media

In an era of increasing social isolation, platforms like Facebook and Twitter are among the most important tools we have to understand each other. We use social media as a mirror to decipher our place in society but, as Chris Bail explains, it functions more like a prism that distorts our identities, empowers status-seeking extremists, and renders moderates all but invisible. Breaking the Social Media Prism challenges common myths about echo chambers, foreign misinformation campaigns, and radicalizing algorithms, revealing that the solution to political tribalism lies deep inside ourselves.

Drawing on innovative online experiments and in-depth interviews with social media users from across the political spectrum, this book explains why stepping outside of our echo chambers can make us more polarized, not less. Bail takes you inside the minds of online extremists through vivid narratives that trace their lives on the platforms and off—detailing how they dominate public discourse at the expense of the moderate majority. Wherever you stand on the spectrum of user behavior and political opinion, he offers fresh solutions to counter political tribalism from the bottom up and the top down. He introduces new apps and bots to help readers avoid misperceptions and engage in better conversations with the other side. Finally, he explores what the virtual public square might look like if we could hit reset and redesign social media from scratch through a first-of-its-kind experiment on a new social media platform built for scientific research.

Providing data-driven recommendations for strengthening our social media connections, Breaking the Social Media Prism shows how to combat online polarization without deleting our accounts.


Chris Bail is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University, where he directs the Polarization Lab. A leader in the emerging field of computational social science, Bail’s research examines fundamental questions of social psychology, political polarization, and technology using large-scale experiments on social media platforms, in-depth interviews, and the latest advances in machine learning.

A recipient of Guggenheim and Carnegie Fellowships, Bail has been described as one of Duke’s “best and brightest.” He has published in top journals, such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Advances, and the American Sociological Review. His award-winning book, Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, was among the first to explain how social media drives political extremism using the tools of data science.

Bail has written for The New York TimeThe Washington Post, and CNN. His research has been widely covered by media, including WiredThe AtlanticScientific AmericanForeign PolicyThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeThe GuardianVoxDaily KosNPRNBC NewsC-Span, and the BBC. Bail regularly lectures to audiences in government, business, and the non-profit sector struggling to combat polarization.