In 2018, the concept of “bots” and “trolls” became seared into public consciousness. Beyond miscreants harassing others online, the public became starkly aware that well-funded and coordinated efforts on social media had the power to shape political outcomes, fundamentally changing the nature of online civic and political participation. It was also a turning point for concerns around data privacy, both for the public and for governments.
The upcoming year will see innovations which seek to empower communities and enable meaningful, respectful online dialogues, all while putting individual privacy at the heart of the process. These innovations will push back against advertising-based, algorithmic models which have empowered bots and trolls and emboldened those who seek to manipulate political outcomes.