Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Masthead Weekly 03.22.19

Welcome to your regular glimpse into The Atlantic’s fascinations and curiosities. Today, the staff writer Conor Friedersdorf inquires into the state of the American public conversation.

What to Know: The External Influences on American Discourse

By Conor Friedersdorf

What we’re thinking: A subject I've returned to again and again over the years is America's public discourse––the ongoing conversation about politics, culture, and much else that unfolds as we try to govern ourselves, learn from one another, and coexist in peace. Social media have transformed public discourse in so many ways. Americans haven't begun to understand them all, in part because we're still at the beginning of the social-media era, and in part because the entire ecosystem changes so quickly all the time. The change I'm thinking about today is the effort by foreign governments––most notoriously Russia––to exploit social media in order to alter our public discourse.

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