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Forum – The Destructive Potential of the Internet and Social Media

The Humanist Association of Toronto

Every Saturday we meet to discuss a topic decided upon the previous week. These are topics of humanist interest, from a humanist perspective.

Today we discuss, “The Destructive Potential of the Internet and Social Media”. Below is a write up on the topic from HAT member, Tanya Long. Join us, won’t you?

The Internet and social media are in many ways of extraordinary benefit to humankind: Almost universal access to information, education and entertainment. The ability to be connected with loved ones who are far away by Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, WhatsApp and other media. The ability to mobilize people quickly. A forum for the democratic expression of ideas. These benefits have been particularly valuable during this pandemic lockdown.

But there is a spectacular downside. The Internet is filled with dangerous and damaging misinformation. Twitter provides a platform for people to express the most hateful sexist, homophobic and racist sentiments without consequence. Herd mentality prevails, where one hateful idea opens the floodgates for many to follow. Opinions are inflamed and polarized. Hackers and scam artists can actually influence political decision making in other countries.

Much of this is beyond the ability of any individual to change. But there are questions to consider.

-why is there so much hate and hostility on social media?
-do Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, CEO Twitter, have a moral responsibility to monitor and clean up the media they control?
-is such a clean up even possible?
-should government get involved?
-is there anything individuals can and should do, such as close their Facebook and Twitter accounts?
-are such actions likely to make any difference?
-how great is the danger to the democratic process, the right to freedom of speech and the right to privacy?
-are the benefits such that we just put up with all the negativity?

Meet our diverse group, trade perspectives in a free and open forum and learn from others as they learn from you!

BTW: don’t be concerned if there are not many RSVP’s. Many HAT members attend regularly but don’t sign up on Meetup. Our online meetings have been very popular with 20-30 attendees.

NOTE: The HAT Forum adheres strictly to the City of Toronto Policy on Non-Discrimination (

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