Social media has gotten a bad name in recent years, much of it deserved, as it has played a sizable role in spreading right-wing backwardness and even authoritarianism in much of the world. This includes, most prominently, the reach and, especially, staying power of the world’s most powerful politician in the world’s most powerful country, Donald J. Trump.

But first, to avoid exaggeration or a misleading picture, we must recognize that the problems of misinformation and disinformation that enable 21st century politics to “build a bridge to the 19th century” are bigger than Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. The traditional media has also failed us in important ways.

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. He is the author of “Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy.”

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