Social Networks or Social nightmares?

Roger McNamee, Evgeny Morozov and Max Schrems at the Vienna Humanities Festival 2019

A decade ago social networks, big data and artificial intelligence were welcomed for their promise of progress and democratisation of access. Today, the focus has shifted to their dark side as a threat to our privacy, a danger to democracy and as a new form of surveillance. Three of the world’s leading activists of the electronic age gather to discuss our digital future.

Roger McNamee, an early advisor to Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg, has become one of his fiercest critics – his much-­acclaimed book Zucked is a far-reaching indictment of the way the social media giant is dealing with data security. Evgeny Morozov gained prominence with his book The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, a prophetically early warning about the dangers of the digital age. Max Schrems, Austrian data protection lawyer, became a world-wide celebrity for launching the first successful legal challenge against Facebook for privacy violations. The conversation is led by the Rector of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM), Shalini Randeria.


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Cover picture: © Markus Spiske /

Vienna Humanities Festival

The Vienna Humanities Festival, organised by the IWM, Wien Museum and Time to Talk, is a series of around 40 events (in German and English) which took place from 26 till 29 September 2019 in Vienna for the fourth time. The talk shown above has been realized in cooperation with the viennacontemporary.

The festival’s topic of 2019 “Hope and Despair” took up burning questions thirty years after the end of communism in Eastern Europe, where liberal democracy has long ceased to be a self-evident goal. With so much despair, the prospects for hope are more urgent than ever. How can we move toward realizing more desirable futures? And what are the lessons we can learn from earlier forms of resistance.

“Witnessing war to learn for peace.”

“Proletarians of all countries, who washes your socks?”

“Time to rethink growth”

“It’s elites who turn against democracy, not the people.”

“Witnessing war to learn for peace.”

“Proletarians of all countries, who washes your socks?”

“Time to rethink growth”

“Justice cannot wait.”

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