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What to Expect When You're Electing

What to Expect When You're Electing

Update: 2018-10-041


The 2016 U.S. presidential election blew up our ideas about influence campaigns in the age of screens. Two years later, Veronica Belmont and Baratunde Thurston examine how the internet is changing our minds, our votes, and our democracies – all over the world.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Scott Shane details the United States' long history with election meddling. Paris correspondent for the Washington Post, James McAuley, shines a light on how other countries are managing the changing dynamics of online political campaigns. And speculative fiction authors Malka Older and Genevieve Valentine describe what elections may look like in the future, with advances in technology.

IRL is an original podcast from Mozilla. For more on the series go to

Baratunde Thurston has worked for The Onion and produced for The Daily Show. He’s the host of the iHeartMedia podcast Spit, and wrote the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.

Scott Shane is a reporter in the Washington bureau of The New York Times. Have a look at his recent reporting, The Plot to Subvert an Election.

Malka Older is a writer and humanitarian aid worker. Her latest fiction book State Tectonics is about how the future of democracy can be purchased. Go here to check out Candidate Y, her speculative fiction that premiered on this episode of IRL.

Genevieve Valentine is a novelist. Her most recent book is a near-future political thriller called ICON. Go here to read her short story “Hello, I’m Your Election” featured in this IRL podcast episode.

For more on telling fact from falsehood leading up to election cycles, watch Mozilla’s original short film, Misinfo Nation: Misinformation, Democracy, and the Internet.

This article discusses how fair elections require responsible tech. Mozilla Foundation Advocacy Lead Ashley Boyd suggests that for democracy to thrive in the internet era, we need technology that respects privacy.

And, really: it shouldn't be hard to participate in politics. Mozilla is out to make it a little easier. Go to to get Firefox features to help you counter misinformation as you browse the Web and lessen the ability for those behind political ads to microtarget you on Facebook.

Leave a rating or review in Apple Podcasts so we know what you think.

Comments (1)

Nick Lastname

So.... because Americans can't form their own opinions the internet must be censored to save democracy? Not something I was expecting to hear from Mozilla. I'll rephrase: data mining leads to targeted reception of specific ads/opinions/stories/etc. while purposefully avoiding contradictory information of the same type (i.e. ads/opinions/stories/etc.) to reinforce the recipients' previously held beliefs while simultaneously making it less likely they'll be exposed to opposing viewpoints. Therefore, the recipients are unable to make an informed decision because they don't have all the information. This is why the onus is on the recipient to seek out the information. If Twitterbook gives me an ad for Coca Cola but I want a Dr. Pepper, I'll drink a Dr. Pepper. And if so many people decide to drink Coke that it becomes impossible to find Dr. Pepper anymore, then I guess I'll have a glass of water. The choice is still mine regardless of what my screen says.

Oct 5th
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What to Expect When You're Electing

What to Expect When You're Electing

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