Democracy in Social Media Policies and Community Standards
The foundational principles of Athenian democracy included equality, harmony, debate, and general education. In the following activities, you will apply these principles to evaluating how democratic are the community standards, online rules, and user policies found on today's social media platforms.
Activity 1: Evaluate Social Media Community Guidelines
- Review the seven features of Athenian democracy to familiarize yourself with the key concepts.
- Choose one of the following social media platforms: Youtube, Facebook, TikTok, or Twitter.
- Open up the community standards for your chosen platform.
- In a video, podcast, or brief paper, answer the following questions related to how the community standards do or do not uphold the foundational features of democracy:
- Does the platform allow all users to post and comment equally, or does it ban certain types of content or actions from the platform? Do you agree with these bans?
- How does the platform encourage active dialogue and debate? Does this debate build harmony among users? (harmony means “accepting differences among people”)
- Does the platform support citizen wisdom and general education?
- Are the guidelines easy to read or understand? If not, why do you think the standards are written in the way that they are?
- From your own experience on the platform, how effective do you think these guidelines are in maintaining democratic principles and dialogue on the site?
- Bonus: Annotate the community standards using Hypothes.is to display your findings/thoughts.
Activity 2: Assessing, Revising, and Writing School Social Media Policies
- Does your school or district have a social media policy?
- YES: Evaluate whether it aligns with the seven features of Athenian democracy. Then, either: 1) write a proposal to administrators to suggest changes to the policy to make it more democractic; or 2) write a social media policy for your class.
- NO: Evaluate the following social media policies to determine whether they align with the seven features of Athenian democracy: Jackson Public Schools, Pottsville Area School District, Guilford County Schools, and Patricia Smeyers' Elementary School Social Media Policy. Then, write a social media policy for your class, school, or district that upholds the foundational features of democracy.
Activity 3: Writing Social Media Posts That Align with Democractic Values
- Compose a social media post about an issue or topic that matters to you.
- Explain how the language you use in your post reflects a commitment to the democratic values of active debate that includes respect for multiple points of view.
- From the Polis to Facebook: Social Media and the Development of a New Greek Public Sphere (Journal Article)
- Teaching Democracy: A Media Literacy Approach (Journal Article)
- The Internet as a Human Right (Brookings Institute)
Connecting to the eBook
Connecting to the Standards
- Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
- Explain why the Founders of the United States considered the government of ancient Athens to be the beginning of democracy and explain how the democratic concepts developed in ancient Greece influenced modern democracy (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T1.1]
- Explain the democratic political concepts developed in ancient Greece: a) the "polis" or city state; b) civic participation and voting rights, c) legislative bodies, d) constitution writing, d) rule of law (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [7.T4.3]
- ISTE Standards
- Creative Communicator
- 6b. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
- 6d. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.
- Creative Communicator
- DLCS Standards
- Safety and Security (CAS.a)
- Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
- Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
- Research (DTC.c)
- English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
- English/Language Arts Common Core Standards