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Vox Conversations


The internet was first conceived as a tool to promote free expression, to foster and enliven debate, and to strengthen democratic ideals. But it didn’t quite work out that way. In this episode, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp talks with Steven Feldstein, author of The Rise of Digital Repression, about how governing regimes use digital technology to repress their citizens; the threats posed by surveillance, disinformation, and censorship; and how democracies can backslide into authoritarianism. Host: Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), Senior Correspondent, Vox Guest: Steven Feldstein (@SteveJFeldstein), Author; senior fellow, Carnegie Endowment References:  The Rise of Digital Repression: How Technology is Reshaping Power, Politics, and Resistance by Steven Feldstein (Oxford University Press; 2021) “Maria Ressa: Philippine journalist found guilty of cyber libel” (June 15, 2020; BBC) “[Senator Leila] De Lima’s four-year struggle in prison” by Vince Ferreras (Mar 16; CNN Philippines) “Sandvine Technology Used to Censor the Web in More Than a Dozen Nations” by Ryan Gallagher (Oct. 8, 2020; Bloomberg) “Social media is rotting democracy from within” by Zack Beauchamp (Jan. 22, 2019; Vox)   Enjoyed this episode? Rate Vox Conversations ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and leave a review on Apple Podcasts.  Subscribe for free. Be the first to hear the next episode of Vox Conversations by subscribing in your favorite podcast app. Support Vox Conversations by making a financial contribution to Vox! This episode was made by:  Producer: Erikk Geannikis Editor: Amy Drozdowska Engineer: Paul Robert Mounsey VP, Vox Audio: Liz Kelly Nelson Learn more about your ad choices. Visit