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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Nov-18 > Letters & opinions

Letters & opinions • @prospect_uk

Don’t give up on Twitter

Rafael Behr’s article (“How Twitter poisoned politics,” October) was in many respects a model of civil persuasion. I have long tended to the view that all Twitter has done is allow the expression of views that would in the past have been restricted to pub conversations.

However, it becomes harder to resist the conclusion that airing fringe views gives them greater currency.

Behr is right that social media has coarsened the public debate, as abusive commenters have moved from below the line on news websites to Twitter. The impact on Westminster is certainly disproportionate to the number of Twitter accounts in use. Even so, Behr gives too much weight to scare stories. There is no evidence that automated accounts or Russian troublemakers have influenced British politics. And he gives too little weight to what is still wonderful about Twitter: the speed with which we can find expertise in any subject; and the way we can discover valuable new voices.

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In Prospect's November issue: Paul Collier explains how major cities in the UK will always be in the shadow of London unless capitalism is overhauled and suggests ways that we might be able to improve the situation in those communities that capitalism has left behind. Meanwhile, Steve Bloomfield asks what is going at the Foreign Office. The once great institution that was a symbol of Britain’s global power now seems to be lost and unable to explains its role. Also, Samira Shackle explores a Pakistani protest movement that is unnerving the country’s military. Elsewhere in the issue: Dahlia Lithwick suggests that the Supreme Court will struggle to retain its authority now that Brett Kavanaugh is on the bench. Philip Ball argues that DNA doesn’t define destiny as he reviews a new book by Robert Plomin. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Simon Heffer debate political correctness.