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Democracy's Cyber Defendant

Polarization, Elections, and AI

Thursday, April 25th, 2024, 7 p.m. CET


The Theater at Amerikahaus

Karolinenplatz 3

80333 Munich

To watch the video

Tech and Democracy Activist

In 2018, Yaël Eisenstat joined Facebook as the head of Global Elections Integrity for political ads. Six months later, she left disillusioned, exposing how Facebook profits financially from voter manipulation. In her talk she will addressed the outsized and worrisome role that social media and artificial intelligence play in politics, both in the United States and around the world.


The evidence was revealing and disturbing. Facebook allowed political ads and disinformation campaigns to influence the votes of millions of citizens, all the while scraping more data from the citizens they were targeting.  These problems and others—like Russian meddling and the troubling rise of “verified” posts—clashed with Eisenstat’s ethics.


Before joining Facebook, she had worked for years to strengthen and defend democracy—as an intelligence officer at the CIA, a diplomat at the State Department and a White House advisor.


Eisentat is now a Senior Fellow at Cybersecurity for Democracy, working on policy solutions for how social media, AI-powered algorithms and generative AI affect political discourse, polarization and democracy. She has worked at the Anti-Defamation League as their Director of the Center for Tech and Society, published at the world’s most established media outlets, and delivered TedTalks and keynotes across the globe.


Yaël Eisenstat describes herself as someone who goes into the belly of the beast seeking to initiate lasting change. While that change is sometimes slow to come, Eisenstat remains hopeful, if wary. She will share insights into how she combines her professional positions with being an outspoken advocate for the state of democracy: both on and offline. This year, more than half the world’s population heads to the ballot box in democratic elections, providing the perfect opportunity to examine how we could change the cybersphere to benefit, rather than hinder, the democratic process

Moderator Richard Gutjahr is one of Germany's most renowned and influential journalists. For 20 years, he worked as a reporter and presenter for ARD/ZDF, both in front of and behind the camera, covering conflicts and crises around the world. His travels frequently took him to the Silicon Valley, where he early on published his insights through various blogs, podcasts, and books. As a lecturer, he teaches journalism in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States. Gutjahr has received numerous national and international awards for his outstanding work.

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