How would Socrates have used social media if it existed then? Maybe Socrates did, but instead of a virtual social space he took advantage of the town square, and instead of going viral and becoming an influencer, he acquired a reputation through visitors that he would converse with, and fame.

Ancient Greece faced the same challenges of sophists (people that claimed to be philosophers but shared misleading ideas in search of public fame and recognition), as we see in social media today with scammers and irreputable sources.

Socrates’ student Plato believed there should be regulation to allow only “true” philosophers to share their ideas. Social media today does not necessarily reward content that benefits humanity, possibly leading to the criticisms we see of these virtual platforms. However, we must decide whether an influencer has “good or bad” intentions individually, rather than public dismissal that took place in Ancient Greece.

Our modern “town square” is broader and more diverse, connecting people from all sides of the world to share their thoughts. Perhaps the same criteria used by philosophers in the past to distinguish true valuable information, can be used today to fine tune our feeds and our own content that we share.

This spread includes excerpts from an article for BBC Future by Nathan Dufour. To read the full text please visit: