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We can—and must—realign technology to better serve democracy.

Senior Fellow at Cybersecurity for Democracy | Former National Security Official | Former Facebook Elections Integrity Head | Former Anti-Defamation League VP

Yaël Eisenstat | Former National Security Official |  Former Facebook Elections Integrity Head | Berggruen Institute Future of Democracy Fellow | Anti-Defamation League VP
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Dear Facebook, This Is How You’re Breaking Democracy (13:30)

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Forecasting the Future of Media (1:30)

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Restoring Civil Discourse in America (1:06)

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Social Media and the Rise of Information Warfare (2:20)

Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Social media giants’ search for profit is driving polarization and threatening our democracy, says Yaël Eisenstat. But it’s not too late for us to turn back. A Cybersecurity for Democracy Senior Fellow and former Anti-Defamation League VP, Yaël has spent her career investigating the real-world effects of technology on our society, from the rise of disinformation to how generative AI fuels mistrust—often long before anyone else was paying attention. She’s a former CIA analyst and White House advisor who became Facebook’s head of global elections integrity, and then left six months later when she realized she couldn’t change the company from within. She radically reshaped the conversation around accountability in tech by bringing her insider experiences to light—and she didn’t stop there. Today, she advocates powerfully for tech that serves us all, and shows us a path forward for protecting our elections, our democracy, and our future.

When former CIA analyst Yaël Eisenstat realized she could have easier conversations with suspected extremists overseas than she could with her fellow Americans on hot-button issues, she started to fear that the breakdown of public discourse was a greater threat to our democracy than any foreign adversary. Determined to reverse this course, she took a job as head of global elections integrity at Facebook—a company she believed was a huge part of the problem, by enabling inflammatory rhetoric, spreading fake news and conspiracy theories, and amplifying dangerous hate speech. In her immensely powerful TED Talk, “Dear Facebook, this is how you’re breaking democracy,” Yaёl reveals her experience inside the tech behemoth and how, despite her recommendations, the company continued to resist meaningful change in the interest of profit.

“Tech companies still have the opportunity to protect the integrity of our elections, to prioritize truth over fiction, and to take seriously the threat of AI-generated content that will be flooding people’s feeds. We need the public to make these companies understand their responsibility,” Yaёl says. She shows us how we can foster an internet that doesn’t manipulate, exploit or divide us but instead uplifts and empowers us.

Yaёl has spent over two decades combating extremism, polarization and anti-democratic behavior both on- and offline. As a Senior Fellow at Cybersecurity for Democracy, she works on policy solutions for how social media, AI-powered algorithms, and generative AI affect political discourse and democracy. Previously, she was Vice President at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology & Society, spearheading their efforts to hold tech companies accountable for the hate and extremism on their platforms. She works with industry, governments, and civil society to push for a safer internet and technology that better serves the public.

As a speaker, Yaёl brings a wealth of experience at the forefront of her field, and a hopeful vision for the next era of technology. She has long been a pioneer and key voice for transparency and accountability in tech, particularly where real-world consequences affect democracy and societies around the world. In her brilliant, strategic talks, she discusses everything from information warfare and the future of media, to generative AI, political and social inequality, international affairs, and national security.

Yaёl served as the Senior Advisor for Tech and Democracy at the Institute for Security and Technology in 2021-22, was a Future of Democracy Fellow at Berggruen Institute in 2021-22, a Researcher-in-Residence at Betalab in 2020-21, and a Visiting Fellow at Cornell Tech’s Digital Life Initiative in 2019-2020, where she focused on technology’s effects on discourse and democracy and taught a multi-university course on Tech, Media and Democracy. She was also an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs in 2017-18. She has been an intelligence officer, diplomat, and White House advisor.

Yaël has been published in numerous mainstream outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, WIRED, Quartz and The Huffington Post, has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, BBC World News, CBS Sunday Morning, Bloomberg News, CBS News, PBS and C-SPAN, in policy forums, and on a number of podcasts. She has been named one of Forbes‘s “40 Women to Watch Over 40.”


The Surrey Board of Trade was honored to present Yaël Eisenstat to our Surrey Women in Business Awards audience. Her speech was fascinating as I and the audience listened to all of her career accomplishments. When she said the words about knowing your worth and value no matter what, that resonated with me and the audience. The message about standing up for what you believe in even if it means you have to make difficult choices also resonated. Yaël was amazing!

Surrey Board of Trade

Speech Topics

Politics & Society
Taking Back Our Public SquareHow Social Media Can Better Serve Democracy

Democracy activist and former Facebook employee Yaël Eisenstat has been loudly and unapologetically sounding the alarm for years on the dangers of social media and its impact on our democracy. In her TED Talk, her viral op-eds, and the groundbreaking book An Ugly Truth: Behind Facebook’s Battle for Domination (where she is one of the subjects), Yaël boldly tackles the very real consequences that tech companies have on societies and democracies around the world. The way social media companies are currently constructed is actively damaging our communities and democracy. So where do we go from here?

With over two decades of experience in the public sector and tech industry, this Cybersecurity for Democracy Senior Fellow has a unique vantage point for understanding these critical issues. It’s up to us, our advocacy, and our activism to create meaningful change, she says. This vital talk, presented by a true change-maker, reveals powerful ideas for how government and society should hold tech companies accountable—and how we can reclaim our public square for everyone’s good.

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Grit and GraceWomen Leading in Male-Dominated Worlds

Too often, women in leadership feel pressure to hide their emotions at work for fear of being labelled hysterical or unfit to lead. But Yaël Eisenstat, a former intelligence officer who now advocates for transparency in tech, reveals how vulnerability can actually be a superpower for women in positions of power. You don’t have to be “one of the boys” to lead the boys, she says.

In this inspiring talk, Yaël shares her journey through some high-pressure roles, both at home and abroad, where she was often the only woman at the table. From the CIA to countering extremism overseas, advising on national security issues at the White House, and tackling the threat of elections integrity at Facebook, she shares lessons on how to balance the grit and the grace of being a woman leader in traditionally male-dominated spaces. Yaël speaks of being knocked down and getting back up; of successes and disappointments she encountered along the way; and of the compromises she has made to balance succeeding in a man’s world with maintaining her own sense of self. Audiences leave empowered to speak out, take up space, and do good work.

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Politics & Society
With Great Power Comes... No Responsibility?Facing the Real-World Consequences of Tech

The breakdown of civil discourse is more than just the loss of polite society—it’s a genuine threat to our national security. As a former intelligence officer and U.S. diplomat, Yaël Eisenstat felt alarmed by the growing social and political rifts happening throughout America. Even more concerning? The way the internet, and social media, was contributing to this divide. Yaël grappled with the question of who was responsible for the real-world consequences of tech, particularly as it impacted our democracy. With the danger at home steadily rising, she believed her experience in the public sector could help fill a gap in Silicon Valley’s talent pool—and chip away at the ways tech enabled polarization and election hacking. She took a job as the Global Head of Elections Integrity Operations at Facebook, working inside a company she felt played a major role in threatening democracy.

In a talk that is both eye-opening and essential, Yaël shares the lessons she learned from her time in the national security world and at Facebook, her perspective on government’s role in regulating tech, and finally, ideas on how all of us can contribute to the united America we want to build.

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