It is important to understand not just how individual social machines work but also how they impact society at large. One of the concepts we have explored in the Social Machines and Society project is that of the "digital citizen", the associated rights and responsibilities people should have in information societies, and the new conflicts and inequalities that emerge in information societies. One new challenge when it comes to digital data is whether people have a 'right to be forgotten', and how to grapple with the potential ramifications that follow from this.
A related issue is how to shape the surge of available information in way that might lead to an 'Information Spring' in which data and information is free to serve the people as opposed to narrow company interests. The current downside to the information surge is the proliferation of echo chambers and 'filter bubbles' which increase polarisation and extremism. We must seek ways to maintain the potential of the web to serve as a positive opportunity for identity-building, solidarity and constructive exchange of opinions.