Since the 2010s, we witness the rise of populism and nationalism as part of a reaction against the global policies of the last 30 years in Western liberal democracies and beyond. This article seeks to unpack the rise of populism and nationalism and its relationship to social media. We review the relevant literature relating to the globalization paradigm and assess how it has influenced communication studies. The rise of the globalization theory coincides with key advancements in the post-Cold War world, such as the growth of international trade, the global movement of people, the increase in the number of international laws and forums, economic liberalism, as well as the rise of the internet and global digital communication networks. But while the global era denotes a cosmopolitan vision, economic insecurity, growing inequality in wealth distribution, as well as cultural change and shifts in traditional values and norms have brought about a broader concern that globalization is associated with a shift of power to transnational elites, whose impact upon common people’s life and experiences is not fully acknowledged. Contemporary populism has been associated with nationalism, but also with the active use of social media platforms as alternative communication sites to mainstream media which is seen as having been captured by elite consensus politics. This complicates the relationship between truth and free expression in an age of social media, meaning that we need to account for the role of such platforms in the rise of populism and ‘post-truth’ politics, as well as its scope to advance the goals and strategies of progressive social movements.