It is irrefutable to deny that Democracy is at gunpoint thanks to the rapid
development and growth of Silicon Valley technologies such as Social Media,
Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoins
and various other so called Numerical
which has empaneled in it a person’s entire information and which
actually knows more about him/her than what he/she actually know about
themselves. The trajectory which social-media has taken
inflames regulatory & ethical concerns.
We rightly celebrate how the internet
gives us a platform, allows new movements to form, and helps us access new
information. These are good things, but don’t be blinded by to the other
problems the same technology is creating. Our democracy relies on lots of boring
stuff to make it actually work as a system of collective self-government that
people believe in and support: a sovereign authority that functions effectively,
a healthy political culture, a strong civil society, elections that people
trust, active citizens who can make important moral judgments, a relatively
strong middle class, and so on.
It is inexorably true that if we do not find a new settlement between tech &
democracy then more and more people will simply conclude that democracy no
longer really works, and look for something-else thereby striking the wrong
chord for embarking toward a perilous path called the Benevolent Data Dictatorship
- The Genesis of Cyber-Space
At the very nib of the origin of cyber-space the world was presented with 2
visions of Internet Technology Space:
Our country which bares the title of Republic & Democratic
choose the libertarianism approach. The ironical part about this model was
that it showed great success but in these contemporary times it has become
subject to what one can say Internal Contradictions.
- California Libertarianism
- Chinese Authoritarianism
- Computational Propaganda
Computational propaganda is a term and phenomenon that encompasses recent
digital misinformation and manipulation efforts. It is best defined as the use
of algorithms, automation, and human curation to purposefully distribute
misleading information over social media networks.. Computational propaganda
involves learning from and mimicking real people so as to manipulate public
opinion across a diverse range of platforms and device networks. Bots, the
automated programs integral to the spread of computational propaganda, are
software intended to perform simple, repetitive, robotic tasks.
They are used
to computationally enhance the ability of humans to get work done
online. Social media bots are automated identities that can do mundane tasks
like collect information, but they can also communicate with people and
systems. They are deployed to do legitimate jobs like delivering news and
information. They also are used for more malicious activities associated with
spamming and harassment.
Whatever their uses, they are able to rapidly deploy
messages, interact with other users’ content, and effect trending algorithms all
while passing as human users. Political bots, social media bots used for
political manipulation, are also effective tools for strengthening online
propaganda and hate campaigns. One person, or a small group of people, can use
an army of political bots on Twitter to give the illusion of large-scale
Regimes use political bots, built to look and act like real
citizens, in efforts to silence opponents and to push official state
messaging.Anonymous political actors harness key elements of computational
propaganda such as false news reports, coordinated disinformation campaigns, and
troll mobs to attack human rights defenders, civil society groups, and
journalists. Thus Computational propaganda is one of the most powerful new
tools against democracy for the reason being that it acts like an effective
propaganda which attacks the “Pathos” of the people and which ultimately shadows
their very ability to reason.
False news reports, widely distributed over social media platforms, can in many
cases be considered to be a form of computational propaganda. A very
contemporary example for this would be the tweet which was surfaced by a notable
medieval history writer Tom Holland. People mistook him for being the actor Tom
Holland and because of that they started a computational wave called “Boycott
This example clearly shows how vulnerable people are that they
do-not even go into the nitty-gritty of the said information and start
ostracizing a person who is not even the actual perpetrator of that tweet. This
clearly portrays that how the social media has contoured the people in a manner
that they have implicit faith in what is shown to them without even checking as
to whether it’s true or not and has made people completely dependent on them.
Bots are often key tools in propelling this disinformation across sites like
Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and beyond. These social media platforms have
served significant volumes of fake, sensational, and other forms of junk news at
sensitive political moments over the last several years. However, most
platforms reveal little about how much of this content there is or what its
impact on users may be.
The World Economic Forum recently identified the
rapid spread of misinformation online as among the top 10 perils to society.
Prior research has found that social media favors sensationalist content,
regardless of whether the content has been fact checked or is from a reliable
source. When junk news is backed by automation, either through dissemination
algorithms that the platform operators cannot fully explain or through political
bots that promote content in a preprogrammed way, political actors have a
powerful set of tools for computational propaganda. Both state and non-state
political actors can deliberately manipulate and amplify non-factual information
- Algorithm’s not subject to Accountability.
A healthy democracy needs informed citizens is no less than a gospel truth in
today’s 21st century. The media essentially contribute to the functioning of
democracy since they set the agenda, provide background information and
represent different viewpoints with regard to political issues.
Based on this,
citizens are supposed to form their own opinions and participate in democratic
decision-making processes. Although the fundamental question which needs to
be asked is how the algorithm curation influences the character and quality of
our democracy. To answer this question the trajectory of focus should be on 1)
Increasing fragmentation and polarization of the audience 2) The radicalization
of public discourse (through disinformation/fake news).
Fragmentation of the public agenda prevents people from sharing a common
experience and from understanding one another. In view of this, social media may
dangerously reduce the common core of topics for public discourse in a
democracy. Traditionally, fragmentation research focuses on a shared issue or
agenda rather than on like-minded opinions, which is why the theory is more
closely linked to the concept of filter bubbles than to the concept of echo
chambers. Polarization” refers to the ideological division of a society into
different (extreme) political camps. Polarization can be categorized into 1)
Division of citizens’ attitudes 2) The divergence of their emotional
attitudes to specific (social) groups. From a normative point of view,
polarization is regarded as problematic because it makes compromises, which are
existential for democracies, more difficult and in extreme cases impossible.
At a societal level, the violation of the above-mentioned political rights
threatens democratic discoursewith harmful consequences for democracy as a
whole. Democracies require a fruitful public discourse characterized by a
diversity of trustworthy and therefore correct information to function properly.
If the prevalence of disinformation reaches a level that distorts the public
discourse by essentially replacing and suppressing truthful information, the
foundation of democracy becomes unstable.
In addition to these indirect
effects, disinformation may also have direct negative effects on democracy.
Disinformation campaigns, for example, may threaten the integrity of
elections.Incite polarization on conversely debated issues (e.g., migration)
and undermine trust in democratic processes, and the “common meeting ground” of
shared facts, issues, and values.
We had for several years seen how social-media was helping democracy grow in
vertiginous fashion but unfortunately that learning curve where the advances &
excitement that comes from the activities have transitioned or transmogrified
into tools of control for dictators. Alas! it has today indeed made social media
weak like a Compromised Immune System.
- Woolley & Howard, 2016
- Forelle, M., Howard, P., Monroy-Hernández, A., & Savage, S. (2015).
Political Bots and the Manipulation of Public Opinion
- Howard, P. N., Kollanyi, B., & Woolley, S. C. (2016). Bots and
Automation Over Twitter during the US Election. Computational Propaganda
Project: Working Paper Series
- How Social Media Is Killing Democracy a research by University of Oxford
- How Social Media Is Killing Democracy a research by University of Oxford
- World Economic Forum, 2014
- Vicario et al., 2016
- Katz, 1996; Tewksbury & Rittenberg, 2008
- Fletcher & Nielsen, 2017
- Fiorina & Abrams, 2008; Prior, 2013
- Iyengar, Sood, &Lelkes, 2012
- Jaursch, 2019, p. 8
- Bayer et al., 2019, pp. 77–78; Jaursch, 2019, p. 8
- EC, 2018a, p. 5
- Jaursch, 2019, p. 8.