Overview: Social media has impacted our democracy and will continue to do so in the years to come. New technologies spread messages instantaneously, which allows citizens and voters immediate access to information, political figures, and an audience.
Overview: Social media has impacted our democracy and will continue to do so in the years to come. New technologies spread messages instantaneously, which allows citizens and voters immediate access to information, political figures, and an audience. As a result, we continue to see that social media plays an integral role in government, politics, civics, and democracy.
Assignment: Respond to these essay prompts. You are reporting your ﬁndings as well as asserting your opinions, which are supported by evidence.
– How is (has) social media threatening democracy?
– How is (has) social media helping democracy?
– Do you believe social media is a net positive or overall a negative for democracy?
Your research does not have to be limited to the U.S.
About half of the experts responding to this canvassing said people’s uses of technology will mostly weaken core aspects of democracy and democratic representation, but even those who expressed optimism often voiced concerns.
This section includes comments about problems that were made by all respondents regardless of their answer to the main question about the impact of technology on democracy by 2030. These worries are organized under seven themes.
Empowering the powerful: Corporate and government agendas generally do not serve democratic goals or achieve democratic outcomes. They serve the goals of those in power
An internet pioneer and technology developer and administrator predicted, “My expectation is that by 2030, as much of 75% of the world’s population will be enslaved by artificial intelligence-based surveillance systems developed in China and exported around the world. These systems will keep every citizen under observation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, monitoring their every action.”
Dan Gillmor, co-founder of the News Co/Lab at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and professor of practice in digital media literacy commented, “Governments (and their corporate partners) are broadly using technology to create a surveillance state, and what amounts to law by unaccountable black-box algorithm, far beyond anything Orwell imagined.
But this can only happen in a society that can’t be bothered to protect liberty – or is easily led/stampeded into relinquishing it – and that is happening in more and more of the Western democracies. The re-emergence of public bigotry has nothing to do with technology, except to the extent that bigots use it to promote their malignant goals. Meanwhile, the institutions that are supposed to protect liberty – journalism among them – are mostly failing to do so. In a tiny number of jurisdictions, people have persuaded leaders to push back on the encroachments, such as a partial ban on government use of facial recognition in San Francisco. But the encroachments are overwhelming and accelerating.”
Leah Lievrouw, professor of information studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, wrote, “To date, virtually no democratic state or system has sorted out how to deal with this challenge to the fundamental legitimacy of democratic processes, and my guess is that only a deep and destabilizing crisis (perhaps growing out of the rise of authoritarian, ethnic or cultural nationalism) will prompt a serious response.”
Seth Finkelstein, programmer, consultant and EFF Pioneer of the Electronic Frontier Award winner, wrote, “Warren Buffett has said, ‘There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.’ We can examine how this class warfare changes with advances in technology, analogous to how military warfare has been affected by technology. But no weapons technology to date has inevitably produced democracy over dictatorship (or vice-versa).
For example, there once was a type of boosterism that talked about how ordinary people could make websites and promoted its very rare cause célèbre success. But that storyline is now going out of fashion. It’s finally getting to be pundit knowledge that there’s a whole system behind which material gets promoted. Paid professional liars can both make websites themselves and work this system better than amateurs. There’s currently a national panic over Russian trolls. But native fiends can do the same thing, with more skill, incentive and opportunities.”