Be it the 2016 US elections or India’s infamous IT Cell; Twitter, Facebook, and other tech giants have displayed their power to manipulate the winds of democracy. Increasing social media expenditure of political parties, the race to utilize data for targeting, and “I Agree” gave birth to power beyond genesis and regulation. Although awareness is increasing in terms of data privacy and digital exposure, people fail to see its impact in the bigger picture.
Murder of democracy?
Apart from Twitter’s recent and nascent attempt of ‘Manipulated Media’, every tech giant has been a vehicle for fake news. Fabricated quotes promoting nationalism, unsourced data shaping opinions and manufactured facts spread through memes have given birth to a piece of propaganda machinery that continues to engulf everyone in its vicinity.
In the name of ‘customized feeds’, tech giants continue to seep deeper into the lives of the users. Monitoring travel, eating habits, window shopping lists, and keywords during conversations, every single user is subjected to his/her own filter bubble. However, this customized feed beautifully masks the gradual, but constant polarization of the user’s world views.
Facebook, arguably the highest earner through ads, states no public accessible record or accountability for who spent how much money to showcase what kind of content is reaching out to millions per minute. Sweeping privacy and data tokens under the carpet, these tech giants continue to build dictators under the veil of democracy.
Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been advocates of promoting free expression for different viewpoints through anonymity and, in turn, emphasizing their support for democracy. However, the reality surfaces during debates on content regulation over social media.
Regulation is immediately equated with censorship, steering the discussion towards ‘death of free speech’. Subsequently, the urge to defend the right to expression renders the users incapable of observing the machinery of manufacturing consent: More viewpoints support democracy, but their tailored visibility builds dictator regimes with unilateral opinion.
Considering the speed, resources, and data owned by tech giants, the future is likely to belong to these democratic dictators.