Monday, November 14, 2016

How social media is at risk of undermining democracy

There is a very good article on Medium by Tobias Rose-Stockwell called

How We Broke Democracy

Our technology has changed this election, and is now undermining our ability to empathize with the world

The election concerned was, of course, the US presidential election

Tobias's argument is that social media, while very successful at communicating information to people, is far too effective at telling us what we do want to hear and filtering out what we don't want to hear, thus filtering out much of the "common truth" which makes society in general, and democracy in particular, workable.

One of the few points about the phenomenon which his article misses - and one which makes the problem he describes even more alarming - is that some among that segment of the population who get their news from social media has taken to attacking the "MSM" (mainstream media) as being in conspiracy with whichever elements of the political spectrum or of society they line up against.

In other words, any news source which is likely to tell you things you don't want to know is part of the enemy.

You can read the article at


Jim said...

To be fair, I dont think that information breaks democracy,

if anything it gears them up to do some research and actually achieve it.

I always thought it would come something like this

But, as always I am the first to admit when wrong, and something like this may actually be the winner.

Either way, people being lead to information, leading them to research it, is actually a very good thing. Politicians and Media outlets telling people what they should think, well that was always going to break democracy to be honest with you.

Chris Whiteside said...

It's absolutely not people doing more research and having more sources of information which I have a problem with - I regard that as a very good thing.

It only becomes a problem if people use that greater variety to select new sources which tell thing things they want to hear and stop listening to sources which tell them things they don't want to hear.

If people fall into that trap the problem of confirmation bias will become much worse and society far more divided.