The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Has Facebook Undermined Democracy?

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on April 10, 2018 08:44

2 users

Facebook has helped create dynamic online social interactions and a potent tool to undermine democracy.

At this tumultuous period in Facebook's history, Mark Zuckerberg appears on Capitol Hill today to shed light on his company’s data breach.  

With 87 million users getting their private data harvested for elections and other purposes, Zuckerberg has a lot of explicating to do aside from issuing a public apology.

The United States is not the only ground zero of this Cambridge Analytica and Facebook affair. Other democratic countries have also been affected, including the Philippines, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Australia. More than 1.1 million Filipino Facebook users' private data had been possibly compromised by the breach.

Aside from the embattled Donald Trump, the political consultancy firm also had other clients, and one of them is the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte.

In 2015, a board director of Strategic Communications Laboratories, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Alexander Nix reportedly dined with Duterte’s campaign designers. Duterte had won the race behind an effective use of Facebook, but it also left a toxic social media environment. In effect, Facebook has helped hijack the country’s democratic electoral process, leading to the election of a butcher and a dictator wannabe. This incident merits an investigation, like what is being done in the UK and the US.

Whether it was Facebook’s slipshod handling of private data, which is by far obvious, or the company had a direct hand in installing persons unfit for the presidency, it is yet to be determined.  

In the Philippines where Facebook is popular with over 30 million users, the app has also become a weapon to silence legitimate dissent.

Influential pages and accounts of credible journalists and opinion shapers critical of Duterte and his government were taken down. Hundreds of trolls were employed to mass report pages or posts correcting the false information government circulated to the public. 

Meanwhile, false reports, misinformation, and misleading articles spread quickly on Facebook and other social media apps. In a sense, social media appears to be the most effective purveyor of disinformation.

An important lesson we should learn from this recent debacle is that Facebook should be held accountable for exposing its users’ privacy. It also reveals a sad truth that many Facebook users had been vulnerable to manipulation and gullible enough to let those who unscrupulously exploited them win elections. Facebook has become a propaganda tool aiding unprincipled politicians, targeting those whose social interactions mostly rely on the app.

Facebook has linked people and communities, and it helped create dynamic social interactions. However, it is undeniably a potent tool to manipulate human behaviour into buying or choosing elective leaders unfit for their position, which hurt democracy.

Pressuring the company to strengthen its commitment to the protection of privacy would be a good start. Perhaps, the delete Facebook campaign would create an impact, and force Facebook to reconsider its policies. That remains to be seen.

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on April 10, 2018 08:44

Comments

comments powered by Disqus
Source: Phys.org

Facebook acknowledged Monday that widespread use of social media can be harmful to democracy, while pledging to work to minimize...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest