Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

March 17, 2020

Social media has gone a long way in influencing every aspect of our lives. It has especially influenced our democracy.

Social media has had some positive impacts on our democracy. But it has had some negative impacts on it as well.

How can social media be manipulated to undermine Democracy?

Here are some of the ways social media manages to undermine Democracy:

Social Media can influence people’s decisions on who to vote for:

Remember what happened in the 2016 US Presidential election?

Facebook released some certain information about certain people. This information allowed some certain people to target a certain demographic and in turn influence who they voted for. You get the idea.

That is, of course, the wrong use of people’s privacy on social media. The site paid a huge fine for that, but at least you get a picture of what social media can do when used wrong.

Social media is powerful and can be used deliberately to achieve feats like this. People’s decisions should not be influenced. Information alters one’s mental state. It is safe to say that the leader is not exactly who the people might have wanted.

And the fact is, as long as Social media exists, there will always be the possibility of things like these happening.

Misinformation:

It’s quite simple. The social media runs of information. It holds a web of uses together, all interconnected, sharing news and information. It might be somewhat easy for untrue speculations to be distributed on any of those platforms.

Even the truth can be manipulated before it is discharged. It can be wrung until it becomes a lie. At the mildest, it becomes an inaccurate description of what is being depicted.

What happens when untrue information is spread? It all depends on the message or purpose of the manipulation. People might lose faith in the opposition party’s manifestos. They can also lose hope in an elected democracy of the nation in general.

The worst part is that some people might lose interest in democracy. This can cause them to embrace apathy in its fullest.

Building Misconstrued Participation in Democracy:

Social Media can create the pseudo impression that one is partaking in the country’s democracy when he is not. Give it some thought.

Ranting is okay. Everyone does that from time to time. But there are a bunch of people that won’t go out to vote when the time comes. All they do mostly is engage in banter on social media.

Are they participating in the country’s politics? Feels like it, but they’re not!

Citizenship obligations need to be performed, and that can’t be done via news feeds. At least, not until we start to carry out elections with social media.

A rising wave of petitioners:

social media can be used to destabilize an aspect of the country’s democracy through petitioning.

We live in an age where online petitions are shared and distributed via social media. These petitions can have a great effect on democracy. This could be from sparking some minor conversations to fanning major impeachment flames.

Effects of Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

Limited room for Stealth Actions:

Almost everything is publicized these days. There’s little or no room for the government of a democracy to take some core actions without the public knowing about it. Once one set of people knows, almost everybody knows.

The big reveal:

Social media succeeded in scratching that gap that existed between the government and its people. Think about it, there was once a time when the news could be obtained only through print. The Newspapers were mostly circulated in the morning. And even that news and information were sometimes doctored to portray democracy in the best light possible.

But now, news travels in real-time. There is a wider reach, a wider spread, and dissemination of information. Everyone knows what is going on- including you.

Therefore, in a certain sense, social media uncovers some certain incompetence of the democracy which has been hidden from the public for so long.

No room for a slack democracy:

Imagine someone watching your every move. Feels rather awkward, doesn’t it? Anyway, chances are, you won’t want to make a mistake.

Democracy is now under the watchful eyes of Social Media. Any mistake goes a long way in deciding how effective a tenure might be.

A president can be impeached from office because of a single moment of weakness that goes viral on the media. To the people, it might be beneficial. To the government, maybe not so much.

There’s information at the fingertips, everything is being recorded these days. Spreading fast across continents.

Comparistic democracy:

It is easy to see what is going on in other countries. They can come up to say, “Hey, see what is going on in this country, we also want something like that here as well.”

When this happens, people begin to make unrealistic demands. This could be of their government or their democracy in general.

At the end of the day, if these voices succeed in their cries, some things change. For example, the overall structure of a country’s democracy can change. New rules might be implemented and the constitution of the country might undergo a major review.

Conclusion

It is not strange that social media carries this much weight. It is, after all, a community, and what is as powerful as a community that comes together.

Social media has been manipulated in times past to undermine democracy. Sadly, this might not be the end of it.

We can only hope that these manipulations are not employed negatively but positively. Hopefully, it will be used to the effect of helping to improve the quality of the democracies of nations across our country and beyond, to the farthest reaches of the globe.

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