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Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis

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Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis

An economy based on attention is easily gamed

The Economist,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

When it comes to promoting democracy, social media are doing more harm than good.


Editorial Rating

7

Qualities

  • Controversial
  • Background
  • Hot Topic

Recommendation

Social media helped nurture pro-democracy protests in Iran, Egypt and Ukraine and have served as a vehicle for public discourse and participation around the world. However, the use of platforms like Facebook to spread fake news and target vulnerable groups with extremist political messages has given social media a more sinister cast in recent years. This in-depth article in The Economist argues that social media increasingly undermine democratic ideals and process, and discusses possible options for regulations to safeguard democracy.

Summary

During the popular uprisings in Iran, Egypt and Ukraine, many people came to see social media as a powerful tool for promoting democracy. More recently, however, social media’s ability to spread fake news and divert people’s attention from often less exciting but more fact-based content has cast these platforms’ relationship with politics in a more sinister light. The Russian government, for example, has made social media a cornerstone of its disinformation campaigns aimed at shoring up support at home and at destabilizing governments abroad.

Today, 40% of the digital...

About the Author

The Economist is a British weekly news magazine published in London, UK. 


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