A blog to give a voice to our concern about the continued erosion of our democratic processes not only within the House of Commons and within our electoral system but also throughout our society. Here you will find articles about the current problems within our parliamentary democracy, about actions both good and bad by our elected representatives, about possible solutions, opinions and debate about the state of democracy in Canada, and about our roles/responsibilities as democratic citizens. We invite your thoughtful and polite comments upon our posts and ask those who wish to post longer articles or share ideas on this subject to submit them for inclusion as a guest post.
Contact us at democracyunderfire@gmail.com

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Is Facebook a threat to democracy?

Regular readers of this blog / forum (all two or three of you) will know I am no great fan of Facecrap and in fact do not subscribe to it and so my concerns are based upon second hand reports and observations, however this article shows others more knowledgeable have similar concerns.

Taylor Owen an assistant professor of Digital Media at UBC writes “The Facebook model has also incentivized the spread of low-quality clickbait over high-quality information, enabled a race to the bottom for monetized consumer surveillance.........”

“A key feature of the platform is that each user sees a personalized news feed chosen for them by Facebook. This microtargeting enables buyers to define audiences in racist, bigoted and otherwise highly discriminatory ways......” This type of misinformation is not eclusive to Facecrap, in point of fact almost any information obtained on the internet must be viewed with the source in mind, even reading the morning news on line reveals the wide variety of sources and often misleading or outright deliberate misinformation out there. Even with 'ad block' enabled many platforms find ways to bombard you with 'opinion' peices and unrequested content.

“The Facebook system is also a potent political weapon....... Bloomberg reported that in the final weeks of the U.S. election, Facebook and Google employees collaborated with extreme activist groups to help them microtarget divisive ads to swing-state voters...... content regularly goes viral regardless of its quality or veracity, disorienting and misleading huge audiences.” That a total moron like Trump can be elected to a suposedly democratic country like the U.S. of Eh clearly demonstrates the “power” of the internet and how spin doctors can sway public opinion and “buy” an election!

“How exactly should the Canadian government (or for that matter any govenment) protect the integrity of the next federal election, in which interest groups, corporations, foreign actors and political campaigns may all run hundreds of thousands, or millions, of simultaneous microtargeted ads a day? “ Thats a damned good question and one which I fear there is no good answer to given the prevalance of “social media” and the ease and speed with which 'news' (truthfull and accurate or otherwise) can be spread.

With so many people “communicating” via Facecrap and other “social media” there is a great deal of pressure to join the crowd in order to “talk” to friends and other who are not avalable on line by other means but this old fart will continue to avoid the temptation!

Mr Owen's full article may be read at https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/is-facebook-a-threat-to-democracy/article36661905/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&
Readers CAN comment on my remarks via the blogger comment link at the bottom of the page......

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


Anonymous said...

The same personalized algorithms are used by YouTube and Twitter to a somewhat lesser amount. We only see articles etc from posters who live within our bubble.

Originally designed to provide.advertisers with a more targeted base of potential consumers and increase FBs ad rates.

It is somewhat ironic that corporate greed and the publics consumerism led to what could be considered the end of democracy in the US.


Lorne said...

Good to see you back, Rural. the problem your post outlines is a serious one, but it is not unique to FB. The kinds of narrow casting it enables is only one of the many means by which people can have their ideological bents fed.

For example, I get Google alerts sent to my email on climate-change articles. I also subscribe to a newsletter on the same topic, the same way those who are bent can subscribe to racist sites, etc. I realize this is not quite what you are talking about here, but the fact that ads are targeted according to readers' interests are but another application of the same technology.

The Internet is only as good or as bad as people decide to make it.

Owen Gray said...

What really threatens our democracy, Rural, is our inability to talk across the divide.

Rural said...

Owen, I admit to be highly biased on this subject but remain very troubled by the impact that social media is having upon society.

Rural said...

Lorne, like it or not we all tend to gravitate to a narrow field of interest and often fail to consider outside of our usual reading. Targeted ads do not help us view a wider selection.

Rural said...

Willy, we are constantly being manipulated by our internet choices!