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, February 17, 2019

The Echo Chamber....

Is 'Social Media an asset or an intrusive addiction? Is the ability to instantly access this stream of unfiltered information an asset or simply spreading misinformation? As someone who could be said to be addicted to the internet but is not 'on' any 'social media' I have mixed feelings about whether having the world in your hand is a good thing or a path to misinformation.
With well over 90% of adult Canadians using the internet regularly in one form or another and about 80% of those 'on' Facebook or some similar platform it can be seen how quickly 'news' (good, bad, or simply wrong) can be spread.

According to a new Nanos Research survey for The Globe and Mail more than seven in 10 Canadians think Facebook does a poor or very poor job of monitoring how the platform is used to influence politics. It also found that more than eight in 10 Canadians think Facebook is untrustworthy or somewhat untrustworthy with people’s personal data. Also, more than six in 10 Canadians say Facebook will have a negative or somewhat negative effect on the next federal election.

Twitter trolls linked to suspected foreign influence campaigns stoked controversy over pipelines and immigration in Canada, according to a CBC/Radio-Canada analysis of 9.6 million tweets from accounts since deleted. Roughly 21,600 tweets from those troll accounts directly targeted Canadians — many of them with messages critical of Canadian pipeline projects and tweets that highlighted divisions over Canada's policies on immigration and refugees......
"While social media and digital platforms create forums that allow Canadians to engage in a dialogue about important issues, they also have a record of being manipulated to spread disinformation, create confusion and exploit existing societal tensions," said Amy Butcher, a spokesperson for Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould. "We expect [social media] companies to take concrete actions to combat manipulation."
And yet so many folks think everything they read there is gospel but as we have now found out there are those out there both foreign and domestic that would try to subvert our very democracy by spreading false information via these platforms. Even our own government is jumping on the bandwagon but how much of that content is unbiased 'information' and how much is self promoting spin is debatable.

Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter now take in the lion's share of federal advertising dollars, thanks to an ongoing increase in the use of digital advertising by government departments and agencies, new figures show. Of the $39.2 million spent on government advertisements last year, federal departments spent almost $18.2 million on digital ads — roughly 46 per cent of the total budget, which doesn't include production costs.
And, for the first time ever, social media ads made up the biggest slice of digital spending — 43 per cent, or roughly $7.8 million.
Make no mistake even this 'over 70 old fart' who is one of the very few NOT on social media but who is very much aware of its power is not advocating for ditching your cell phone but think that perhaps some of those platforms should come with the same sort of warning that comes with some other equipment “Danger extended use of Social media can set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem”! . Finally there is little doubt that the outcome of our upcoming Federal election will be greatly influenced by 'millennials' who in turn will be greatly influenced by what they read on their smart phones, let us hope they are smart enough to not believe everything they read.

Millennials are also digital natives. We (they) grew up with technology and have made it a central part of our lives. To the 94% of millennials who own a smart phone, that device is our most trusted assistant. It’s our bank, our travel agent, our newspaper, our telephone, our music player, and our weather person. That device lets us watch the video content we crave, order food, and get us from one place to the next (by using the Uber app in many cities).
And to the 85% of Canadian Millennials who check Facebook at least once a day, social media is how we stay connected, find out what’s happening in the world, and increasingly the way we learn about and connect with brands.

The question is whether its the information age or the disinformation age?

A British MP committee has just released a report that mirrors my concerns regarding Social media and Facebook in particular..

"Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised 'dark adverts' from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day," concluded the report.

"The big tech companies are failing in the duty of care they owe to their users to act against harmful content, and to respect their data privacy rights."

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers


the salamander said...

.. years ago I used Facebook to succesfull follow my son & his homies great trip to Asia.. many many countries, fligjts, buses, motorcycles, hostels.. and even see their photgraphs. Soon I used it to connect to old friends, schoolmates, family etc.. be updated re birthdays etc. I post primarily Environmentally related articles, related politics and about dangerous or deeply flawed political animals.

Via Twiiter I am at approx 25,000 tweets re the same issues.. plus I tweet without fail, image sources re Art, Nature & Wildlife.. Poetry, Literature, Exemplars, Ordinary Heroes .. my adience is quite broad. Not a single complaint aside from the odd troll or crank. Few Block or Mute me. I comment only.. on the superior Indy Blogs of Canadian exemplar.. and have for years

I never get my news reading via Facebook.. I seek out valid, proven resource docs .. ignore shrill partisan.. I remain strictly non-partisan.

I believe Harper and his buddy Ray Novak et al failed Canada and Canadians
I believe the same is now underway via Justin Trudeau & his pal Gerald Butts et al
We are getting a serious repeat of 'short pants boys of the PMO' unelected partisans
I believe rhe NDP has lost its identity
I believe selling the most retail Party Memberships does not make one 'a leader'
nor does defeating Maxime Bernier on the 13th musical chairs ballot by Andrew Scheer
a last gasp lame ass bandaid by the CPC to prevent a complete loser like Bernier winning

Social Media has its values & uses..
There you go.. ! I just used YOUR BlOG on social media !
And send you a friendly HELLO ! Enjoyed the read too !

Rural said...

"Social Media has its values & uses.. "
Not saying it does not Sal, just not for me, just concerned about how it may effect said upcoming election.....

Lorne said...

I think that like almost any other technology, Rural, the internet is neither good nor bad. It is how users employ it and are influenced by it that are the real issues. Unfortunately, however, it does empower the ignorant and can cultivate the worst in human behaviour, but again, that comes back to the individual, doesn't it?

In my mind, the larger problem is the lack of critical thinking in society today. Without that skill, it is easy for people to be sucked into accepting and spreading fake news, dark conspiracies, etc. A fool is a fool, no matter what medium we are talking about.

Rural said...

As you say Lorne it is not so much the technology at fault as the manner in which it is used, unfortunately instant responses tend to encourage those unthinking 'fools'.

Owen Gray said...

I agree with, Lorne, Rural. The internet is not the problem. It's how it is used. In the end, we need to pick our sources of information carefully. Con men have been around for a long time. And they always figure out how to use the latest technology.

Rural said...

Point taken Owen, but I still will not be seen on 'social media' call it picking my sources!