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.
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Platform Web

Platforms are more like shopping malls than town squares — public to an extent, but ultimately managed according to private interests.” Taylor Owen in an article titled Why Platform Governance?
Not having heard the term 'Platform Governance' when I saw this link in reading some of Mr Owens recent posts via Progressive Bloggers and having written much about our democracy in the past I decided to find out more about it. There is a LOT of information about such ideas by various authors on the CIGI site but I will just highlight a few words from Owens post that caught my interest.
The social costs of the platform economy are manifesting themselves in the increasingly toxic nature of the digital public sphere, the amplification of misinformation and disinformation, the declining reliability of information, heightened polarization and the broad mental health repercussions of technologies designed around addictive models.
The economic costs are grounded in the market distortion created by increased monopolistic behaviour. The vast scale of the digital platform economy not only affords near-unassailable competitive advantages, but also invites abuses of monopoly power in ways that raise barriers to market entry (Wu 2018). Moreover, the ubiquity of the platform companies in the consumer marketplace creates special vulnerabilities because of the amount of control they wield over data, advertising and the curation of information.
The costs to our democracy are grounded not only in the decline of reliable information needed for citizens to be informed actors in the democratic process and the undermining of public democratic institutions, but in threats to the integrity of the electoral system itself. 
As someone who is deeply concerned about the effect that 'social media' is having upon rational discussion as clearly shown by the cluster fk that is Trumpisim in the U.S. I am pleased that much brighter minds than my own are writing of their concerns as to where digital platforms are leading us. The first paragraph in the above article highlights my main concern.
Ultimately, the platform web is made up of privately owned public spaces, largely governed by the commercial incentives of private actors, rather than the collective good of the broader society. Platforms are more like shopping malls than town squares — public to an extent, but ultimately managed according to private interests.
When 'shopping' on social media remember that such 'platforms' whilst purporting to 'serve' the public their bottom line is to make money.

Support Democracy - Recommend this Post at Progressive Bloggers

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