Is Social Media Destroying Our Democracies?

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NorthReport
Is Social Media Destroying Our Democracies?
alan smithee alan smithee's picture

I think the simple and accurate opinion is YES. Too much bullshit floating around facebook and twitter etc.....

Pondering

No it isn't. It opens up an opportunity. It wildly increases the potential for democracy. It undermines traditional media's monopoly on mass communication. I wonder if someone like Bernie Sanders could have risen so high without social media. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
No it isn't. It opens up an opportunity. It wildly increases the potential for democracy.

The dream:  "Discussing the new immigration bill online, with a diverse group of citizens and stakeholders, helped me to better understand what's being proposed, and being able to fact-check various claims meant I could consider the real costs involved."

The reality:  "FreedomPatriot.org says that if elected, the Democrats would force everyone to adopt a gay Costa Rican refugee, so of course I immediately forwarded that to my 341 Facebook friends!"

NorthReport

Well it sure has given every sicko on the planet a platform if the freaks who responded here are any indication 

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.thestar.com/amp/vancouver/2019/04/17/this-woman-asked-trudeau-about-islamophobia-then-the-online-hate-began.html

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
No it isn't. It opens up an opportunity. It wildly increases the potential for democracy.

The dream:  "Discussing the new immigration bill online, with a diverse group of citizens and stakeholders, helped me to better understand what's being proposed, and being able to fact-check various claims meant I could consider the real costs involved."

The reality:  "FreedomPatriot.org says that if elected, the Democrats would force everyone to adopt a gay Costa Rican refugee, so of course I immediately forwarded that to my 341 Facebook friends!"

Sure it also gives opposition the opportunity to spread hate and misinformation but if progressives can't win the argument it isn't the fault of the medium being used. We have greater opportunity to reach people through social media than we ever did through traditional mediums. Telephone chains were much more arduous to use than facebook. Activists worldwide have an unprecedented ability to contact one another instantly. 

"The Dream" is unrealistic. That facebook doesn't provide a venue for in depth discussions is immaterial. Where would the Young Turks be without Youtube?  We link to youtube political videos frequently. There are lots of speeches I would never have heard or read about were it not for Youtube. 

I don't think activists are using social media as well as they could be using it (yet) but that is not the fault of the medium. 

Unionist

Quote:
Is Social Media Destroying Our Democracy?

Not sure. But I do know that social media are destroying our grammar.

cco

I don't think it's fair to blame the Latin abuse of using "media" as a singular word on social media, since I've heard it since long before Twitter and Facebook were around.

josh

It lessens the opportunity for consideration and perspective.  Increases the opportunity for participation and exchange of views. 

Pondering

The word medium has two plural forms—mediums and media—and which one you use depends on what you're talking about.

If your subject is art, it's okay to use mediums or media. For science and communication, media is generally preferred. And if you're talking about fortunetellers and psychics, you always refer to them as mediums.

https://www.shmoop.com/grammar/spelling/media-vs-medium.html

Unionist

cco wrote:
I don't think it's fair to blame the Latin abuse of using "media" as a singular word on social media, since I've heard it since long before Twitter and Facebook were around.

You're absolutely correct, of course. I was just trying to be cute (with my usual limited success). I blame the author of the thread title. And I think it's undeniable that social media allow linguistic usages, whether right or wrong, to proliferate exponentially.

Unionist

Pondering wrote:

The word medium has two plural forms—mediums and media—and which one you use depends on what you're talking about.

If your subject is art, it's okay to use mediums or media. For science and communication, media is generally preferred. And if you're talking about fortunetellers and psychics, you always refer to them as mediums.

https://www.shmoop.com/grammar/spelling/media-vs-medium.html

Good point! But still, both "mediums" and "media" is plural. Neither one are singular.

MegB

Not the first time I've, and others, thought a "like" button would be helpful here. But we're not FB and real time here relies on how often you refresh the browser. Anyway, carry on.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

MegB wrote:

Not the first time I've, and others, thought a "like" button would be helpful here. But we're not FB and real time here relies on how often you refresh the browser. Anyway, carry on.

Despite the need to refresh the page to see an up to date count, I would vote for a like button.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Unionist wrote:

Good point! But still, both "mediums" and "media" is plural. Neither one are singular.

I see what you did there. ;)

Unionist

MegB wrote:

Not the first time I've, and others, thought a "like" button would be helpful here. But we're not FB and real time here relies on how often you refresh the browser. Anyway, carry on.

Unionist

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Good point! But still, both "mediums" and "media" is plural. Neither one are singular.

I see what you did there. ;)

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Remember when babble had emoticons?

Mobo2000

Ug, thumbs down on the like button from me.   Facebook should be more like babble, not the other way around.

Unionist

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Remember when babble had emoticons?

You mean, like, 10 years ago maybe? I vaguely do.

Mobo2000

I would like a poll feature on babble instead of like buttons -- where a babbler could set a poll question and available responses, and only 1 vote per account.  

Unionist

Mobo2000 wrote:

I would like a poll feature on babble instead of like buttons -- where a babbler could set a poll question and available responses, and only 1 vote per account.  

Agreed. But didn't we use to have that, or is it my vivid imagination acting up again? E.g., what was madmax referring to here?

cco

EnMasse (may it rest in peace) had a like button. People, er, liked it.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm not sad there's no "Like" button here.  If people like a post they can say so, but I don't see much merit in being able to do so anonymously and silently.  It certainly doesn't encourage discussion.  I'd also be leery of it being used to "crowdsource" who is right and who is wrong.

NorthReport

We are no match for what is out there unless we act 

Beware the ‘Weaponized’ Web, Says Guy Who Helped Elect Trump

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie on Facebook, democracy and hope.

Is there hope?

I think there is. The fact that in under a year it’s become such a prevalent conversation I think is really hopeful. A year and a half ago, it was a niche, abstract issue talked about at the ivory towers of the university. Now it’s in mainstream political discourse.

The first step to any kind of social change is awareness. We can’t move anywhere until people are aware that there’s a problem. I am hopeful because only a couple years ago, these giant tech companies were seen as sort of the saviours of mankind, but now kind of look like another douchey oil company who are trying to hide what they do, trying to whitewash and greenwash or in this case machine-wash what they’re doing. But actually it’s all bullshit, and it’s just another big corporation. I think people are starting to wake up to that and that actually is what makes me hopeful. Regular people who don’t have tech backgrounds are starting to talk about it.  [Tyee]

https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/04/19/Beware-Weaponized-Web/

NorthReport

Toward a Youth Manifesto on Digital Rights and Responsibilities

Workshop has students explore issues around growing up in the digital age.

https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/04/17/Youth-Manifesto-Digital-Rights-Workshop/

WWWTT

Mobo2000 wrote:

Ug, thumbs down on the like button from me.   Facebook should be more like babble, not the other way around.

Agreed. 

It would create a bunch of problems. If you write a good comment and nobody likes, the writer may be discouraged. If you write a comment in a certain manner and it gets likes, you may be encouraged to keep writing comments in a similar fashion. 

When I was on fb, I had already seen and heard many complaints that went something like this. 

Going out drinking with with friends tomorrow and getting shit faced! 765 likes

The government is increasing military spending and cutting funding for education 5 likes  

Now that’s an extreme example that probably wouldn’t translate the same way on babble, but you get where I’m getting at  

Oh I forgot to add, you can already like someone’s comment, just wright another comment saying so!


 

WWWTT

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I'm not sad there's no "Like" button here.  If people like a post they can say so, but I don't see much merit in being able to do so anonymously and silently.  It certainly doesn't encourage discussion.  I'd also be leery of it being used to "crowdsource" who is right and who is wrong.

agreed

WWWTT

Is Social Media Destroying Our Democracies?

For me this is an odd thread title. I’m no fan of the imperialist invention “western democracy”, so I sure as hell wouldn’t defend it!

Also, isn’t babble social media? Is babble hurting western democracies?

NorthReport

Nothing is perfect but sorely needed.

Confronting the Disinformation Age

 

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2019/04/17/opinion/disinformation-will-only-ramp-we-approach-federal-election

Martin N.

Social media's greatest accomplishment is proving Einstein correct. When asked the difference between genius and stupidity, Einstein said that genius has limits.

I think a 'like' feature is needed but not a 'dislike' feature.

NorthReport

Probably a prudent jesture.

Social media shut down in Sri Lanka in bid to stem misinformation

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/21/social-media-shut-down-in-sri-lanka-in-bid-to-stem-misinformation

cco

I hope I never see the day I consider widespread censorship a "prudent gesture".

WWWTT

Disagree cco!

over 200 died. Assuming that the Sri Lankan government wants to stop violence there, they will take steps they feel is necessary to stop violence. I don’t see how not shutting down social media for a while would prevent further violence?

voice of the damned

WWWTT wrote:

Disagree cco!

over 200 died. Assuming that the Sri Lankan government wants to stop violence there, they will take steps they feel is necessary to stop violence. I don’t see how not shutting down social media for a while would prevent further violence?

If 200 people were murdered by some wacked-out group in Canada, and PM Jason Kenney announced he was shutting down Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, would you assume it's all about stopping violence, and trust him not to abuse the censorship?  

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

But conversely, if social media egged on retaliations against that wacked-out group (or just people who look like them), resulting in another hundred deaths, would we believe the PM if he said "well, there wasn't anything we could do about that.  We can't just block Facebook when someone needs to check and see if their friend liked that kitten picture!".

I think Sri Lanka recognizes that social media is about to enjoy an unprecedented cascade of hate speech (and I mean the actual kind, the "incitement to violence" kind) and that they simply won't be able to deal with it on a case-by-case basis.

voice of the damned

Mr. Magoo wrote:

But conversely, if social media egged on retaliations against that wacked-out group (or just people who look like them), resulting in another hundred deaths, would we believe the PM if he said "well, there wasn't anything we could do about that.  We can't just block Facebook when someone needs to check and see if their friend liked that kitten picture!".

I think Sri Lanka recognizes that social media is about to enjoy an unprecedented cascade of hate speech (and I mean the actual kind, the "incitement to violence" kind) and that they simply won't be able to deal with it on a case-by-case basis.

So, basically, as you see it, in this case, social media is equivalent to the guy who. seeing a brawl already in progress, runs up and starts yelling "Come on, you guys, let's see some more punches here!", knowing that his incitements are likely to inspire the combatants to keep going.

If so, yeah, I agree, banning that sort of thing is probably justified under the accepted prohibition of incitement. I'd still be a bit worried about the government's overall intentions, however, given that banning social media entirely(rather than simply banning calls to blow up churches or attack Muslims) also removes a lot of OTHER discussion and debate from the public square, eg. if I see some cops beating up on some Muslims ostensibly to get info about the bombings, but it looks more like they're just on a revenge spree, I won't be able to film that and put it on social media.

cco

The ability to restrict how and what people communicate is one I simply don't trust any government with. Not even if it's a government I like, and they swear it's only temporary, and I'm convinced the people it's restricting are literally Nazis.

I recognize that in Canada that's a bit of a fringe position. Try this logic out:

While nobody's claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, the choice of victim group, location, and date strongly suggests that the attacks had something to do with religion. If the Sri Lankan government banned all religious observances for a while, just to keep people safe, how many people would find that acceptable?

"We can't deal with the threat on a case-by-case basis, so we targeted the entire group, just to keep it simple." Some variant of that statement has been the justification for nearly all of the worst policies in human history, and I'm including the ones we know by the name "genocides". When the group's as broad as "people who want to speak" (and the content of social media is speech, regardless of how trivial, ugly, untrue, or instantaneous it is), how does that make it okay?

I have a real philosophical allergy to the word "incitement". It removes personal agency and responsibility, and puts all the blame on those nasty ideas that made people unable to control themselves. It's Orwellian in the truest sense of the word.

voice of the damned

cco wrote:

While nobody's claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, the choice of victim group, location, and date strongly suggests that the attacks had something to do with religion. If the Sri Lankan government banned all religious observances for a while, just to keep people safe, how many people would find that acceptable?

I take your point. There is arguably something threateningly "newfangled" about social media that might make it a more acceptable target for attack compared to more "venerable" and time-honoured means of communication. "Yes, okay, a priest can just as easily scream 'KILL ALL THE MUSLIMS!!' during his homily at mass as he can post the same words on twitter, and sure, given the 'right' kind of audience, he could probably cause a lot of carnage by saying that, but shutting down churches is Just. Not. Done."

I have a real philosophical allergy to the word "incitement". It removes personal agency and responsibility, and puts all the blame on those nasty ideas that made people unable to control themselves. It's Orwellian in the truest sense of the word.

I don't like the idea of prohibiting incitement in the general sense, eg. even the most misogynistic cartoonist at Hustler shouldn't be held responsible if someone unknown to him goes out and beats his wife after reading a cartoon. But, on the other hand, in my original example of the guy cheering on a bunch of people engaged in a beating, you don't think he should be held legally liable? I don't think even Hugo Black would have gone along with that one.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
given that banning social media entirely(rather than simply banning calls to blow up churches or attack Muslims) also removes a lot of OTHER discussion and debate from the public square

I'm very sympathetic to that argument.  If I thought that simply banning those incitements would actually prevent them in any meaningful way, I'd suggest that's the way to go.  But in a powderkeg situation, the best that could do is allow the government to try to get a subpoena to find out the real name of "RealPatriot733" after the fact, while others are burying more bodies. 

Quote:
I have a real philosophical allergy to the word "incitement". It removes personal agency and responsibility, and puts all the blame on those nasty ideas that made people unable to control themselves.

I agree in one sense -- I wouldn't have much patience for any member of a lynch mob claiming "it's not my fault; others incited me".

But at the same time, I think we know incitement can work.  Lynch mobs surely weren't just the result of a hundred townspeople forming the same intention at the same instant.

Here it's a tradeoff.  People aren't being prevented from communicating with one another.  They're being prevented from using a handful of computer applications to do so.  I'd argue that a curfew or a quarantine infringes much further on your rights.

WWWTT

Ultimately in the end it’s the Sri Lanka people that have to live without social media. The same people who have to live with a threat of getting blown up. 

I find it a kind of rich that some posters here think that they couldn’t live without social media, but for some reason, living with the threat and possibility of dieing from a bomb is a perfectly ok price to pay to enjoy social media?!?!?!?  

Now I know the argument is that the two aren’t connected and that the government is using this as a cover, but really, that’s borderion false flag conspiracy theory 

Also keep in mind that these acts of violence will have a huge negative impact on the Sri Lanka tourism economy. Tens of thousands will probably lose some amount of income not to mention the negative impact on the overall economy. 

From some quick reading 100k Sri Lankan’s have died over the years from in fighting. Shutting down the internet to regain control of the country sounds logical and well within reason. 

cco

voice of the damned wrote:

But, on the other hand, in my original example of the guy cheering on a bunch of people engaged in a beating, you don't think he should be held legally liable? I don't think even Hugo Black would have gone along with that one.

The culpability spectrum is, of course, something courts have spent a lot of time on. I'll make a qualified statement that I think the threshold for incitement should be pretty close to the threshold for actual conspiracy. You could quibble in court about whether "cheering on" is the same thing as "directing".

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I agree in one sense -- I wouldn't have much patience for any member of a lynch mob claiming "it's not my fault; others incited me".

But at the same time, I think we know incitement can work.  Lynch mobs surely weren't just the result of a hundred townspeople forming the same intention at the same instant.

Here it's a tradeoff.  People aren't being prevented from communicating with one another.  They're being prevented from using a handful of computer applications to do so.  I'd argue that a curfew or a quarantine infringes much further on your rights.

But the apps are being targeted precisely because they're popular means of communication. There's nothing really inherent in Facebook that makes it more dangerous than Babble.

I'm against curfews too (especially how they're generally enforced), but I think quarantine is an interesting choice of comparison. People are quarantined because they involuntarily spread disease through contact (give or take the assholes who have measles parties). When infection isn't certain, or requires some kind of voluntary action to contract, people are far less keen on quarantines. Canada's moving towards decriminalizing non-disclosure of HIV status. And while incitement can certainly be traced as a root cause of violent action sometimes, I don't think anybody's made a case that some words are so evil that they're impossible to resist being infected by.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

voice of the damned wrote:

But, on the other hand, in my original example of the guy cheering on a bunch of people engaged in a beating, you don't think he should be held legally liable?

He would be committing a Criminal Code offense under Section 22(2).

So what do we make of a rogue counselor or one who gives, not just bad advice, but advice to commit a criminal offence and an offence is in fact committed? Section 22 of the Criminal Code contemplates this very situation and places such an unscrupulous counselor in the same position as a party to an offence.

 

Section 22 has three subsections and reads as follows:

22(1) Where a person counsels another person to be a party to an offence and that other person is afterwards a party to that offence, the person who counseled is a party to that offence, notwithstanding that the offence is committed in a way different from that which was counseled.

(2) Every one who counsels another person to be a party to an offence is a party to every offence that the other commits in consequence of the counseling that the person who counseled knew or ought to have known was likely to be committed in consequence of the counseling.

 (3) For the purposes of this Act, “counsel” includes procure, solicit or incite.

 

There are a number of really interesting points to be made about this section. First, let’s review subsection 1. Not only does this section, as mentioned earlier, deem the counselor as a participant in the actual offence committed but it also attaches criminal liability to the counselor even if the manner in which the actual crime is committed differs from the manner in which the crime was counselled to be committed. An example of this is when Y counsels X to commit a murder by shooting B with a gun but in fact X uses a knife to kill B.  Y is still a party to the murder, even thought the manner of killing is different.

 Second, in 22(2) we see a broadening of the liability. Any person who counsels a crime is a party to every offence the counseled party commits as a result of the counseling as long as the counselor knew or “ought to have known” that such a crime was likely to be committed as a result of the counseling. We will come back to this “knew or ought to have known” concept a little later but this section captures a broader range of conduct. In this situation, if Y counsels X to rob Z of money and X not only robs Z but kills him, then Y may be a s.22 party if Y knew that murder was a likely consequence of his counseling.

http://www.ideablawg.ca/blog/2014/6/6/when-counseling-is-a-crime-section...

NorthReport