How Social Media Changed Democracy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur taxpayers own.

In the midst of the midterm elections, many are looking to social media to see how the various platforms are preparing for the upcoming election. With fears of spreading misinformation and chaos, many are concerned that social media companies aren’t doing their best.

Social networks contribute to the polarization of parties

Many can easily see that the electoral process has been disrupted by the rise in popularity on social media over the last decade. There have always been people on the extremes of both sides of the political spectrum, but today, there are simply more public avenues to see and share their ideas.

In a recent 60 Minutes special, Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, said, “The more morally outrageous language you use, the more incendiary, the more derogatory, the more outraged you use, the more it becomes shared. The better you are at innovating.” in a new way to be divisive, we’ll pay you more likes, followers, and retweets.”

Harris said a recent Twitter study found that a post is almost guaranteed more attention if it attacks a political opponent. The more controversial the topic, the more likely it is to capture and hold viewers’ attention.

Because of this, the people with the most extreme takes are those whose posts are gaining the most traction on these social media platforms. Essentially, the harder a post is drafted, the higher the chances of going viral. Most people are moderates, so often the narrative on social media doesn’t represent the vast majority of people it can claim to represent.

Related: How to Avoid the Danger Fake News Could Pose to Your Brand

Social media platforms have created avenues for disinformation

Misinformation is one of the biggest problems that has arisen with the merger of social media and the political campaign process. In recent years, there has been an extraordinary media attack on the legitimacy of US elections fueled by the spread of unsubstantiated claims of fraud. With increased concern about potential voting and election misinformation, various groups have urged tech companies to do more.

While platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube say they are working diligently to prevent harmful claims from spreading, some platforms seem to be playing catch up. In a letter sent to the CEOs of Meta, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and Reddit expressing concern about the continued spread of misinformation through the platforms operated by those companies, California Attorney General Bonta said: “The The spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms has led to a proliferation of conspiracy theories, political violence, and threats to democracy ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.”

Many social media platforms have learned from past experience how important it is to combat the spread of misinformation and claim to take it very seriously. For example, Meta claimed that it is investing an additional $5 million in fact-checking and media literacy efforts for Facebook and Instagram ahead of Election Day.

Many of the major social media platforms have plans to prevent the spread of misinformation about voting and elections. These can be anything from warnings in a political post, misinformation labels, or even system changes that automatically recommend certain content.

People who choose to violate these rules can potentially be suspended. Unfortunately, not all policies are consistently enforced, including policies aimed at stopping harmful election misinformation. Sometimes false information can hide in places where it’s hard to keep an eye on, like the comments section of a post.

Related: What is the smear campaign and what should companies do about it?

It’s up to you

Through time and action, many companies that operate the major social media platforms have proven to society that they are incapable of self-control at the necessary level. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly important to promote media literacy and educate people on how to find reliable sources for their information.

Social media platforms are not the only cause of the recent democratic crisis, but their delay in making the necessary changes to prevent their tools from becoming platforms for hate and electoral subversion significantly impacts the democratic process.

Related: I’m a workaholic. Here are 5 ways I overcome my obsessive behaviors

Leave a Comment