Digital Space and Democracy

Important excerpts from The Hindu (with inputs):

Some data –

  • ‘Global Disinformation Order’ – a study by Oxford University shows evidence of organised social media manipulation campaigns that have taken place in 70 countries, up from 48 countries in 2018 and 28 countries in 2017. In each country, there is at least one political party or government agency using social media to shape public attitudes domestically. This highlights the grave danger that social media poses to the democracy of a country.
  • In 26 countries, computational propaganda is being used as a tool of information control in three distinct ways: to suppress fundamental human rights, discredit political opponents, and drown out dissenting opinions.

What are the problems –

  • Digital disruption has created many silos in our public discourse. Instead of dialogue we have been reduced to becoming recipients of the noise generated by echo chambers. They have become so powerful that they deny the space to even give the other person the benefit of the doubt.
  • Fake news through Digital Channels can have psychological impact on the masses and can lead to unrest.

What is the way ahead –

  • There is a need to monitor the digital space to study the organised manipulation of social media.
  • Regulating social media channels – e.g. Madras HC has held that social media platforms can be held accountable for the spread of fake news through their platform.
  • Some quotes –
  • “Good democracy relies on good information.” – Alan Rusbridger.
  • “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” – Arthur Miller (Famous Playwright).