Social Media's Threat To Democracy

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by vrDrew, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #1
    A fascinating discussion of the topic, courtesy of The Economist

    I can think of no better example of the phenomenon of the duelling protest groups that showed up in Houston last year.

    In another age we could have relied on journalism, as a profession, to temper this sort of problem. Honest, unbiased, and professional newspaper, TV, and radio journalists would have helped people figure out what the truth was. That there really wasn't a "Heart of Texas" organization any more than there was a "Save Islamic Knowledge" movement.

    But in the age of Fox News, the notion of "alternate facts" means that people can believe whatever they want. When half the population actually believes that the "mainstream media" is actually a threat to American freedom, we can hardly be surprised when they fall victim to the lies put out by Vladimir Putin's spies and trolls.
     
  2. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
  3. duffman9000 macrumors 68000

    duffman9000

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2003
    Location:
    Deep in the Depths of CA
    #3
    I thought conservatives wanted the freedom to believe whatever idiocy they want?

    People are stuck in their echo chamber. Even if told truth some wouldn’t believe it.
     
  4. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000

    BoxerGT2.5

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #4
    It's not really left or right issue. Most of my friends on FB lean left and I've seen a fair share of them "share" political tripe. I have a buddy of mine who I used to play softball with you mine as well just go live in a shanty in Mississippi and insulate himself from the unpatriotic "liberals" who seek to destroy our country and make all our kids gay. It goes both ways.
     
  5. duffman9000 macrumors 68000

    duffman9000

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2003
    Location:
    Deep in the Depths of CA
    #5
    ^your buddy sounds like my conservative friends. My buddy’s wife told me to go back to my native lands since I hate America so much lol. I told her my skin tone matches all the natives around me I think I lll stay where I’m at.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 2, 2017 ---
    And it will be done on the cheap.
     
  6. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    #6
    Yup.

    Even my own mother shared a junk news post that claimed the DC Metro subway system "insulted" Trump by not including his picture on the commemorative SmarTrip fare card that was planned for his inauguration. I had to call her out on it, telling her that the story was at least a week old, and that Metro had reached to the Trump organization for a photo but didn't receive a response in time for the cards to be printed.

    Most of my FB friends are pretty middle-of-the-road, if not left-leaning, but the fringes at both ends make the feed distasteful. I kinda want to leave completely, but I also feel like nudging them back into reality once in a while, lest the whole FB community becomes its own high-strung echo chamber of hysteria.
     
  7. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #7
    In true fairness. social media was here first
     
  8. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2016
    #8
    I don't see how the spread of independent, social media by regular Jane's and Joe's is a threat to Democracy, it actually bolsters it IMO. I do see this new phenomenon a threat to legacy media though. Before the internet became mainstream you could only get information from the newspapers and cable news. Well, most of them are owed by huge corporations, and with that caveat comes special interests. It's no secret the scripts the commentators get on national cable news such as CNN, FOX, CBS, and ABC are specially crated to get out their own agendas. The board of directors clearly decide what stories to push and who to target at the perfect timing. That pretty much equates to a disingenuous propaganda tool. They're not out to report what concerns the general public, but rather what benefits their parent company for profit and whatever political party the're in bed with to get legislation passed. So, its no wonder why people have turned to alternative media, as they realize the dishonest reporting from the general MSM and realize that the truth has been twisted, and the commentators are so opinionated in a dishonest attempt to sway public opinion in today's climate.
     
  9. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #9
    I don't really understand why so many people get their news from social media.

    That seems, to me, to be akin to getting medical advice from people I meet at a barbecue, or car repair tips from people in line at the grocery store. The people passing on the information might be very nice folks - but I have zero idea as to their qualifications, or to the accuracy of whatever it is they tell me.

    I see it here all the time. Links to stories that are pretty obviously junk, if not to outright fake, news. And you could probably spend a full eight-hour day batting down and debunking stuff like that, just that got posted on PRSI.

    Facebook has no business being in the news business. Neither does Google. And the sooner they alter their business models to reflect that fact, the better off we're all going to be.
     
  10. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000

    BoxerGT2.5

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #10
    I had a patient once come in for an issue. She didn't like what the plan of action was and then came out with, "I read on google". To which my response was, "So you want to do what google says?".
     
  11. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    #11
    If you expect these social media companies to curb political propaganda and organized social engineering. Then you can't stop there. You would have to expect the same when it comes to religion.

    When you watch a former Muslim talk about how he realized Islam is not a good religion, then realize it's sponsored by a Christian organization which they made no mention of ............. Is that also worthy of shutting down?
     
  12. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #12
    No, it doesn't.

    On the rare occasion that the New York Times or Washington Post get a fact in a story wrong, they print a correction. They have a large staff of full-time trained employees to check not just the accuracy of stories they publish, but also make decisions about their ultimate newsworthiness. Even Fox News puts up a retraction when they get called on a particularly false story.

    None of that is true of the trash and idiocy people post on social media. When was the last time a Facebook friend put up a retraction? Or took any responsibility for spreading lies, rumors, and nonsense? I can think of (at least) a couple of former PRSI posters who pretty much every day put stories that were either false, several years out of date, or otherwise misleading. Those people never once took responsibility for their screwups.

    Telling lies and spreading rumors without consequence is not my idea of democracy.
     
  13. darksithpro, Nov 2, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2017

    darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2016
    #13

    People should be smart enough not to take whatever random friend says on Facebook, or Twitter at face value. It's up to that individual to fact check for themselves through multiple sources. Same goes with the legacy media. It's been proven throughout the decades that the MSM gets it wrong all the time. A lot of the corrections come from other, lesser media outlets calling out the legacy MSM on their reporting. That wouldn't be the case if we didn't have more independent social media. You're actually proving my point when it comes to the MSM making retractions and corrections. You think those retractions would be as common as they're today if we where back in the 80's and 90's when all you had was print media and cable news? I think not.
     
  14. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #14
    Shouldn't be too hard to take down the overweight people faster this time around.
     
  15. obeygiant macrumors 68040

    obeygiant

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2002
    Location:
    totally cool
    #15

    It would be stupid to completely trust the MSM print or broadcast. Social media despite it's flaws is a voice from the public
     
  16. BoxerGT2.5 macrumors 68000

    BoxerGT2.5

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2008
    #16
    Print and TV media aren't free from outside influences. They also don't always do the right thing either when they screw up.
     
  17. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2016
    #17

    Right, the fact remains these MSM entities, with their editors and CEO's that have their weekly conference meetings with their staff and decide what narrative to push. The scrips are already drafted and modified for their daily and nightly commentary on the networks; the talking pundits already pre-selected and coached on what to say for the opinionated talking piece. They have nothing to do with what concerns the public in general, but the agenda the corporation want's to go with, versus the social media guys and gals on Youtube and other social media, that actually discuses what concerns people, using multiple media articles, from different sources.
     
  18. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Scotland
    #18
    Again, this is why the Russia probe is important. It shoudln't be about Trump's campaign only. That is a part of the investigation, but I think Russia is trying to destabilise the US in exactly the same way we destabilised Poland and East Germany. I think all of us need to be vigilant to the possibility the posts we read online are propaganda of one sort or another, and we (yes, that includes me) need to calm down and show each other more respect. Coming out of this period more united than ever would be a fine way to give Putin the finger. If we don't, we'll be attacked like this not only by rather crude efforts like Russia's but also other potential adversaries (PRC, NK, Iran) and perhaps even some allies....
     
  19. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #19
    Wrong thread, mate?
     
  20. VulchR macrumors 68020

    VulchR

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Location:
    Scotland
    #20
    Social media is not the problem (in fact I think it is good overall). The problem is manipulation of social media, just like manipulation of the news.
     
  21. Zenithal macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    #21
    No, no. Sorry, I thought I was in the Uber/Lyft thread. Though I do agree with you. Clinton and Trump spent a combined 80M on traditional advertisement models, and in the end, social media won. I know a thing or two about spreading propaganda.
     
  22. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Location:
    Midlife, Midwest
    #22
    Well, it is worth remembering that Putin's Russian trolls were hard at work in both France and Germany when they had elections in the past year. And they were overall less successful than they were in the US or UK (in the run-up to Brexit.)

    Was this because they had more of an uphill battle in France and Germany? Or was it because Facebook itself is seen, and used, differently in those countries. Because the traditional media is seen as more reliable and trustworthy? Or is it because of something else?

    As someone noted about the failures of tech over the past forty years: We were promised flying cars and space travel. We ended up with Facebook and WhatsApp. If all that Facebook represented was an annoying waste of time for self-involved teenagers I could live with it. But once it starts to undermine not just our democracy, but the very fabric of civil society - it's time to take a stand.
     
  23. 0007776 Suspended

    0007776

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #23
    Without knowing enough about the domestic media markets in those countries I would guess it is because more people in the US get their news from entertainment sources and have for well over a decade. On the right it is talk radio, and on the left it is the late night comedy shows. Since both sides have a biased news source to point to on the other side they grow to distrust the media more in the US sand instead put their trust in anyone who has a keyboard and has figured out a way to get an audience.
     
  24. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2015
    #24
    But they’re not, are they?

    Anyway...

    You didn’t need to write the rest of your post because this idea falls flat on its face.

    The internet is being flooded with junk “sources” peddling fake and/or inflammatory stories that have nothing to do with actual facts — and, worse, are never retracted or corrected.

    Google’s search engine is being gamed by advertisers and purveyors of falsehoods, all in the name of chasing click revenue. You WILL NOT find quality, well-researched results about a story by simply “Googling it”. You’ll need to spend an hour at a time, picking through the chaff, finding sources that aren’t sensationalizing lies.

    But do all your friends do that? Nope. They say, “OMG, this is crazy,” and click Share.

    ....

    The worst thing about social media is that it REFLECTS OURSELVES. It’s a beast of our own making. It shows me how ugly some of my family and friends really are.

    That’s what I hate about it the most.
     
  25. oneMadRssn macrumors 601

    oneMadRssn

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Location:
    New England
    #25
    I agree, but I think there is another issue with social media. The companies want to be media companies, without any of the responsibility.

    Zoom out, and Facebook isn't so different from the New York Times. Both put out content and sell ads. Except the NYT has journalistic standards, doesn't put out just anyone's content, and has a far smaller audience. On the other side, FB has no standards, puts out anyone's content, and has a huge audience. But companies like FB want to see themselves as some kind of special silicon valley disruptor company, not a boring old media company. And they've thrown out all the responsibility in the process. I hope that 2016 and 2017 are showing them how irresponsible this has been, and they are taking half-hearted baby steps in the right direction. It's going to take a lot more social and political pressure though.
     

Share This Page

31 November 2, 2017