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Internet Age
Social Media and Democracy

The internet and the rise of social media has changed the terms of the free speech debate worldwide—but in the U.S. context, the burden of any move towards control of bad information may have to rest on the platforms themselves.

Published on: October 30, 2017
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  • AnonymoussSoldier

    Yep. A few thousand dollars of ads bought by Russians definitely swing the election against Hillary’s billion dollar war chest. Yep. Yep. Including her $12 million fake pee pee dossier. Let’s get one thing straight. Facebook and Twitter regularly censor comments, so by definition they are not neutral anyway. And that’s why alternatives that do not censor have grown by leaps and bounds the past 18 months or so.

    In 2002-2003 I was a tech savvy teenager and I was regularly on darknet sites (they were significantly more difficult to reach in those days). I was talking to people there who had it 100% correct about the fake news and lies being spun around WMDs in Iraq. You name it, CNN, NBC, ABC all played a role in pumping that lie. If Facebook was around do you think they would’ve censored fake news about WMDs in Iraq? Unlikely. Because it was coming from the alphabet soup.

    I had to go to the darknet to find intelligent people talking about the real issue, like hans blix testimony in late 2002 that they had conducted 700 inspections at 500 different sites and that the evidence was not indicative of a nuclear weapon or anything close to it. Oh no. They didn’t want to hear that. And who turned out to be factually correct?

    • Suzy Dixon

      I have never seen anyone slit their own throat the way the MSM has this past year by pumping lies for the establishment Democrats, and then continuing to stick with it even after the loss. My goodness gracious. The whole thing was a setup. Clinton and Manafort and Tony Podesta. All of them up to their eyeballs in sketchy Russian money. A week ago Mueller was looking into Tony Podesta and his connections to Manafort and lookat that. Indictment. Haha.

      • Unelected Leader

        Yeah well they’re simply experts at backing themselves into a corner. They want to claim the $12 million for the fake pisgate dossier from actual Russian government officials was “opposition research” and then on the same hand claim that the Don Jr. meeting with a random Russian lady wasn’t opposition research..? Yawn. These people are just absolutely crazy and finished. They have no idea how idiotic they appear because they really are crazy. I’m convinced of that now. It’s no longer about being wrong and sticking to your guns in an arrogant way. Almost foaming at the mouth crazy, they are.

        • CheckYourself

          That’s an amazing point UL. Seeing that made elsewhere as well. They can’t have their cake and eat too anymore. Too many of us are awake now. Too many lies and too much absurdity from them for too long.

    • Strigine Sage

      You are fake news.

  • Anthony

    Francis Fukuyama stands correct; that is, platform neutrality reads harmlessly but in practice we have experienced disinformation, attempts at divisiveness, fragmentation, and manipulation. Yes, our democracy cannot be so overconfident (as we benefit from a liberal democracy rather than an authoritarian one) that we overlook real need for social/structural updates to our current media platforms (“the burden of any move towards control of bad information in the United States may rest on the platforms themselves.”).

    “The platforms’ business models exacerbate the problem with algorithms that optimize for virality and accelerate the rate at which conspiracy stories and controversial posts are passed along.” (Francis Fukuyama)

  • Fat_Man

    German law passed by the Bundestag over the summer to criminalize fake news, setting huge penalties of up to €50 million for platforms that allow such content to appear”

    That is just going to kill the New York Times.

    • Teac Smith

      It won’t kill them the liberals dictate what is “fake news”

  • PierrePendre

    The solution clearly is to strangle the Internet with regulation to ensure that only approved speech is aired. But approved by whom is the nub. Germany’s efforts to control what is purveyed on the Internet is popular with regulation advocates but are an example of the German tendancy to authoritarianism which is part of the national DNA. How would Americans react to $50 million fines for media companies; in effect the German government is warning people that if they say things it doesn’t like, it can bankrupt them. The US social media in Germany are being invited through legislation to censor themselves which has traditionally been seen as being even worse than official censorship. You don’t know what we don’t like, you have to guess; better not guess wrong. The German government only pretends to be concerned about fake news. What it really wants to do is to stifle any dissent against its Islamisation policies. Freedom of the press had to be wrung from European governments who took care when the age of radio dawned to control it. It’s no surprise PBS is a fiefdom of liberalism. So are the BBC and the French state broacasters and I dare say those of any other European country. Now the battle is on to take editorial control of the Internet and no one would be likely to lose money betting that the liberal version of what is “true” will prevail if that happens. As individuals and collectively, we have a tendancy to fear the impact of the word whether printed or broadcast when it challenges our own beliefs and to assuage that fear by wishing to control what can be said. Mr Fukuyama needs to explain how you police the internet without creating a social media version of Pravda.

  • Beauceron

    Christ…been away for a month or so and come back to…The Atlantic.
    I’d like to say it’s odd to see an article on disinformation contain so much disinformation– but it’s par for the course with the pseudo intellectuals. The ads had little to no influence– and we know now that Russia purchased ads supporting Stein and Sanders as well as Trump– as well as supporting Leftist causes like BLM and pro-muslim campaigns.
    Of course you wouldn’t know that by reading this propaganda piece.
    The truth is that men like Fukayama see their monopoly on the narrative slipping out of their hands. And they want to stop that from happening– if they need to use Russia and “fake news” as the cover story, they’ll do that. You can’t be the gatekeepers anymore, Francis. You can argue for European-style censorship all you want. We’ll find out what you don’t want us to know. You can’t stop it.

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