In robots who act as anonymous political “commentators” social network – and, in fact, are linked to governments, acting according to programmed instructions – from accounts that spread false information and political content with the intention of causing various disruptions on the platform. Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp And WireDemocracies around the world are dealing with tactics that use technology to appeal to the emotional reactions of ordinary people who post and share outrage with citizens anywhere on the planet.
For example, Facebook estimated that approximately 126 million Americans were exposed to Facebook-backed propaganda tactics. Russia During the 2016 presidential campaign, when Donald Trump And Hillary Clinton competed for the position. And Twitter has acknowledged that more than 50,000 accounts linked to Russia have used its service for the same purpose. Since then, both platforms have taken the unusual step of notifying people who have liked, followed or shared any of these posts… but only after the election.
For Katie Harbath, former policy coordinator at Facebook and now director of technology and democracy at the International Republican Institute, a non-partisan organization committed to advancing freedom and democracy around the world, calls on governments to find new ways to protect and promote democracy in the digital age. should be adapted to. And, for that, it is necessary to overcome the slowness and look for rapid response to the advancement of technology.
“Governments haven’t really been able to keep up with technology. By the time a regulation is discussed and approved, the technology has already advanced. But there is a need to create new regulations and fight misinformation with censorship. Not enough. those of us just because we don’t agree with his views and sayings”, he declared, presenting the panel on the first day of the competition, “Democracy of the Future: How Technology Will Shape Elections”. South to South West (SXSW)Which takes place from 11 to 20 March in Austin, the capital of Texas in the United States.
in an interview with business season After his presentation, he highlighted that there is no doubt that, at least since 2016, social media has become ubiquitous in our lives. “We are shaken by the stories of its devastating effects on children and adolescents, radicalizing young men and demoralizing young women. And governments are responding, albeit slowly. In the United States, the Kids Online Safety Act has reached the Senate, which needs technology platforms to implement. New controls for children and their parents and changes that prevent the promotion of certain harmful behaviors,” she explained.
Asked about the political situation in Brazil, he compared the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro to that of Trump. And he emphasized that he does not see censorship – as in the case of Trump’s ban on Twitter – as the best solution. Katie said, “I am not concerned that Trump, or Bolsonaro, may use social media. I am even more concerned that these platforms that we see and that we do not choose are potentially indecent. Will promote language and actions.”
He cited the January 2021 robot pumping of voters and the attack on the US Capitol, the main symbol of political power in the country, as saying that social media has been detrimental to democracy. But it also reports on how these platforms can contribute to democratization. “This happened during the Arab Spring that began in 2010. In the Middle East and North Africa, people rallied to speak out against government corruption and economic stagnation, calling for change. The desire for democracy was on full display”, says expert .
“But at the same time, I was recently in Brazil and I heard from people how concerned they are about using platforms like WhatsApp, TikTok and Telegram for evil. The rules in these places need to be reformed”, she reflects. Huh.
Katie points out that in mid-2019, for example, Facebook began allowing algorithms to automatically remove hate speech content, without sending it to a human reviewer. The software was only able to actively detect 65% of comments that the company determined were hate speech at the time. Today, she points out, the company says that number is 95% — and that about 1 out of every thousand comments seen on the platform is hate speech.
In an optimistic tone, Katie Harbath concludes that technology can help people connect with their governments, bring trust to institutions and engage those whose voices are often not heard in discussions: technology and democracy. The remarkable opportunity for history, which is more than just a loss, may also dictate how democracy can evolve in the digital age.