There are many reasons why and how the internet can help to maintain a stable democracy. Citizens will, for example, use the internet to engage in policy debates; freedom of access helps voters to make better-informed decisions, and the electorate can hold lawmakers accountable by broad transparency.
This optimism, however, is based on the dubious premise that voters are using the Internet to learn new things, engage in political debates, enter online societal movements, and read high-quality content that introduces them to new ideas.
Few people do as well.
Others spend their days watching internet videos, binge Netflix, or posting selfies on Instagram. Of course, this is well, but the latter elements would never be able to overcome such a vast variety of distractions, resulting in unfavorable results for democracy. The numbers don’t lie: according to a new survey, only 9% of people use the internet for political or social reasons. This demographic is still the most supportive of the government, while the rest of the population, the overwhelming majority, is becoming less and less critical of their government’s policies.
As a browsing revenue model, the internet becomes a dopamine-driven ecosystem. Users like to have a fun time and be amused. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, recently revealed that his 2018 mission statement would be “tackling Facebook’s unfavorable side effects.”
Entrepreneur John Battelle wrote two days ”It’s the advertising system, stupid” after Zuckerberg’s tweet, pointing to Facebook’s ad-driven revenue model as the rationale for the platform’s technical issues never being addressed. Analysts predict that Facebook will make a profit of more than $ 16 billion in 2017. To put it lightly, expecting shareholders to agree to change this earnings model is pure hubris.
What is the problem?
If the Internet mostly serves to numb voters with clickable entertainment, it can, in the worst-case scenario, become a tool for political exploitation. Russia and China, for example, make heavy use of the internet to consolidate their political influence, on the one side by injecting propaganda and, on the other, by offering unnecessary online entertainment. Massive gains for software behemoths are weakening the prospects for systemic reform, ensuring that the true threat of political erosion can never be adequately addressed.
Ex-employees of tech giants are increasingly raising the bell, calling for an “ethical internet.” Only by collectively acknowledging the challenges, recognizing that the problems cross national boundaries and thus need a universal approach, and then devising a systemic approach, are feasible solutions.
Like website design Birmingham al, internet technology lends itself well to strengthening the fibers of culture. This can continue to connect and increase overall awareness in society’s specific niche. It would be a shame if this potential were left untapped because of something as twentieth-century as profit maximization and shareholder value.