We Can Have Social Media As We Know It, Or We Can Have Democracy

from Fast Company

In early September, President Trump retweeted a video allegedly showing an “black lives matter/antifa” activist pushing a woman into a subway car. The video is nearly a year old, and the man in question was mentally ill and had no connection to either group.

As a researcher studying social media, propaganda, and politics in 2016, I thought I’d seen it all. At the time, while working at University of Oxford, I was in the thick of analyzing Twitter bot campaigns pushing #Proleave messaging during Brexit. As a research fellow at Google’s thinktank Jigsaw that same year, I bore witness to multinational disinformation campaigns aimed at the U.S. election.

That is nothing compared to what I am seeing in 2020. The cascade of incidents surrounding both this year’s U.S. Presidential contest as well as a multitude of other contentious political events around the globe is staggering. From doctored videos, “smart” robocalls, spoofed texts and—yes—bots, there’s an overwhelming amount of disinformation circulating on the internet.

Meanwhile, political polarization and partisanship inflamed by these technologies continues to rise. As I sift through social media data relating to the ongoing U.S. election, I’m constantly confronted with new forms of white supremacist, anti-Black, anti-Semitic, and anti-LBGTQ content across massive social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This rhetoric also shows up on private chat applications such as Parler, Telegram, and WhatsApp.

I thought we’d have made progress in addressing the problems of propaganda and disinformation on social media by now, and on the face of things we have. Major tech firms have banned political advertisements, flagged dis-informative posts by politicians, and made tweaks to their algorithms in attempts to stop recommending conspiracy-laden content. But, in the grand scheme of things, these actions have done little to quell the sheer amount of both low-tech and algorithmically generated propaganda online.

More here.

Posted in Future Thinking, Ideas, Law, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. I have been reading many articles about the disinformation provided by social media. During the past two years, Italy has incurred in many political fights using social media, but many of those fights were based on “fake” facts, since people are able to publish whatever they want, and they can do that even if they are fake users. As in Italy, these facts have been happening in the United States where people had been involved in political and social riots, and they were based on fake news. As the author states, social media have been focusing on using algorithms to delete fake news and twitters that can lead to wrong information, but they have just taken off a small part of the fake information. Social Media has empowered anybody to create political fights, and even politicians are taking advantage of social media. In fact, many politicians use social media for their political campaigns, but as the article says, social media have banned those campaigns since they lead to fake information and riots. Social media have created a big value to people since they can promote their ideas and products, and they can do business. Social media have sized down the world since anybody can access to the whole world’s resources. However, it has increased disinformation, and it can be a big problem, but if the social media developers can create something that will not endanger people using information, social media would be a good resource for the future.

  2. Technology has done a great job of providing people access to more knowledge than they have ever had before, and when used properly and securely, people can become more informed and educated about important issues. However, this article presents the negatives of technological innovations. As people’s capabilities to create footage that appears real improves, the risk of propaganda and false reporting also increases. The article references Trump administration attempts to deep fake videos of nominee Joe Biden or to repurpose old footage to make those who oppose him look worse. Some social media platforms have made strides to counteract this new form of propaganda.

    Twitter implemented a feature in May that notified users if a verified account’s tweets about the coronavirus were misleading or factually incorrect. Most notably, some of President Trump’s received this designation. This alert also gave users access to up-to-date information regarding the virus. The author is correct in asserting that these platforms that allow people from around the world to discuss issues are obligated to ensure that verifiably untrue and damaging misinformation is not allowed, because of the damage this misinformation can deal in distorting people’s perceptions of the real world. This country is as politically charged and technologically advanced as ever before, so these platforms must remain reliable in terms of removing misinformation from the platform.

  3. While I agree and understand that social media contains a lot of doctored content that is far from the truth, I disagree with the sentiment that it will hurt democracy. Many people, regardless of their political beliefs, will only follow social media accounts that align with their political beliefs. Because of this, they will not even see any content from the other side of the political spectrum. I think that this helps people to keep a focused perspective on their own ideals rather than them having the ideals of another political party be forced onto them. The article claims that “Major tech firms have banned political advertisements, flagged dis-informative posts by politicians, and made tweaks to their algorithms in attempts to stop recommending conspiracy-laden content.” It then follows up this statement by saying this has not been enough to keep social media from spreading political propaganda online. I feel as though this is not as big an issue as the article is making it seem like. I understand how doctored videos being shown to enhance ones beliefs would threaten our democracy, but I do not feel as though political propaganda itself has that same effect. For the most part, one can alter their profile and who they are following so that they will only view posts with aligning political views, and I do not see how propaganda geared towards them will destroy our democracy. I just feel as though the biggest issue in social media is false information. I do not see the same issues being presented by true information that is just fed out to the general public. The one thing about this article that I can agree upon is that “real regulation of social media companies has remained inexcusably sparse, not nearly sufficient to slow the spread of disinformation.” While I feel as though propaganda itself is not an issue if the news being spread is backed by facts, I also think that social media companies are not doing enough to ensure their users that all the information they are seeing is true. Without assurance of the truth, I can see how social media would destroy the democracy we have in the United States.

  4. As advances in technology continue, so does social media. Social media is a way for people to connect with one another no matter where they are in the world. It is a great way to gain knowledge, laugh at a funny video clip, or connect with friends old and new. However, for all of the positive attributes of social media, there is also the negative. In today’s society, it is necessary to sift through information to determine if it is accurate, someone accurate, or completely false. Because of this, it is difficult to know what is truly going on in the world.

    It is unfortunate that as consumers of social media, we must determine what is accurate. Politics seem to be a contributing factor to this. With a high stakes election among us, both political parties use propaganda and fake news to make themselves look better. Regardless of what your political beliefs, both parties are guilty of this. This type of behavior has gone on for ages, however it is more in the forefront of our society because of social media. We have what we need in a moments notice because of the internet. Some may believe this is good while others think it hurts society. I am not sure what the answer is, but everyone should take a moment and think about the propaganda they read or view and make educated decisions for themselves to determine what is really true.

  5. Over the years, social media has transformed from what was once a medium to stay connected with friends to what is now the modern-day newspaper. It is in fact much more powerful than any newspaper as anybody can post anything with little repercussion, and with an internet connection being one of the only requirements, most people have the ability to access it. A consequence of this luxury is the spreading of propaganda and lies, especially in politics, as this is clearly used by both republicans and democrats – along with any outliers – to push their agenda. Morally, this is wrong, but as history has shown, our morals are not perfect in the slightest, and propaganda has been a tool used for hundreds of years. It is a problem, but there is a larger one that has been birthed due to social media, and the issue lies within the people.

    As a people, we have become attached to applications such as Twitter or YouTube as they offered an opportunity to leave the struggles of reality behind. Our attachment is so strong to point it handicaps us. As reality and social media become more entwined with one another, the truth gets lost and our shared opinions are used against us. It is hard to delineate lies and the truth, but we are at fault for not trying harder to do so. It becomes more apparent each day that we let strangers online influence us to think one way rather than allow our minds think for themselves. Rather than physically and emotionally experiencing life, we live it through our phone screens, and our personal values are replaced with somebody else’s. The use of propaganda only works if the people allow it to, meaning we let the lies become the truth and this only further entrenches our skewed views. Instead, we should look to reality and the facts to determine what we value, but again, this is incredibly hard to do so if we continue to have a dependence on social media.

    The internet has been public for about 30 years now. In a lifetime, that is a long period of time, but in the scope of history, 30 years is a mere chapter in a textbook. If the effects of social media are so drastic now, can you imagine how polarized and artificial our world will be in the next 30 years? The next 100? Children who barely know how to divide or complete a book report are owners of high-tech phones and laptops and have access to this digitalized world. They are reading the opinions of others before they even have time to develop their own. Misuse of social media is wrong, but I believe it will never be righted, so it is of the utmost importance for the people to separate these lies from reality and to prevent future generations from adopting this herd mentality.

  6. Social Media, what we need in our everyday lives. Social media is so huge and big today, that its what we have our phones for, and constantly on our phones, because of apps like Facebook or Instagram, or snap chat. Having social media and seeing all what’s going on , on twitter and seeing all the news is what makes us look at our phones so much, and being on our phones almost 24/7. Us people also have to believe in that not everything we see on social media is real and the truth. sometimes people see things and are automatically quick to react and don’t know if the source is real or someone is just trolling. Due to our technology being so advanced, our social media is advanced too and our lives depend on it. what would we be without social media, and always scrolling through our phones. Technology is going out the roof right now and it’ll just keep going. when I was a kid, at age 10-11 I didn’t have anything, no phone, no computer, or any video games. Now?? kids have iPhones at age 10-14, and have iPads and all these other devices, and then they get caught up in all the social media, or whatever is trending, and then all of sudden everyone is on it. We depend on social media so much that some people don’t feel like going to school or work or learning or gaining knowledge because of social media. That is not the right way because you don’t know if the source is legit or who’s telling the truth, and I think we should sometimes take a break from social media , and improve our mental health and calm down, and not always be on our phones, because its not good for the brain. People think that social media is everything, but it’s not. Yes you get to gain some knowledge , but the real knowledge is school and then working hard to pursue whatever it is that you want to be in life.

  7. Fake news, disinformation, and AI-controlled bots all vie for our attention. Who should stand up and defeat them, and how? People as influential as our president falling privy to deep fakes are concerning. If the people who control disinformation can control the president, who can they not control? Is the president naïve, does he not take his position seriously, or is big data so robust to manipulate a man of great power? When it comes to conquering disinformation, I think it is the people’s responsibility. We need to come together and learn to check our sources, shame misinformation, and hold companies to a higher standard. We need a grassroots campaign that holds truth as its highest value. If we fail to form such a campaign, our social fabric as we know it will disintegrate. In the short term, there could be a civil war; in the long term, a nuclear one. Despite my pessimistic view of our future if we continue down this path, I am optimistic the tides can turn in favor of truth. I think it has to be a grassroots movement because what are the other options. The government could regulate big tech and big data, but that does not solve the problem. To form another bureaucratic organization only shifts the power of algorithms and disinformation to the government. That power would still exist, and when the government is the sole determinant of truth, we start to look a lot more like George Orwell’s 1984. But to say no, the government can’t regulate truth because of the slippery slope and allow the corporations to regulate truth, we wind up more like Wall-E. Corporations could say whatever is relevant to maximizing their profit. The people are the only organization that spreads power evenly enough to regulate the truth. But right now the people let themselves be controlled by algorithms.
    The government could say no to social media platforms using algorithms, but that opens up a myriad of loopholes and regulatory burdens. Zuckerberg would argue that the answer to algorithms that promote tribalism is algorithms that regulate algorithms to protect democracy. And the answer to bots is algorithms that stop them. But I do not want to see an algorithmic arms race with democracy at stake and people caught in the crossfire. The answer likely lies somewhere in the middle, more regulation, some anti-trust suits, algorithms that catch robots, but most importantly, people that take control of their attention and value truth. Force the market will incentivize companies to care about privacy, and force the government to vote not to take control of our data.

  8. Social media is a part of everyday life for many individuals, especially those of my generation. With the current state of the country, it has been even more apparent how easy and quick misinformation can spread. The article’s author Samuel Woolley says, “In my book The Reality Game, I discuss a nearby future in which AI-enabled technologies will be used to manipulate public opinion.” I think that the nearby future is a lot closer than most of us think. From COVID-19 to protests, to the election, there has been so much misinformation on social media its difficult to decipher what is really true anymore. For most people, social media is where they find out most current events or news, rather than from a newspaper. Furthermore, its fairly easy to manipulate those who view this content on social media. Videos and pictures can easily be edited and manipulated to fit a political agenda. President Trump has even participated in this spread of misinformation, in an attempt to take down his political opponent. Although some social media sites have put in features to stop this spread of misinformation, by making users aware it is false based on a fact check. Even though this feature may help, this misinformation and propaganda can be found in numerous other places. I agree with the author that some major changes on social media need to happen. I have heard so many people, whether it be friends, family, or even strangers, discussing with others something they saw on social media regarding politics that is completely false or a manipulated version of the truth. Maybe these social media sites have measures in place to fact check or stop the propaganda and misinformation, but it can just as easily be read by one person and spread by in-person conversation. Personally, I think this misinformation I have been seeing has dramatically increased in 2020. Understandably it is an election year, but I have seen more false news on social media this year than I have factual news. The circulation of fake news on social media and the internet continuously grows and will need significant intervention to stop it.

  9. Social media has become the biggest influence on everyone’s life today, and specifically the younger generation. Information on social media can be spread so easily, whether this information is correct or not. With everything going on in today’s world, you can find about something that happened across the country, or the world, in the matter of minutes on social media. I would say Twitter has the biggest influence on this spread of information. Anyone can have an account, and you can post just about anything on there, negative or positive. It is easy for someone to post something on Twitter that is completely false, and have people around the country or world believe you when enough people retweet the tweet, to spread the information. I would also say that recently that has the been an issue. There has been a lot of social injustice happening in the United States recently, and someone might make something up or just have the wrong information about a situation and everyone will believe it on twitter. There is also a positive to this spread of information though because many people are coming together on social media to help be apart of the fight against social injustice. Twitter and all other forms of social media are the main news source for some people, and that is going to continue in the future. News channels, politicians, and businesses have twitter accounts to post information they have. With everyone having a twitter it makes it more convenient for someone just to check on their phone for the recent news that is happening. All in all, social media is influencing everyone is positive and negative ways, especially the younger generation who has already been apart of it for years. Social media influence will continue to be apart of everyones everyday life, and continue to grow as time goes on.

  10. Social media is a part of many individuals’ everyday routines nowadays, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, or various other platforms. It’s a way for people to connect with others from all over the world. These apps have also done a wonderful job of educating and informing individuals when used properly and responsibly. However, these positives also bring some negatives. These sites can be mentally damaging from the amount of misinformation, bullying, and criticizing that goes on within these apps.
    These apps allow users to post whatever they would like, which often leads to misinformation. This has been seen a lot recently, with the 2020 presidential election being a huge factor. The article states that “there has been a great deal of fervor amongst academics and journalists about the potential threat of high-tech deepfake videos, which use AI to create realistic representations of people saying or doing things they never said or did.” Along with AI, the different editing apps easily allow you to create a video of someone saying or doing things they never said or did and then post it on social media. Many people are currently tweeting or posting pictures or videos of false information regarding the 2020 presidential election which is leading many people to believe these false posts. There clearly needs to be major changes to social media. The lies, bullying, and criticism have to stop as it is extremely unhealthy for anyone. Social media is meant to be used as a tool to connect with others and broaden your knowledge. However, it is just damaging nowadays and it needs to change.

  11. Social media is a very interesting thing to be apart of and even our President, Donald Trump, is very active on it, in particular Twitter. The issue Trump has is he constantly retweets things to fit his political agenda that are completely false. The author of this article is a researcher who studies social media and according to him there is “an overwhelming amount of disinformation circulating on the internet.” He has come across too many “white supremacist, anti-Black, anti-Semitic, and anti-LBGTQ content across massive social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.” There is no place in our society for those kinds of views and it is a shame because it is true that there are too many of those kinds of posts of social media. Yes, companies have done some things to prevent that from happening including “banning political advertisements, flagging dis-informative posts by politicians, and making tweaks to their algorithms in attempts to stop recommending conspiracy-laden content”, but these things have done little to limit the propaganda. Leading up to the election some are worried that fake information and videos can have a significant impact. I agree and think it can have an impact, but I would like to believe there are enough smart individuals that can develop their own opinions based off facts. Our president fell victim to one of these fake videos when he retweeted a video of Joe Biden “endorsing him for reelection.” Trump has a team managing his social media and even they could not see it was a fake video. Sadly, this is not limited to social media, people in Detroit received robotic calls giving out fake information regarding mail in voting. I get robot calls almost everyday and do not answer because they are clearly fake. Some people do not realize this so it can impact the election. The author believes the general public has a choice to make, “we can have social media as we know it, or we can have democracy.” He believes if we do not force major tech companies to change then the choice has already been decided for us. I agree with the author and most of his points are valid. Social media is such an influential place and needs to be closely monitored especially with an election coming up soon. All companies should have someone working around the clock making sure false information is deleted and does not go viral. When something goes viral it is so hard to determine if it is false information or not. I will try to stay off social media in the weeks leading up to the election.

  12. Disinformation is everywhere and this article proved that. With the internet ruling what we know as the “world” we see that everyone has the opportunity to speak their mind via the First Amendment. The First Amendment gives us the power to speak what we want in person and via the internet which gives everyone a lot of power to say what they believe. This is becoming important towards the election because people are using false information towards candidates and the candidates are using the internet to promote the false information. As we heard in the article, President Trump was accused of giving false information towards Biden about his views in which were never said to the public but instead interpreted. This was not just done by Trump though; Biden was also accused of giving false information which leads us to believe that this could be an internet electron. When I say a internet election this is towards the fact that people that are not educated in the matter will believe this information fed to them and go on to not finding the facts.
    In the article something that stood out to me was how they talked about twitting of the presidential candidates more than anything. I believe that technology has giving the tool for positivity and negativity towards the presidential candidates. Both Trump and Biden utilize the internet more than any other presidential race has since the internet has become an object. They are using it to reach the younger people but also by staying their ideals on a platform where everyone can see it and back them up. I do see the perks of this but also see the negatives. Where I do see how this can make the candidates look better and get others to promote them, I see where the disinformation and the twisting of words will happen easier.
    Overall, many sites are not promoting the election which is very smart by them because that would allow them to lose more subscribers due to if they do not agree with them. Whenever the election comes around, I believe that it would be in the internets best bet to not pick a side and keep a neutral ground. It is important to remember that as long as the internet is around, disinformation will be out there.

  13. From Myspace and Facebook, to Instagram, SnapChat, and Twitter, societies have seen a significant increase in the use of social media. Social media has become platforms that are used for many different purposes. Aside from sharing photos and videos, memes, fashion, sports, music, etc., social media platforms have become a major source of news for individuals. Today, people turn to social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and more to find quick updates on the latest news that is occurring in the United States and around the world. Whether it is a short one to two minute video, a short post, or a link to an article, social media has given people quick and easy access to the news at the tip of their fingers. Nonetheless, with this ease of access, anyone is allowed to post and share almost whatever information they want about current events. Due to this, false information can sometimes be spread on social media and it can be difficult to differentiate between what is factual and nonfactual. The spread of false information, especially in relation to politics and social injustices has become a very serious crisis and conflict in the United States. As the author of the article mentions, he “bore witness to multinational disinformation campaigns aimed at the U.S. election.” The author also describes the increasing use of doctored calls, robocalls, spoofed texts, and bots that circle disinformation on the internet. These methods and more have significantly increased the severity of the spread of disinformation through the internet and social media.
    As mentioned in the article, another major use of social media has been for propaganda in relation to politics. Throughout history, propaganda has been used in politics whether it was in newspapers, books, TV, or posters. Perhaps, in most recent years, we have seen propaganda on social media through Twitter. Presidents and other major political and societal figures have begun to be very active on Twitter by tweeting small blurbs with opinions, facts, and/or updates. However, it can be argued that the use of social media and the internet by politicians for propaganda has been enabled, or failed to be stopped by big tech companies. Although the tech companies have put effort into banning political advertisements and flagging posts that are disinformative by politicians, so much more can be done to prevent the spread of disinformation. Advancements in technology have allowed people to find loopholes to continue the spread and plant the seeds for future spread of false news and information. The continuous spread of false news and information can and will have lasting effects on society and the political system. As most people know, what is put on the internet, stays on the internet forever. Even a post that has only been posted for five minutes could get hundreds of thousands of views and shares within that short amount of time. The spread of misinformation misleads and manipulates society and people into believing things that are not true. Such beliefs could lead people to make wrong and irrevocable decisions that could be very detrimental to themselves, their families, and society as a whole. As the author stresses at the end of the article, it is of utmost importance that a change is made. It is crucial that big tech companies, social media platforms, and the regulation of social media be corrected and revised to eliminate the future spread of false news and information.

  14. There is a surge of propaganda on multiple media outlets ahead of this election. I see it every day – tweets from the president that are so clearly propaganda (for example, his retweet of Russian propaganda of Joe Biden), or photos on my Instagram explore page or videos on TikTok that go viral within minutes. I first learned about propaganda in middle school with Nazi Germany and back then I would not have thought that I would see something similar in the U.S. The President tweeting things like this especially is extremely harmful to the fate of this country but also just downright immature and irresponsible. As the leader of the free world, Trump should be mature enough to not post videos making fun of Biden or spread lies about what “Biden’s America” would look like. When I first heard Trump say that phrase I was confused because it was a commercial that was playing a slideshow of photos of events that happened during his own presidency. It does not make sense. What is sad about all of this is that so many people will just believe this propaganda without a second thought.

    I found it interesting that people can already predict that AI is going to influence people’s beliefs in the future. This goes along with an article I recently read about popular sites like Facebook and Google not doing anything to regulate the spread of incorrect information because the internet is proving to be an uncontrolled place that will indefinitely control the public opinion. If we continue to propel this propaganda into the media and ignore the effect it has on people’s opinions, we only will have ourselves to blame for not stopping the ultimate consequences in the future.

  15. While this article definitely makes me want to heighten my awareness of fake news during the age of social media, I can’t say that I am surprised about how much fake news is being posted for millions of people to see. However, what shocks me the most is that politicians are one of the prominent figures as to why fake news is spreading on social media. Honestly, I expect more from political leaders. Being as though Black Lives Matter activists are a part of an organization that aims to reduce discriminatory practices and institutional elements of racism, it is extremely disheartening to see that political actors would use a video of a black man pushing a white women into a subway as a chance for propaganda, all while spreading a false message that black activist are causing harm on people in the community. Especially, given the fact that “the man in question was mentally ill and had no connection to [Black Lives Matter]” (Woolley). It is bad enough that false narratives about the black community spread like wildfire, or any minority group for that matter, but to see the president be the source of fake news pertaining to an organization that promotes America’s agenda of equality is very disappointing.

    Additionally, I support the author’s position in that change must be made in order to reduce the spread of fake news. Especially, given the recent outbreak of Covid-19 and even as America prepares for elections. Though, I will say, fake news has been interfering with our democracy for years, but it is not the only thing disrupting democracy as we know it. While we should be mindful, I do not think fake news should be feared the most as the 2020 elections approach. I think it is also important to mention how voting suppression is just as detrimental to the outcome of the election and to our democracy as much as fake political news is. Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, states “We’re fighting in states that continue to use the pandemic as a reason to make it harder for people to vote…We’re fighting states that have premature deadlines by which voters have to return their absentee ballots” (Martin). There is a deeper issue at hand and fake news just happens to be one of the formalities in which some political actors can try and suppress our vote. I believe that this article emphasizes even more why we should get out and vote, not just on a federal level, but on a state and local level. In my opinion, America’s biggest threat is the people who are behind the social media post attempting to sway votes in their favor by advertising false statements. We need leaders who uphold the integrity of America and who care about the needs of the people more than anything else. In a day and age of misinformation, we need leaders who value truth. With all due respect, if people see the president posting false information by “retweet[ing] a fake video of Joe Biden allegedly endorsing Trump for reelection,” what does that say for others who feel comfortable spreading fake news too (Wolley)? While I agree that “It comes down to this: we can have social media as we know it or we can have democracy,” it’s not entirely up to just everyday social media users to decide between social media and democracy. It is also up to our political leaders to not be the forerunners of this day and age of propaganda and disinformation.

    Works cited:

    Martin, Mitchel. “A Look At Voter Suppression Tactics Ahead Of The Election.” NPR, NPR, 13 Sept. 2020, http://www.npr.org/2020/09/13/912519039/a-look-at-voter-suppression-tactics-ahead-of-the-election.

  16. Social media is not the place to get reliable information. Unfortunately, people tend to take it upon themselves to share political “facts” on their social platforms. This is extremely detrimental to viewers who are uninformed, especially during the election year. People will post opinionated facts, which does not allow viewers to form their own opinions. It also omits details that would be vital to forming an opinion. An Instagram post is not long enough to provide sufficient information. Everything on social media generally is taken for face value. Seeing a post on social media that has no validity should not be people’s source of news.

    Although it is embarrassing to admit, I have definitely formed political opinions based off of social media posts. A single paragraph that briefly describes an event from a biased viewpoint is not enough to form a solid opinion. An example of this is looking at advertisements from both political parties. Looking at posts about the presidential debates, specifically, presents social media’s unreliability. If you look at posts about the debate from both sides they will say completely different things, most likely bashing the other party. It was the same exact event, however, so the information should not be so drastically different. If someone did not watch the debate at all, do they form an opinion off of the first post they see?

    President Trump retweeted a fake video of Joe Biden endorsing Trump for reelection. The video caught major traction, accumulating millions of views. This is extremely damaging for Joe Biden, as viewers could watch that video and shift their support to Donald Trump. If people think Joe Biden does not believe he is the most fit for office, then why should they. While it was a fake video, people most likely took it for face value and assumed it was actually said.

    Propaganda has never been so accessible. Political information has also never been so accessible, as every answer is on the internet. That does not seem to increase people’s knowledge, however. Technological propaganda is detrimental to Americans unless they do extensive research. Not every single person is extremely political so this is not realistic.

  17. As described by Samuel Woolley in the article, “We Can Have Social Media as We Know it, or We Can Have Democracy” disinformation has run rampant on the internet in recent years. This crisis has been especially amplified during the election year of 2020. Constant slander from all sides of the political spectrum cloud our timelines leaving many confused, fired up, and armed with false narratives. Social media has helped to fuel the fires of partisanship and biased passion, ultimately creating hostile online platforms that are politically polarizing. This article brought to light the fact that public opinion can be easily manipulated when social media sites do little to create a safe space.

    I have been disoriented amidst all of the chaos of this election year. Who do I believe? Who’s bending facts, stretching the truth, or plain lying to get ahead? My biggest disappointment regarding the misinformation crisis is that it has stemmed from top political figures. Those in positions of power who are battling for leadership of our nation have not only allowed but encouraged the spread of misinformation to their own benefit. Shouldn’t these leaders be spreading the truth with the best interest of United States citizens in mind? These disruptors are not just an issue from within the United States. Many cybersecurity threats are also coming from foreign nations. According to Woolley, “Major tech firms have banned political advertisements, flagged dis-informative posts by politicians, and made tweaks to their algorithms in attempts to stop recommending conspiracy-laden content.” Though a step in the right direction, it has been determined that these actions have made little difference on a large scale. Intentional spread of misinformation has made voting during this election year especially difficult to decipher. I was nervous and hesitant to vote by mail with all of the turmoil and unsure of what to believe. As a first-time voter, I have found the political environment to be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming. I have developed a distrust for the system because of the blatant lies and willing ignition of misinformation from those meant to serve the public. It almost feels like we are living in a “post truth society.”

    Woolley describes that, “despite a few high-profile Congressional hearings, real regulation of social media companies has remained inexcusably sparse, not nearly sufficient to slow the spread of disinformation.” Though monitoring speech is a slippery slope regarding censorship and the ideals of the First Amendment, some regulations must be implemented to quell the wildfire phenomenon of social media disinformation. I am frustrated with the tense political climate within the United States and on our apps, but I hope that change and policy will help to diffuse this situation in the years to come.

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