Do social media threaten democracy?
Facebook, Google and Twitter were supposed to improve politics. Something has gone very wrong.
IN 1962 a British political scientist, Bernard Crick, published “In Defence of Politics”.
He argued that the art of political horse-trading, far from being shabby, lets people of different beliefs live together in a peaceful, thriving society.
In a liberal democracy, nobody gets exactly what he wants, but everyone broadly has the freedom to lead the life he chooses.
However, without decent information, civility and conciliation, societies resolve their differences by resorting to coercion.
How Crick would have been dismayed by the falsehood and partisanship on display in this week's Senate committee hearings in Washington.
Not long ago social media held out the promise of a more enlightened politics, as accurate information and effortless communication helped good people drive out corruption, bigotry and lies.
Yet Facebook acknowledged that before and after last year's American election, between January 2015 and August this year, 146m users may have seen Russian misinformation on its platform.
Google's YouTube admitted to 1,108 Russian-linked videos and Twitter to 36,746 accounts.
Far from bringing enlightenment, social media have been spreading poison.
Russia's trouble-making is only the start.
From South Africa to Spain, politics is getting uglier.
Part of the reason is that, by spreading untruth and outrage, corroding voters' judgment and aggravating partisanship, social media erode the conditions for the horse-trading that Crick thought fosters liberty.
1.social media 社交媒体
例句:We have all witnessed the power of social media.
2.drive out 驱赶
例句:He cut his rates to drive out rivals.
3.held out 伸出；提出
例句:He held out a small bag tied with string.
4.Not long ago 不久前
例句:Not long ago, he was seriously ill.