Big Brother is watching you: concerns regarding social media and democracy

Written by Comment

From the app TikTok’s attempts to promote Chinese foreign policy and conduct censorship to Cambridge Analytica’s alleged election interference, and to YouTube’s role in spreading footage of the Christchurch mosque attack, there are serious concerns about how social media is impacting democracy via global flows of information and data collection.

It is hardly news that people’s information and data are being collected and stored in the new digital world. However, now governments are using social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok and YouTube to monitor our internet usage and to follow the whim of political agendas, from censorship to micro-targeting voters in UK and USA elections.

“TikTok bans mentions of the independence of Tibet and Tiananmen Square”

According to Philip Ingram MBE, a former higher-up in British military intelligence, China’s government has always deployed censorship and monitored social media for anything anti-party or controversial; now, that censorship is coming to TikTok, with references to the independence of Tibet and Tiananmen Square both banned on the site.

TikTok bans discussion of “highly controversial topics”, such as ethnic conflict and Taiwanese independence
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal last year, there is now cause for concern the company’s activity is also political, with the Electoral Commission releasing a report on Cambridge Analytica’s role in the EU referendum last May. Political parties, election campaign teams, data analytics companies and social media platforms in the UK are using and analysing people’s personal information to micro-target voters. Do we really have data privacy?

In a world of both technological advancement and communication, Big Brother is truly watching you.

Last modified: 20th October 2019

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