Public opinion is growing more polarized by the day. States and corporations are all working to define just what their “truths” may be. Can anything be done to stop disinformation?
Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, among others, have become the biggest propaganda machines in history. They reach billions of people, and exert more power and influence than any organizations before them. And that is just what makes them so dangerous.
The dream of a peaceful digitized world has vanished. Fear and hatred seem to dominate. But is this algorithm-driven polarization inevitably steering us towards violence? Can our democratic principles of compromise, discussion and transparency survive?
Both the debate over Russian ads in the 2016 U.S. election campaign, and the spread of fake news demonstrate just how much influence these tech giants have over us. Rumours and misinformation generated by Covid-19 have pushed fact-checkers beyond their limits.
In the U.S., this web-based aggression has spilled out onto the streets. There have been deaths at protests in Kenosha and Portland. And U.S. corporations are making all of this possible, because searches for polarizing and divisive content turns a profit.
No one knows better than Facebook how to divide societies, and cash in. A parallel digital universe has emerged. It is a safe space for people once living on the fringes of mainstream society. And here, anything goes. So have we already lost the battle against disinformation? Can we turn the tide of polarization?