The nexus of technology and politics is a complex one. Technology has changed the mere concept of politics and has succeeded in making it even more overwhelming a mess than it already was. The internet has become a ‘weapon’, that too a very dangerous one, can easily sway the opinion of a voter. If that isn’t a dystopian nightmare, I don’t know what is.
The advent of social media has brought forth many advantages, no doubt about it, and this boon has been misused and abused during/for many political campaigns. Political campaigns have had a whole new facade. Classic (or might I say iconic) examples are the “Make America Great Again” as well as the “Abki Bar ....” campaigns.
These brilliantly executed campaigns were not only the talk of the town but have also created a cult-esque following of the politicians. The symbiotic relationship between social media and politics is reflected in Donald Trump’s Twitter account. He will tweet the most ridiculous tweet (exhibit A: ‘Covfefe’)and it gets him an insane amount of free publicity and it is a well known fact that no publicity for dear Donald is bad publicity. My point is that he gets an incredible amount of attention which may draw someone’s attention away from the inhuman policies that his government may impose. Social media is also used to spread fake news to sway opinions of voters. Fake news is not only spread by politicians to glorify themselves but to drag the name of the other candidates through the mud.
When we talk about social media and politics, one can’t forget the Facebook ordeal that took place recently. Another example is the Cambridge Analytica data harvest, incitement to violence in Myanmar, evidence of Russian and Iranian meddling in the US elections, and several data-exposing bugs.
You realise that these days people pulling the strings aren’t men who can “make offers one can’t refuse” but the “scrawny” programmers that own tech companies. For example, last year five large Silicon Valley companies spent nearly 50 million dollars for lobbying.
Many governments use technology to their advantage. The internet is used to hide/present misconstrued facts like in China where the government controls their search engine by not displaying searches related to protests and uprisings like the Tianmen Square protest. This is their way of keeping their citizens in the dark and prevent future uprisings.
That being said technology in politics has some pros. Voters (in some countries) are able to cast their vote from their mobile phones. Moreover, one of the most beautiful aspects of it is that we are able to raise awareness against the policies of oppressive governments. Awareness can be spread about oppressive government and their policies and their neglect towards their duty. Politicians are called out on their follies. We as a people have made it clear to our governments that we need to be taken seriously. Internet Activism keeps a check on governments and coerce them to check their unreasonable policies.
Technology has not only given us a voice but has unfortunately given another platform that politicians can take advantage of. We need to filter what we consume(in terms of technology) so that we can draw a line and make sure the weapon that is technology does not fall in the wrong hands and hope that in the future tense, the symbiotic relationship of technology and politics will metamorphosize into a less toxic one.