100 years ago, technological advancements were used to win war; today it is used to win elections.
Elections 2020 have been the most sensational topic of 2020, after Covid-19. Today, every electoral candidate’s first choice for campaigning either starts from Facebook or YouTube. From sharing live feeds of campaigns to connecting with potential voters, politicians use social media platforms more than any media in today’s tech-savvy world.
From the voter’s perspective, tech brings them closer to all the election drama happening both front and behind. They can also science out which way the arrow is pointing by tracking all the necessary stats, facts, and figures. And most importantly, they just love to see themselves as the center of attention.
So, the million dollar question is, who is technology helping more?
Is it the politicians – whose ultimate goal is to win an election?
Or is it helping the general public in conducting fair elections.
Well, let’s dig in.
Debunking fake news
Over the past several years, we have observed how the internet, search, social media pages, and other portions of the web can be manipulated to make people believe in false information.
We all remember the doctored video labeled “racist baby” that was posted on social media. A short clip on two toddlers hugging and playing with each other was made to appear as a fake story of one chasing the other.
While the stunt was immediately disapproved by the masses – and the platform where it was posted – it gives a glimpse into the ability of wrong people to propagate fake news.
FBI and CISA have a public service announcement stating,”Foreign actors and cybercriminals could create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information.”
Tech giants are working towards preventing misuse of platforms
In a recent post reported by The New York Times, Facebook claimed that it detected limited Chinese operations pushing information about American activity in the South China Sea. There were a number of fake accounts that were removed by Facebook. The network gained a whooping 133,000 followers. Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security at Facebook said, “They were focused on driving Division. The engagement with the US was both nascent and limited. It was both supportive and critical of the major political candidates in the US.”
Twitter introduced the concept of ‘labeling’ for government and state-affiliated media accounts. One of the blog pages of twitter reads:”Our mission is to serve the public conversation and an important part of that work is providing people with context so they can make informed decisions about what they see and how they engage on Twitter.”
Trust level of people against tech companies
Based on a 2019 data by Statista, the majority of adults in the US are not confident if the companies will be able to prevent the misuse of their platforms to influence presidential elections. However, all of them believe that they should.
Google’s role in ensuring fair election
In other news, Google made changes to its search engine in order to steer clear from provisioning results that may appear promoted.
The autocomplete feature in the search bar allows users to predict what they are searching for. However, this doesn’t work in its true sense if you are trying to get answers related to the election or campaign results.
For example, go ahead and type, “Should I vote for Trump/Biden.”
Did you find any autocomplete suggestions for the aforementioned phrase? Or, did you get any relevant suggestions like it shows for your other searches? The answer is “No,” isn’t it?
The Internet is a goldmine of information and technology presents equal opportunities for both sides to help themselves. However, we all need to learn to differentiate between fake news and real information and take the next steps carefully.