Election information?

Disinformation is false information deliberately spread to deceive people. In contrast, misinformation refers to inaccuracies that stem from inadvertent error.  Disinformation is an managed activity in which people introduce strategic deceptions and media manipulation tactics to facilitate political, military, or commercial goals.

UNESCO and Ipsos did a survey  (August-September 2023), in 16 countries, asking among other things,  “Are they concerned that disinformation will impact the next campaign?” The effort found the following key points.

  • 56% of internet users in the 16 countries surveyed frequently use social media as their primary source of news, surpassing television at 44%.
  • Trust in traditional media remains high, with 66% of those surveyed trusting television news, 63% trusting radio news, and 61% trusting print media news.
  • Internet users experience a high prevalence of disinformation on social media, with 68% indicating that disinformation is most widespread there.
  • 87% of respondents expressed concern about the impact of disinformation on upcoming elections in their country, with 47% being “very concerned”.
  • 67% of internet users have encountered hate speech online, with a majority believing it’s most prevalent on Facebook (58%).
  • There’s a strong call for regulation, with 88% believing that both governments and regulatory bodies, and social media platforms (90%) should address disinformation and hate speech issues.
  • A majority of internet users (89%) support the idea that governments and regulators should enforce trust and safety measures on social media platforms during election campaigns.
  • Only 48% of surveyed citizens have reported online content related to disinformation in the context of an election campaign.

In the United States, there is no oversight of the social media platforms by the government and social media companies have actually rolled back any self-policing of content for disinformation, because it works against their business model.  Their model is engagement by entertaining, not informing you.  Disinformation is actually amplified by the social media platforms.

The following image illustrates a two-phase framework conceptualizing the dissemination of disinformation on social media. The first phase is “seeding,” in which actors strategically insert misleading deceptions by masquerading or obfuscating statements as legitimate…. The second phase, “echoing,” represents how disinformation circulates in echo chambers through contradictions against opponents in cultural wars and other identity-driven controversies. Participants use falsehoods, selective truths, beliefs, value judgments, and all available controversies to rhetorically enact and exploit their identity in opposition to their perceived opponents.1Diaz Ruiz, C., & Nilsson, T. (2023). Disinformation and Echo Chambers: How Disinformation Circulates on Social Media Through Identity-Driven Controversies. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 42(1), 18-35. https://doi.org/10.1177/07439156221103852

Disinformation and echo chamber graphic Citizens in a democracy need a source of information the is not driven by the profit motive of social media platforms and is dedicated to presenting factual information for people to make good decisions.  Donating to this organization will help fund research and implementation of a platform to inform and amplify your voice.  Donate today, before our democracy  dies!

Can We Keep Our Republic?

When Benjamin Franklin left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberations at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he was asked  “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” to which he responded “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

These days it sometimes feels like we are in danger of becoming a autocracy.  In the book How Democracies Die, the authors list four key indicators of authoritarian behavior to test leaders.

  1. Rejection of (or weak commitment to) democratic rules of the game.
  2. Denial of the legitimacy of political opponents.
  3. Toleration or encouragement of violence.
  4. Readiness to curtail civil liberties of opponents, including the media.

They maintain a politician that meets even one of these criteria is cause for concern.  In the last century authoritarian leaders have come to power, changing the existing government into a autocracy by fooling the kings or the people into thinking only that leader can fix everything.

Democracy Index map
Democracy Index map

In 2022, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) reported the United States of America (US) as a flawed democracy (overall score of 7.85 of 10), ranking 30 in a field of 167 countries analyzed in their report.  This is a decrease of four spots from 2021 report and kept the US in the flawed democracy group since 2016.  The report goes on to say:

The US’s overall score in the Democracy Index remains weighed down by the country’s intense levels of political and cultural polarisation. Pluralism and competing alternatives are essential for a functioning democracy, but differences of opinion in the US have hardened into political sectarianism and almost permanent institutional gridlock. This trend has long compromised the functioning of government, and the US score for this category remains at a low of 6.43 in 2022, unchanged from 2021….

Political culture is still the weakest category for the US, with a score of 6.25 in 2022, unchanged from 2021. Social cohesion and consensus have collapsed in recent years as disagreements over an expanding list of issues fuel the country’s “culture wars”….

These debates have extended beyond the usual set of actors (such as politicians and activists) and now implicate corporate executives as well as primary school teachers and librarians (over lesson plans and books discussing sexuality, gender and racial identity). A highly politicised media, including popular TV channels and social media platforms, continue to foment and amplify these divisions.

We must pull out of this democratic death spiral or we may end up with an autocracy!  “When American democracy has worked, it has relied upon two norms that we often take for granted—mutual tolerance and institutional forbearance.”1“How Democracies Die” pg 212 The political parties in the United States need to revive these norms and add new ones.  It cannot be done by one leader, it will take all of us! Get involved: vote; write letters to the editor; peacefully protest; contact your representatives; join with organizations like this one to amplify your voice. Do it today, before our democracy dies!