Tech Threats to Democracy

The New York Times just posted a chilling article titled “Silicon Valley Can’t Destroy Democracy Without Our Help”. In the very first line, Emily Parker says

“Silicon Valley, once a force for good, is now a threat to democracy”.

I haven’t read the entire article yet, but it probed my brain to ask if this is true. Is technology a threat to our democracy, or are certain technologies extenuating and inflating circumstances that are already occurring, and are now at the forefront of discussion?

I think many of us can agree that this past year has led the public to question the power of large technology companies like Facebook and Google. It has also lead those companies to question their own authority and responsibilities to the public. Take Mark Zuckerburg, who is now taking the Russian investigations more seriously than ever. I’m delighted to see the public take a critical stance on these companies. They need to be critically analyzed and controlled. But to blame them for our problems as a country do not help fix the underlying issues.

Here’s a good question. Would Trump’s large advertisements exist if we had controlled budgets for elections? Would political advertising be effective if citizens were provided with higher quality sources of information? Rather than be quick to blame the messenger, think about the quality of the message and how we have educated the public to receive that message.

Without question, technology companies’ influences have tremendously shaped our lives for good and for worse. But they aren’t the only ones to blame for the problems we have needed to address for decades.

(Click picture for NYT link)

Update: The article does affirm my beliefs.