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Why Western democracy faces a nightmare made online

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Artwork of a man attempting to cast a ballot, but is being pulled back by a massive hand coming out of a phone. The man is tied up with ropes, connecting him with the hand.

Politico, October 2023

In 2024 — for the first time ever — the U.S., the U.K. and the EU will hold major elections in the same calendar year. Dozens of other countries, including India and potentially Ukraine, are also expected to hold nationwide votes. This motherlode of election cycles is poised to reshape the leadership of the Western world. Yet never before has the integrity of democracy been in so much danger, thanks to the transformation of political campaigning in recent years into a war waged largely online. 

Social media is by its nature a force that polarizes debate. Vladimir Putin is by his nature, the kind of aggressor who wants to derail elections by spreading lies in the West. And Western politicians by their nature can’t resist exploiting personal data to target key voters in battleground seats.

Facebook, YouTube and TikTok didn’t create the partisan divides that now play out daily on people’s smartphones. But these social media giants have become a cauldron from which social unrest can spill over — such as into the violence that hit Washington on January 6, 2021 and Brasília this year.

Continue reading at Politico.

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