As the Facebook controversy around sharing its own vast database of 80 million users or subscribers with Cambridge Analytics , a firm that took care of the Trump election campaign that time is gaining momentum, there are even more basic questions that arise around Facebook and its role in the democracy.
Let’s consider an engineering point of view about democracy. In engineering terms it would be defined as a kind of control system. One advantage of democracy is that in general if a broad category of people agree to something it can be brought into force by democracy. The people inform the representatives they elect in democracy by voting and these representatives pass the bills using this information.
So, whatever that comes in the way of this process or tries to distort the process is considered to be democratic threat. Newspapers are known to be the oldest media around and when newspapers started, there were times when their voices were suppressed but then a regulation was passed protection the freedom of speech. But, we need to be aware that judgment plays an important role and hence the media’s role is speculated when it comes to political activities.
While one way to report the news without any bias of any sort and let the people take decisions based on their own opinions and thinking. Though this extreme of objectivity was never really implemented but in the earlier times the press did make effort to some extent. But, Facebook is different from the traditional media. Here the voters themselves are the readers and the spreaders too. So, this gets kind of messy and you never know if they are really some genuine individuals or people hired for doing the advertising under wraps by targeting certain groups without they knowing about it. The motive could be anything, profit or influencing decisions or anything else, depends.
Now, the question is whether democracy can function smoothly under the umbrella of such a messy situation? Primarily, it’s now almost a decade since Facebook came into existence and the fact that our democracy is still working is a sort of ray of hope that things might just get better, but the answer to this question is still remains unanswered and hopefully is something that can be lived with.