Just Google it. No one really questions Google’s answers. Today, 62% of US adults get their news from social media. Why shouldn’t they when Facebook and Twitter promote the freedom of expression and the spread of information? There was no real reason to question the validity and ethics of Google, Facebook or Twitter until now. The 2016 presidential election proves that political involvement creates digital distrust. The recent allegations against these large tech companies will only generate more skepticism as the investigations continue.
Within the past week, California lawmakers demanded that these large tech companies go before Congress. Why? New evidence indicates that Twitter, Google and Facebook are responsible for undermining the democratic process during the 2016 presidential election. For example, Twitter offered a prominent Russian TV network 15% of its election-related ad inventory in exchange for a $3 million investment. Additionally, congressional investigators are reviewing 3,000 Facebook ads because of possible Russian connections. To make matters worse, all three tech companies found hundreds of ad purchasing accounts linked to Russia. These firms’ recent political involvement creates digital distrust that won’t go away easily.
Let’s Make it Worse
Skepticism already existed after the Facebook fake news scandal. However, the plot thickens.It seems that Facebook can’t satisfy anyone. Democrats feel mislead by the Russian ad meddling. In addition, Conservatives recently accused Zuckerburg and other Facebook executives of censoring conservative content. Zuckerburg is not quiet about his political views and his dislike of Donald Trump. It is believed that the company is censoring their news section to promote more democratic content. Fake news and biased advertisements could have a huge impact if they are influencing 62% of adults.
So, what does this mean for the world of social media and digital communication? Nothing good. While this won’t stop people from using the platforms all together, it could greatly decrease usage. Users won’t consume news from a source that they are skeptical about. Companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter must remain unbiased. Political involvement creates digital distrust. The damage is done, but steps can be taken to prevent situations like this in the future. Let’s just hope that they have learned from their mistakes.
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