Social media nearly destroyed democracy: expert

Prof. Andrzej Zybertowicz, social scientist and adviser to Polish President Andrzej Duda in his interview with PolandIN argues that regulation of the Internet and social media is a must for saving democracy. He proposes international agreements to slow down the digital revolution and a tax on tech giants data collection.

Prof. Zybertowicz dismissed the notion that the information technologies, the Internet and social media were liberating. He argues that “social media nearly destroyed liberal democracy” because of the “information overload” that it created.

The academic believes that traditional media offered a way of rationalising the world , even if they did limit the number of views reaching the populace. This is necessary for “if anyone can say anything, no one is listening”. He also feels that the problem with cyberspace is that increasingly we do not know who we are talking to: real people? Bots? Paid trolls?

The President’s adviser says that “social media brought in an era of fake news and post-truth, bringing “disorentation” to all. They meant that people became immune from scandals that used to cleanse the system of rogues.

Prof. Zybertowicz acknowledges that the new technologies cannot be dis-invented but he feels they need reform. People have come to use these tools addictively and have been influenced into sharing information without actually reading it.

Wild West

The social scientist compared the Internet to the wild west. He feels that just as in the days of the wild west law followed the pioneers, so it must be with the Internet. Without public regulation he sees the corporations taking over our democracy.

The President’s adviser believes that one of the reforms required is a tax on tech giants on the data they collect and use. He sees this as essential for controlling the spread of Big Data.

Slowing down the revolution

Prof. Zybertowicz argues for international dialogue to slow down technological progress. He cites the way that after the Second World War it was possible to slow down the arms race. He believes that this is the moment to slow down the digital race.

He sees the “reckless enthusiasm for technology” as being more dangerous than climate change. The US and China should find a way to agreeing a moratorium on the digital race, he advises.

The academic concludes that “technology must be our servant and not our master”.

Click here to see full interview.