Just a small reminder that this is hardly democracy

Or democratic free speech, for that matter.

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Source: Social Media Echo Chambers Drown Out the Voices in the Middle

At a time when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, we should be living in a utopia of public discourse. We are living, instead, in a ”(Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech”. And the reasons are that:

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  • the current “algorithmic public sphere” is “optimized for engagement”, not information and productive discourse. Quite the contrary, actually
  • but above all “all this online speech is no longer public in any traditional sense”
  • and it also is very easy to censor and monitor

Fixes are really hard to find, at least within the current platforms. Because the businesses we have called telecoms and social media are “behavior collection businesses”. One of the best, if extreme examples of the consequences may be recent history in Cambodia:

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Facebook was supposed, or should we say “sold”, to “open up societies like Cambodia”. But it did just the opposite, with disastrous consequences for its fragile politics.