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This is very, very weird

As we look back on the erosion of democracy in recent years, it is becoming increasingly clear that technology platforms are playing a significant role in its downfall. The ability to incite insurrections and coups through these platforms has made a once difficult task alarmingly easy.

The dangers information pollution pose for democracy have long been acknowledged by civil society actors and regulators, but the storming of Brazil’s presidential palace earlier this month serves as a sobering reminder of just how real these dangers have become. More than 1,200 people were arrested in Brazil for attempting a military coup.

It is clear that tech platforms have made misinformation a defining feature of electoral politics, with real-world violence now a possible outcome.

This latest attempt at a military coup in Brazil failed. Quite possibly because tech platforms showed the populace what was happening and they decided to have none of that.

Last century saw at least four successful military coups in Brazil. One of the first things done in each being to take the radio (and later TB) stations and impose restraints upon the press. To control the information flow and thereby limit the ability of the populace to know what was happening and then decide on whether to have any of that.

Tech platforms make successful coups less likely. For exactly the reason that every coup, ever, immediately tries to control the press, right?

18 thoughts on “This is very, very weird”

  1. I recall arguments that Nasser got going in Egypt because of the widescale introduction of cheap transistor radios, that allowed the poor masses to be summoned.

    The more it changes…

  2. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    You have a point there: Russia has far more TB stations than Brazil and they have had zero successful military coups in the last 100 years.

    /pendant -(get) coat

  3. Wasn’t it Stalin who said that the state must control all telephones and printing machines to stop the plebs having their own opinions.

  4. What about here and the US where the government already has control over the press and the coups are more internal such as the election rigging in the US and the farce we call democracy here? It has the opposite impact by making us compliant and believing everything is OK.

  5. Why can I agree with Tim the Greatest here but not with his ridiculous economics?

    Is it because Tim the Wizard just cynically uses “hard money” as a troll to push emotional buttons?

  6. Dumb persons.

    “Technology platform” is a misleading misnomer.

    “Wide/Mass Communications means” is the key thing. A pyramid scheme pamphleteering exercise could work almost as well…

  7. BoganBoy, Sam

    Yes. But it’s hard to tell whether they hate Americans, successful (in their eyes) American companies, successful American ‘tech’ companies, or Elon most. Any one is a trigger to those fools.

  8. It is clear that tech platforms have made misinformation a defining feature of electoral politics

    Hear now the wise words of Prince Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg (1815-1898):
    “Nie wird soviel gelogen wie nach einer Jagd, im Krieg und vor Wahlen.”
    (People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election.)

    Lying has been “a defining feature of electoral politics” not merely for a couple of centuries, but ever since the days of Solon. Anybody who doesn’t understand this really isn’t safe to wander about on their own.

  9. Remember – Twitter is great when it’s used to foment rebellion in countries you don’t like, it’s horrible when it’s used to threaten your own power.

  10. Presumably all the antifa and BLM insurrections in the US have been coordinated using anti-social platforms.

  11. “Tech platforms make successful coups less likely.”

    Unless the coup is supported by the populace. Then, tech platforms make a successful coup more likely.

    Tech platforms merely make it easier to coalesce a populace into a force.

  12. people who talk about the erosion of democracy are mostly people who don’t believe in democracy in the traditional sense. Any sensible person will realise that we sold out democracy many moons ago.

  13. Agreed, Wonko. There’s a huge overlap (in the UK) between those who talk about the erosion of democracy and those still moaning to anyone who will listen about ‘Brexshit’.

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