There is so much disinformation flying around today that it is becoming a threat to our form of democracy. Why that is and who is responsible for reigning it in? That is what this post is all about.
Is our form of democracy doomed to failure in the 21st century? One of the hardest principle for any fledgling democracy is the idea of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Perhaps the primary example of this is the pre-Putin period in Russia. After the wall came down everyone one in Russia was convinced that they could now get the things that those in the West had by turning to a democracy. That worked even through some weak leaders. But then along came Putin and his desire to be an autocrat. He has now proclaimed to be on an unlimited term in office and has decided that he is the only one to speak truth.
Now, getting to the point of this post.
The Internet allows anyone with a connection and a few dollars to become a “Journalist”. Even me. 😋 Too many then go about spewing things they know to be lies. The more asinine the lies, the more views they seem to get. The more views they get the bolder they get in fabricating anything to get even more attention.
This by itself would not be a death knell for a democracy if its citizens lived up to the Jeffersonian requirement of staying informed. An informed electorate is absolutely necessary to democracy. That means that it is up to the reviewer to skillfuly parse though all the lies to get to the truth? But, how can we do that ourselves?
Disinformation, no let’s call it what it is and that is lies, should be the responsibility of the gatekeepers. Since most of these lies are found on social media sites that mean the people who manage and gain profits from these sites. But, the big question is, how do we do that? There has to be some means of keeping those who knowingly propagate gross untruths to suffer the result of their lies?
Do we really want to let Google and other huge organizations decide what to remove from their sites? Since everyone now claims to be a journalist, how do we enforce libel and plagiarism? That seems to be the question of the century for us and other democracies who know that “real” freedom of the press is not inhibited by the person flagrantly telling lies is prosecuted.