The Weekly Stripe – 15.11.19
As the UK approaches a historic December election, we've been reading about the relationship between technology and politics. Despite the rise of new technologies, deep-rooted forms of power such as money and sexism continue to shape election outcomes in both the online and offline worlds.
End-to-end encryption on messaging platforms is key to protecting individuals’ privacy, but makes it difficult to identify, study and counter misinformation, with increasingly alarming implications for democracy. The TOW Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University experimented with methods for analysing political conversations on WhatsApp during the 2019 Indian elections.
Amazon’s recent attempts to influence the Seattle city council elections raised eyebrows, as well as questions around the relationship between tech giants and the politics of the cities they inhabit.
Twitter’s decision to ban all political ads has faced backlash from critics for failing to tackle the root problems around political campaigning, misinformation and social media platforms. As Natasha Lomas writes: “where social media self-regulation is concerned, what we are being given is — at best — just fiddling around the edges.”
Deepfake technology is the latest development in a long history of sexualising and denigrating female politicians. Both through the use of real images in the case of ‘revenge porn’ or fabricated visual content, women have long been disproportionately targeted by a particularly personal kind of political misinformation. The failure to understand deepfakes within this context is rooted in societal and cultural gender inequality, argues Soraya Chemaly.
Technology is not inherently democratic or undemocratic, and could yet be harnessed to have positive impacts on political process and outcomes. Here are 8 ways in which technology could change the voting process.