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How Technology Has Changed Politics Forever



By Politics Desk



Tuesday, June 7, 2017.



For some time now, the arena for political debates has migrated away from bars and office water coolers to smartphones and computers. Have a quick scroll through a page of YouTube comments, even if the video has nothing to do with politics, and soon enough you’ll see someone getting on their soapbox. Although the way we talk about our views has changed drastically, there are various other ways that technology has influenced politics.


The Influence of Social Media

Facebook and Twitter have completely warped the way that political candidates interact with the electorate. Cast your mind back to the 2004 Bush vs Kerry campaign. Barely anyone had heard of Facebook, and Twitter didn’t even exist as an idea. While the candidates were reaching out to the public as best as they could, they had no real outlet for speaking directly to individual voters or groups, and people had no platform for sharing and debating their views. These days, there’s a constant and (mostly) two-way tool for communication between political candidates and the electorate. You’ve probably experienced the effects of this at some point today. On the other hand, social media channels are an unregulated soapbox, where people can spread unsubstantiated opinions and fake news, which could go viral and swing an election overnight.

The Uncertainty of Digital Voting

Since the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, the subject of political hacking and cyber attacks has been on everyone’s mind, and everyone’s social media feed. Electronic voting has skyrocketed in democracies all over the world. Governments have taken every step possible to make this channel secure from interference, and projects like the Smartmatic app are always in the works, but the evidence suggests that there’s still work to be done. All over the world, the progress of technology has been leading to populations that are more and more comfortable with tech, and more capable of committing cybercrime. As we move into the future, countries are going to be under more pressure to ensure total security of their elections.

The Threat of Virality to Candidates

Over the course of an election, media channels always keep a close eye on candidates, but the social media revolution has allowed the media to watch them even more closely. The social channels we all use run in real time, and are constantly linked up to various other social channels. This means that speeches made by candidates are always being played and replayed, dissected by the public, and shared on a viral scale in some cases. The long and short of it is that once a candidates’ words make it onto social media, they stay there forever. These days, political candidates always need to work under the assumption that there’s someone around with a smartphone, recording everything they say and do, ready to share it with the entire world at the tap of a touchscreen. On the one hand, this has encouraged much greater transparency. On the other, it’s meant that the media sometimes falls into overly sensational, paparazzi-esque reporting.



How Technology Has Changed Politics Forever

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