Facebook: A Challenge to Our Democracy

by Camillebouchard on November 4, 2017 - 12:38pm


In the past month of October and even before that,  it was discussed that social media, especially Facebook, had a big impact on the democratic youth of our country. In his article for CBC News, Andrew Wherry lays out the reasons why Facebook can be a threat to a complete and accurate information source for political matters.


Although Wherry agrees that Facebook and other social media are a great way to get people engaged and connected to the world since it can reach people widely. However, his concern is not the platform, but how biased it is in sharing information to the people it reaches. The challenge with Facebook, Wherry underlines, is that the information the user gets will most likely be similar to the first post of video he saw about the subject. For instance, if I  watch a video that spreads negative information about a certain political party, Facebook will most likely suggest me to watch other videos regarding the same subject and that share the same point of view, not allowing me to see the positive aspects of it or even any information about another political party. This acts as a barrier and keeps the user from getting all the information necessary to build an informed opinion about politics.


Other challenges raised by Wherry in his article are the spread of fake news and online advertising. To this day, it is easy for people to create articles or videos that are purposely there to misinform the population on social media. Those fake news, often only put there to cause trouble, will lead people to believe falsehoods and does not allow them to be correctly informed. Online advertising does the same in only having very specific demographics targeted by certain ads. As Wherry says, this makes it hard to know how and by whom voters are being informed.


                Personally, I agree with Wherry’s opinion on the subject. I do believe that social media is a great way to reach masses because I was raised in the digital era and most of the information I get is through social media and the internet. I think that social media plays too big a role in our generation for us not to get our information from there, but we have to do it carefully and use other platforms to complete or add to any information we are getting. However, I think that it would be important to find a way to filter out the fake news and make sure people are informed from different sources in order to access different points of view and create their opinion without getting biased information as much as possible. Furthermore, I think online advertising should target everyone so that all voters get the same information.


In which ways could we ensure that voters are exposed to a range of information that can allow them to be properly informed? Is there a way we could access to unbiased information only?


Wherry, Aaron. “'One of our greatest challenges in the digital era': Worrying about democracy means thinking about Facebook.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 28 Oct. 2017, www.cbc.ca/news/politics/facebook-democracy-karina-gould-analysis-wherry-1.4367168. (Accessed November 1st 2017)


I completely understand the point of view of the article your summary, and found the subject very interesting! It definitely made me think about the way information is accessed and if, as you discuss, Facebook does challenge democracy. Very interesting article summary!

I understand that Facebook indeed is created so that content is specifically chosen for you, that you continue getting access to information that fits what you like and your opinion. Moreover, like you have described in your summary, fake news are very present on the website and easily accessible.

While I completely agree that these aspects indeed challenge democracy, I believe that it is still important to understand that Facebook is still a website that allows for the population to have access to information, which is a part of democracy. This issue of internet as a media has pros and cons, and I can understand both sides. If we discuss the good in facebook, it allows for free speech, as we can share our ideas and beliefs, as well as have access to a platform that gives us new and information, which is crucial in democracy. These are important values to me, therefore I believe that Facebook is still a great platform as a media and should remain so. Though, I also agree with you. Some challenges exist on the website, and I do believe that Facebook should bring more diversity to people with news articles and try to filter out fake news. So I also compltely agree that these issues do challenge democracy in that way.

One issue that is important to adress it the possibility of hate speech. Do you believe that Facebook, although it is great for sharing news and for free speech, can also lead to hate speech? Do you believe that social media is a great media platform?

About the author