Conspiracy Theories And Algorithms Are Hurting Democracy
As more people fall deep into conspiratorial thinking. Is Silicon Valley doing enough to stop this threatening trend?
There’s never been a better time to become a conspiracy theorist. From the moon landing, staged in a TV studio, to global warming, a hoax invented by scientists, and even vaccinations being evil and causing autism, conspiracy theories are more alive, more pervasive and widespread than they have ever been before in history.
Conspiracy theorists are thriving in the current political climate, and they might be shaping it too. We are at a pivotal moment in democracy since post-truth reality is gaining ground and penetrating every corner of the political and social spectrum. Amid this explosive growth, are conspiracy theories a threat to one of democracy’s bedrock: a collective commitment for the truth?
The growing reach and scale of conspiracy theories is astonishing as theories swiftly and rapidly crossed over the internet into the real world. Disillusion with democracy and distrust of the political apparatus and the media appear to be the main reasons why conspiracy theories have been flourishing over the last few years.
For years, conventional wisdom said conspiracy theories lived inside the obscure blogosphere — such as alt-right playground 4chan — and that those behind the strange convictions and beliefs — most notoriously Alex Jones — were incapable of damaging, not even, touching the pillars of democracy. That notion nowadays, unfortunately, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Since the arrival of social media and the rise of populism across the western world, it all had dramatically changed. Experts agree that President Trump is one of the most prominent enablers of this growing trend. By constantly deploying an arsenal of misinformation, lies, and conspiracy thinking into the mainstream, conspirator-in-chief has provided conspiracy collectives with a platform and a voice — a strong one — something they lack before.
Whereas before the harmless eccentrics disseminating their ludicrous theories used to deliberate their views off the street, and gather away from the public’s view. Now they do it openly…