Facebook’s role in unrest


ERR released Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky’s opinion-based news on Facebook’s role in escalating Parisian turmoil.

The story well describes the mechanisms by which social media groups influence people and help bring them out to the streets. He draws parallels with colourful revolutions, whose success and then failures can be blamed on Facebook.

ERR writes: „Immediately after the Arab Spring countries returned to autocracy or into chaos, there was a concern that social media was not able to contribute to a democratic transition. „ However, Facebook and other platforms were never strong in this area: their strength lies in their ability to excite more and more people on topics that interest those people. By amplifying the messages and expanding the thoughts on the topic they were able to stir up a fury where previously there had only been grumbling,“ noted the columnist.“

Bershidsky says that a free society cannot ban Facebook or fully regulate its anger-raising function. Nevertheless, it should be aware of the dangers posed by Facebook and similar platforms to democratic institutions. The irony also lies in the fact that the threat to authoritarian regimes is less: they have learned to manipulate public opinion on these platforms through propaganda, the activities of trolls and intimidation in real life through the help of activists.

Photo: Dave Shea/Flickr/CC