Author Archives: Joshua Hindle

The Great Hack: What we should take away

If you have  a Netflix account it’s likely you’ve already seen The Great Hack.  This near two hour documentary  details the Cambridge Analytica scandal and examines the wider issue of our rights to our data. For many Liberal Democrat campaigners and Pro-EU activists who have kept up with this whole scandal, what the documentary revels is not new  but it leaves us with a cause that should be a natural rally for the Liberal Democrats.  It creates a foundation for meaningful policy regarding the giants of Silicon Valley and how our democracy and use of social media can work in harmony with each other. 

The Great Hack hints towards a potential path for the party which links our belief in economic liberalism and property rights along with our belief in privacy and personal freedom. Currently the data which we willingly leak onto social media is just skin deep for the user but behind the curtain this data is valuable information for advertisers and campaigners to ensure that the ‘right’ advertisement on visible on your Facebook or Twitter news feed. Globally this can range from the harmless like a good deal for a tent on Amazon to horrific and extreme cases where military personal in Myanmar manipulated users  using Facebook to facilitate genocide towards the Rohingya people.

Every day in the UK we see thousands  drawn into arguments online  and very little room is left for compromise or compassion. To paraphrase Carol Cadwalladr, in an effort to connect people, these social media moguls have instead facilitated on driving us apart. This has allowed for a sense of invincibility of consequence to our words and a thin layer of anonymity where we dehumanise to an extent those we disagree with and pander to those we do. It is vital that the Liberal Democrats start to lead the charge on how we should be thinking of social media differently as this is now here to stay and will be (already is in some cases) a central part of our lives.

 To start we need to explore the idea of breaking down Facebook’s monopoly of social media as Sir Vince Cable has mentioned in the past. Even though since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke Facebook’s users took a very minor hit, those same users appeared to just simply switch to Instagram which is also owned by Facebook. Secondly we must be fighting now for a major review of our electoral law and its relation to social media especially after the Culture Committee expressed the current laws are not ‘fit for purpose’.

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