Twitter deal: The unseen threat for the democratic world



The recent offer by Elon Musk to buy Twitter has stirred up some heated debate among democratic societies. The pros and cons of the decision and the people’s assumptions of what is right and what is wrong will be tested out in coming days. However, in this article, I would like to focus specifically on an issue which I personally think is a fundamental change happening in every democracy.


In today’s tech world, we think of fundamental rights like the right to freedom of speech, the right to live etc. every now and then. But, why are we discussing about the right to freedom of speech when a public tech company is making a business deal? This point struck me and made me think a bit. After a lot of discussions with my close associates, I have reached this conclusion:

Elon Musk’s offer to Twitter officially insinuates the so-called big tech companies as a decentralised institution which works as a pillar of democracy in today’s political, social and cultural context.

Why is this an important event to focus on? Well, that’s because the previous democratic structure was fully knitted into a circle where all the important information in the eyes of the government was either not accessible to the public for decades or was destroyed even before it reached the table. This secrecy of hierarchy of events created under the legal framework is regarded as the top most priority for the functioning of a society. This helped the government envisioned narrative spread faster and any counterproductive argument was deemed to be a conspiracy, as ‘the sources’ were tough to find.


With the introduction of the internet, this barrier got completely eliminated. People started verifying the information, analysing the arguments put forth by either party and deciding which party was deceitful. Mind it, not truthful but deceitful. Unfortunately, the government(s) narrative fell flat in most of the cases. The increase of such cases eroded the trust between the government and its people, which in return created a vacuum where people find it harder and harder to trust every word that comes out from the official sources. Moreover, the interposing nature of the government with the four pillars of democracy has been evidently seen in certain influential cases. Further resistance led to further interposing. This sense prevails as the term national security in technical aspects predominantly focuses on keeping important information out of the public eye. William Kirtz, associate professor in the School of Journalism at North-eastern University said “Internet makes it so easy to disseminate information—whether or not it harms national security[1].


In the current world order, control over disseminated information is in the hands of big tech companies. This control raised fear in governments, which in return constituted new regulations which directly or indirectly help the government in having a significant role in the company’s decisive structure. With the liberation that we brought through tech, the slow appeal for a decentralised approach has taken a front seat. This drive was fastened by the long and hiatus pandemic lockdowns. A certain section of population now is completely with a belief of decentralisation of institutions and their power dynamics. This, in my opinion, will be the greatest challenge for the democracies in the coming decade. The rise of decentralised mechanisms would lead to an increase in the government’s hand in a free market, which in turn, would destabilise the essence of democracy (in terms of freedom and liberty). If seen around, the seeds are being sown. A perfect blend of freedom and national security in a democratic world would be a greater challenge to address than any other external conflict.



– ANJAN KUMAR


(Opinion expressed by the author is his personal. The Generalist Insights take no responsibility of the opinion expressed.)



Sources:

1. In the Internet age, government secrecy harder to maintain - News @ Northeastern - News @ Northeastern