Data Mining and Democracy: Do the former endanger the latter?



Everything we do online can be traced, stored and analyzed. Advertisements easily sneak into our sincere emotions, use our vulnerabilities against us, and push us in some direction without our knowledge, and of course, by understanding us better than us. Researchers proved that computers are far more accurate at predicting one’s personality than the closest people to oneself. Computers can predict one’s personality as good as a work colleague with 8 likes, as friend with 64 likes and as a family with 120 likes on social media. [4] Changing voters mind will not be that really different from getting customers to swap dairy brand. It’s not hard to imagine this kind of information control may help to born a new kind of authoritarianism. Governments may yield some power by using capacity of predict to forestall any counter behavior and suppress political dissent like what’s happening in China.

It is still ongoing on protest in Hong Kong, the situation quietly different than Mainland China. The study shows that China’s government not censor direct criticism on social media but ones calls to collective action.[5] Chinese state media is essentially buying ads on Twitter and Facebook, with their English language accounts, for the purpose of reaching an international audience to have an impact on Hong Kong protests. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removed or suspended various accounts tied to China’s government to spread twisted information opposing the Hong Kong protests. Both, the government to censor and to spread twisted information and high-tech companies to detect infollution, use data mining.

Will there be any kind of appropriate limits to use of this type of big data application? It is possible that different communities will reach different kinds of consensus on the appropriate limits for such technology.

Trust in information will depend on who you prefer to listen to, rather than the validity of the data sources. According to Gartner’s Top Predictions For 2018 and Beyond, by 2022, the majority of individuals in developed economies will consume more incorrect information than true one and the number of projects that detect false news will increase rapidly. It is more difficult to detect fake content than to create it. The ability of creating false reality will surpass its ability to detect it and it will encourage to have digital insecurities. In the age of surveillance capitalism, Shoshana Zuboff describes as claiming private human experience as products [6], it’s vital to question information before go for it, to follow up news and contents until where they are created and since scientific communities and reputable institutions are our foremost reliable information resources catching up with their relevant literature, books and articles will keep us safe, likely for now.



[1] (The End of Civilizations and the Remaking of the Last Man: Examining the Ideas of Francis Fukuyama and Samuel P. Huntington in Relation to the Geo-Political Developments of the Post-Cold War. Mark J. W. Poynter, 2013)

[2] (Facebook, the Media and Democracy: Big Tech, Small State? By Leighton Andrews, September 2019)

[3] (Data Subjects’ Privacy Rights: Regulation of Personal Data Retention and Erasure University of Colorado Law Review, Vol. 90, 2019, Alexander Tsesis, Loyola University Chicago School of Law)

[4] (Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans, Wu Youyoua, 1, 2, Michal Kosinskib, 1, and David Stillwella, a Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, United Kingdom; and b Department of Computer Science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, 2014)

[5] (Reverse-engineering censorship in China: Randomized experimentation and participant observation, Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts, 2014)

[6] (The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, Book by Shoshana Zuboff, 2018)



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