With a large number of people across the world turning towards social media to get news and opinions, the sphere of social media has become a new public space for discussing – and often arguing bitterly – about political and social issues.
On the contrary, some analysts argue that social media was one of the major reasons for the declining health of democracy in nations, according to a new analysis from the PEW Research Centre.
SOCIAL MEDIA AS GOOD FOR DEMOCRACY
The Pew survey of 19 advanced economies showed that ordinary citizens see social media as both a constructive and destructive component of political life, and overall most believe it has actually had a positive impact on democracy. “Across the countries polled, a median of 57% say socialmedia has been more of a good thing for their democracy, with 35% saying it is has been a bad thing,” the analysis said.
In the United States, the study finds that just 34% of adults think social media has been good for democracy, while 64% say it has had a bad impact.
The PEW Centre said that 84% believed that access to the internet and socialmedia have made people easier to manipulate with false information and rumours. It said that a median of 70% considered the spread of false information online to be a major threat, second only to climate change on a list of global threats.
The research also pointed out that a median of 65% people surveyed think it has made people more divided in their political opinions. More than four-in-ten say it has made people less civil in how they talk about politics.
Majority of the people told PEW that social media was an effective tool for accomplishing political goals. Majorities in most countries say it is at least somewhat effective at raising public awareness, changing people’s minds about issues, getting elected officials to pay attention to issues and influencing policy decisions, the survey added.
In Singapore, Malaysia, Poland, Sweden, Hungary and Israel, where 65% or more believe social media has been a good thing for democracy in their country. However, Americans are the most negative about the impact of socialmedia on democracy: 64% say it has been bad.