The Effect of Internet on Democracy
Democracy is never a mere representation of citizens having the right to vote in their desired leaders. It is about a people endorsed with information accompanied by the freedom of communication. With current technological prowess among states, communicating through technology has been pertinent to each individual or government. Internet usage has been one of the literacy measurement tool and advocacy of issues to a population. Profoundly, the impact internet has had on society and economies can be transformed to democracy. Therefore, this paper analyses the influence of the internet on democracy.
Access to information- Through technology people can access the internet cheaply. Social media such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook have become among the greatest informant to individuals. Consequently, free access to news on online platforms acts as channels for informing people on current affairs. The Internet has enabled a swift exchange of ideas, empowering citizens thus, promoting democracy. Through information from the internet, people’s mindset changes and their awareness of world issues increases.
Transparency and accountability- E-Systems in existence due to the internet have made government services easily accessible to citizens. The e-governance models enhance transparency and provide evidence to citizens on operationalization of government projects. Issues like election results and corruption have been transformed due to information and power the internet has had on people. Coherently, it has augmented political participation and sustainable democratic governments. Apparently, the internet has become a social change tool used by many activists, politicians and policy makers. However, many states have also crumbled due to the information levied on the net.
Crowd-voicing- People unite to act upon an issue being shared on the internet. The internet has become the voice of human rights protection and a monitoring scale for government performance. Unfortunately, this aspect can be shattered in the case of an authoritative leadership. In such a scenario, the dictators may use internet for civic mobilization not based on democratic guideline but to promote personal agendas.
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Promotes violence- Regardless of its benefits on democracy, the internet has become a target tool of terror groups and individuals with the intent to disrupt peaceful cohesion in a democratic country. The spread of hatred or ill messages would lead to war break out, violence or encourage terrorism activities. For instance, terror groups like Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda rely heavily on the internet to extend their extremist views.
Internet disconnects- Traditionally, democracy was a community-based concept where individuals interact and communicate. The poor and rural individuals without access to internet services may be left out thus, failing to promote democracy. The virtual communities are not inclusive of all individuals. Furthermore, it distorts the quality of information. Most of the internet information arises from self-perception leading to information clutter and distortion of messages. Hence, makes political dialog difficult and impeding prevalence of a just society.
Manipulation of domestic affairs- The Internet is a globally accessible gadget without borders. Therefore, interference by individuals outside a country’s border is easy with the internet. For instance, political interference through electronic politics has become rampant. This has led to occurrences of computer attacks and cyber-crimes that inhibit the growth of a democratic environment.
In spite of the impact of the internet on democracy, democracy also influences the use of the internet. In a democratic state, there is the growth of technology, free access to information and a viable environment for internet usage. The type of ruling in a country affects the restriction on internet use. The government may only channel out what they deem fit for the citizens giving a limited opportunity for people to express their views in such forums hence, barring democracy. Essentially, both internet and democracy influence the existence of each other.
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