Social Networking and Elections

WWW Talk,

Greetings. In a 2010 Scientific American article, Tim Berners-Lee indicated some concerns about social networking websites. Concerns were expressed about social networking websites which were described as "walled gardens". Concerns indicated included that social networking websites were "walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web" and he warned Americans that, if Facebook and others proceeded unchecked, "the Web could be broken into fragmented islands" and "we could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want."

In January of this year, parties, including Politico, purchased bulk social networking data of a political nature from Facebook. "Social media has forever changed the way candidates campaign for the presidency," said John F. Harris, editor in chief of Politico. "Facebook has been instrumental in expanding the political dialogue among voters and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to offer our readers a look inside this very telling conversation."

Amidst privacy, civil liberty, and other societal concerns, resultant concerns include a need for a new reasoning, possibly new legislation, with regard to some political processes in the information age such as reapportionment, redistricting, or gerrymandering. In 1994, Ted Harrington, political science chair at the University of North Carolina indicated "there is no issue that is more sensitive to politicians of all colors and ideological persuasions than redistricting. It will determine who wins and loses for eight years."

Voters should have easy access to the platform and campaign information of federal, state and local candidates. Even with the expansive potential of web-based news, we can observe that national news and election news have continued to eclipse state and local news and election news. It could be that insufficient menu systems on news websites, such as Google News, have contributed to the perpetuation of partisan politics, some coattail effects, and the status quo.

The United States' two-party system more resembles those of formerly British island nations (e.g. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Figi, Grenada, Jamaica, Malta, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago) or island British territories (e.g. Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands) than the multi-party political systems of some larger and populous nations with historical ties to the British Empire (e.g. Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Jordon, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Great Britain).

As we approach two years since the aforementioned Scientific American article, a broad and comprehensive list of concerns can be compiled from the various opinions of many scientists and technologists.

A socialization industry is a cause for concern with regard to democratic elections.

It occurs that computer technology, P2P technology, can facilitate decentralized socialization scenarios on the Internet. So too can results of research into networking protocols for distributed social networking applications, e.g. HTTP 2.0 based, XML-based technologies, as well as developer libraries.

Kind regards,
Adam Sobieski 		 	   		  

Received on Wednesday, 5 September 2012 17:15:38 UTC