How did this social-media behemoth evolve from a college project to an international phenomenon with the insidious potential to sway democratic elections both in America and the UK?
The simple answer lies in users’ desire to be noticed, to feel special, to be “published.” Not even the FBI imagined that people would willfully expose themselves so thoroughly and unabashedly. Social media seemed, on its face, a benign way of sharing family photos and announcing special events. But we now realize that “putting yourself out there” invites strangers in.
Information mining, we now know, resulted in an election where 3 million votes were not enough of a majority in a democratic election where every votes is supposed to count. If subversive elements can influence voting in a few states, the popular vote is overruled and democracy fails. Facebook users were exposed to all kinds of political myths and madness. Malcontents rarely care about counter evidence.
In a perfect society, citizens arm themselves with verifiable facts relating to social and political issues, and world affairs via a free and fact-based press, So, too, do we discern the character of a person by their actions, not just their self-serving words. Does the person lie or cheat? Does he or she flatter themselves and refuse to apologize for abuses? There are many barometers by which we can assess the nature of a person, especially a person that seeks to lead our country – matters involving experience, judgment, and temperament. The thing about corruption is that, by definition, it eats away at the facade and inevitably becomes apparent.
Americans are now in a place where they are motivated to restore faith in our democratic institutions because that faith has been shaken by one chaotic man. Our next choice must be made by voters who are clear eyed, determined, and informed. Maybe it’s time we took responsibility for protecting against needless intrusion into our privacy and ensure that our votes are decisions that represent the best interests of our government and all of us.
– Sandra Gill