Many Tech Experts Say Digital Disruption Will Hurt Democracy

Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson at Pew Research Center: “The years of almost unfettered enthusiasm about the benefits of the internet have been followed by a period of techlash as users worry about the actors who exploit the speed, reach and complexity of the internet for harmful purposes. Over the past four years – a time of the Brexit decision in the United Kingdom, the American presidential election and a variety of other elections – the digital disruption of democracy has been a leading concern.

The hunt for remedies is at an early stage. Resistance to American-based big tech firms is increasingly evident, and some tech pioneers have joined the chorus. Governments are actively investigating technology firms, and some tech firms themselves are requesting government regulation. Additionally, nonprofit organizations and foundations are directing resources toward finding the best strategies for coping with the harmful effects of disruption. For example, the Knight Foundation announced in 2019 that it is awarding $50 million in grants to encourage the development of a new field of research centered on technology’s impact on democracy.

In light of this furor, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center canvassed technology experts in the summer of 2019 to gain their insights about the potential future effects of people’s use of technology on democracy….

The main themes found in an analysis of the experts’ comments are outlined in the next two tables….(More)”.