Raised as a novelty that provided a solution to the problems and limitations of traditional media (long waits for an answer, lack of image, or expensive telephone lines), the social networks they offered immediate communication between individuals without the need for a physical space. However, as a reflection of the future in human development, and as users integrated them into their normality, the gap between what is correct and what is possible became imperceptible.
As a double-edged sword, these digital communication platforms are today tools that misused can lead to deaths or violence, but in good hands they can cause social changes of great impact.
But this was not the case 10 years ago, when they were perhaps a test of the current: simple interfaces that operated under one function at a time (chat, post images or videos) and were not linked, there was no interaction between them.
Its evolution, synthesizes Luis Angel Hurtado, specialist in socio-digital and academic communication of the ONE, played an important role no less than in the democratization processes worldwide. A clear example emerged in 2008, with the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, “Who, not having the characteristics of the ideal American candidate, went against the tide and positioned himself in networks to finally unseat Hillary Clinton and John McCain”.
But its scope passes from the national to the regional, and the management of social movements from the networks saw its consolidation in the cyberactivism of the Arab Spring, that detonated libertarian struggles and the fall of totalitarian regimes in more than a dozen countries of the Middle East and Africa in 2011.
More medals? At least a couple we can remember, promoting global movements on Human Rights, such as the Black Lives Matter and the MeToo and become the infrastructure that sustained the way of life during the Covid-19 pandemic in connected cities.
On the other hand, the corrupt or unethical use of these tools and their little or no regulations encourage the unrestricted dissemination of content that promotes hatred and polarization; serve as a means of propaganda dissemination to leaders who exalt violence (Donald Trump), manipulate the data collection (Cambridge Analytica) and its circumstantial affinity with the strategies of diffusion of terrorism are, instead, the hidden costs in the gray areas of a like.
IS THERE A BALANCE?
The regulation of Internet and social media is, nowadays, an attempt. The search for control of content by large technology firms takes one step forward… and two steps back each time information about alleged mishandling of personal data is leaked.
“What we should promote is digital media literacy, which gives the user the possibility of making educated use of what the Internet offers. With this, you are leaving the citizen the control they currently have over the use of their digital networks without the need for the intervention of the law, “he added. Hurtado Razo.
To a large extent, it is about putting one risk on another, free expression, without state or business censorship, but the possibility that coexistence with hate speech could detonate into something unsuspected after that like.