Facebook's role in Capitol riot shows chaotic nature of U.S. democracy
First Voice

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An internal investigation into Facebook documents has revealed what has been described as a "damning" picture in the social media giant's role in facilitating, enabling and failing to prevent the U.S. Capitol riots on January 6, when Donald Trump-backed supporters besieged the Congress in an attempt to stop the certification of the presidential election, believing that it had been "stolen" in a conspiracy theory against Trump.

Although Facebook had denied its role in this and later banned Trump from its platform, a whistle blower has provided documents to CNN and other news organizations, alleging that the platform had "misled investors and the public about its role perpetuating misinformation and violent extremism relating to the 2020 election and January 6 insurrection." Facebook has repeatedly denied these accusations.

Facebook's unprecedented power and unchecked influence over American politics both demonstrates and amplifies the chaotic and destabilizing aspects of U.S. bourgeois democracy, promulgating unrest, violence and misinformation and undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the system as a whole.

The Trump-led insurrection was not a flash in the pan but a warning as to how social media giants are creating a more divided, uncertain and dysfunctional country.

The United States likes to big up "freedom" of speech and "freedom" of the press as its core values, but these are always easier said than done. In practice, these two principles are more a question of "who speaks" and "who has the capacity to be heard," offering no guarantee for truth, equality or justice for that matter.

In the U.S. there's also the "freedom" to deceive and tell lies, as well as the "freedom" to manipulate. Such freedoms are not a guarantee of individual rights. On the contrary, they are inherently dangerous tools.

Demonstrators attempt to enter the U.S. Capitol building during a protest in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 6, 2021. /Getty

Demonstrators attempt to enter the U.S. Capitol building during a protest in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 6, 2021. /Getty

Never has that been more the case than in the social media era, which has changed the scope of the world by giving people the ability to influence millions others. These unchecked and uncontrolled online platforms have been a driver of increasingly polarized political debate in U.S.-led Western countries through their ability to inject audiences with fear, division, resentment and an obscure picture of the world.

And when social media tycoons shape algorithms to conform to people's views, preferences and interests, truth and objectivity become more jaded. As a result, many platforms such as Facebook have become a Trojan Horse for malign views, unrest, and ultimate political chaos, which places a strain on the U.S. constitution itself. The January 6 riot was the pinnacle of years of misinformation networks in the United States.

China has few such problems. Why? Because in a system of people's democracy, social media is regulated and kept within the confines of the law. Critics say such a system undermines "freedom" of speech and "freedom" of the press, but, in reality, it creates a stable, prosperous and orderly society which prevents this kind of political dysfunction from ever occurring.

Some Westerners allege that China's democracy is under "surveillance" of the Communist Party of China (CPC). True, China is led by the CPC, but this doesn't mean any harm to democracy and freedom. These Westerners are blind to the fact that China's democracy puts the interests of the people above that of Big Tech that pursues monopolistic and self-interested behavior in an attempt to profit from the political division and disarray of society at large.

China's democracy is a type of whole-process democracy, meaning it runs through all processes including elections, decision-making, management and supervision. This is not an empty slogan as in the United States. In contrast to the U.S. where Big Tech profits at the cost of ordinary Americans, popular opinion in China is collected and fully respected in government's decisions. China puts people, not consortiums, above everything else.

The United States can moan about Facebook, but it has very few tools and means to properly regulate it and control its behavior. The political chaos that has shaped the U.S. landscape illustrates how American democracy is unsuited for a digitally connected world, where the rule of law is degraded by the rule of the mob.

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