📑 Power, Polarization and Tech

Bookmarked Power, Polarization, and Tech by Chris (Hypervisible Exchange)

Tech platforms, in their majestic equality, allow both rich and poor alike to marshal digital tools to drown out dissenting voices, suppress votes, and spread falsehoods.

Chris Gillard explains that polarisation is always about power:

Polarization can and does occur according to class, gender and gender identity, geography, nationality…but when and where it occurs, it tends to be in service of the powerful and the status quo, not as some “natural” occurrence, but as result of dedicated efforts to create it.

It is a means of engagement and attention.

Polarization keys engagement, and engagement/attention are the what keep us on platforms.

In many respects, social media and silicon valley promotes polarisation for its own good.

Digital technology in general, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter specifically, exist to promote polarization and maintain the existing concentration of power.
The segregated ground of Silicon Valley is both the literal and figurative foundation for the platforms we use, and the design of these platforms, well-aligned with their racist history, promotes notions of free speech and community that are designed to protect the folks in society who already benefit from the most protections.

This is best understood by considering who is protected by these spaces.

Protected category + Protected category = Protected category

Protected category + Unprotected category = Unprotected

This is often a reflection on the inequality within these organisations.

If we had social media and rules for operating on platforms made by black women instead of bros, what might these platforms look like? What would the rules be for free speech and who gets protected? How would we experience online “community” differently than we do now? Would polarization be a bug instead of a feature?

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