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The dark side of digital politics: understanding the algorithmic manufacturing of consent and the hindering of online dissidence

Date added: January 31, 2016

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Various strands of literature on civic engagement, 'big data' and open government view digital technologies as the key to easier government accountability and citizens' empowerment, and the solution to many of the problems of contemporary democracies. Drawing on a critical analysis of contemporary Mexican social and political phenomena, and on a two-year­ long ethnography with the #YoSoy132 networked movement, this article demonstrates that digital tools have been successfully deployed by Mexican parties and governments in order to manufacture consent, sabotage dissidence, threaten activists, and gather personal data without citizens' agreement. These new algorithmic strategies, it is contended, clearly show that there is nothing inherently democratic in digital communication technologies, and that citizens and activists have to struggle against increasingly sophisticated techniques of control and repression that exploit the very mechanisms that many consider to be emancipatory technologies.

IDS Bulletin 47.1 Opening Governance

 

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