Emergent Authoritarianism of Internet

J. J. Baloch


Donald Trump success in 2016 presidential elections has brought forth the truth of how significantly the internet dictates and influences the mind and choice of the people in free societies. Numerous scholars fear that the fate of elections and democracy is by all accounts puny and murky because of online helplessness for moving the appointive procedure. Internet’s democratic authoritarianism is an emerging threat to the future of democracy as a system of governance that rests its claims on the belief of an individual’s freedom and ability to self-rule.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces a congressional hearing on how Facebook information was utilised amid the 2016 presidential election. Friedman maintains that Mark Zuckerberg is in a troublesome position. From one viewpoint, his business keeps running on making his clients accessible for marketing. In pitching access to his clients, he usually needs them to be both available and persuadable. On the off chance that he denies these two premises, the earnings of promotions and advertisements on the Facebook decrease. Then again, on the off chance that he insists the value of the advertisement, he will then be viewed as making an engine that undermines democracy.

The online advertising has been developing unfathomable. Be that as it may, this doesn’t mean it is ending up more viable. Many argue that the Russians meddled in the U.S. election by spreading false news stories enabling Donald Trump to win the U.S. presidency. In the United States, the cases of ill-conceived elections date back to 1824, when Andrew Jackson accused John Quincy Adams of taking the election. Be that as it may, the internet issue is diverse because it eventually affirms that the voter’s mind research is so powerless against the manoeuvres of internet marketing that a Hillary Clinton voter influenced to vote in favour of Trump and the other way around.

The endeavour to delegitimize elections has turned out to be normal. First, In the United Kingdom, against Brexit campaigners have attempted to switch the result of the submission by asserting that the defenders of Brexit lied and deceived the unmindful. Secondly, in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu’s electoral triumph was held suspect by some due to his very late cautioning of high Arab voter turnout with an end goal to rally his supporters. Thirdly, be that as it may, it has been in the United States where the most outstanding claim was made, and that claim was constructed widely in light of the power of the internet. Lastly, the claim that the Russians interceded in the election, mostly by taking messages and halfway by planting lies on the internet has raised political alarm bell for democracy as a reliable system to protect freedom. Aside from this plot, it’s contended, Trump might not have won. Add to this the Cambridge Analytica undertaking and the scheme becomes much thicker.

The association between claimed Russian obstruction and Cambridge Analytica is dim. However, they are both being utilised as cases of how the internet can influence election come about. The critics doubt such methods are sufficiently compelling to change voters’ minds and impact the result of a presidential election. Some claim that Cambridge Analytica was an ultimate power in Trump’s election. Indeed it isn’t clear how powerful Cambridge Analytic’s exercises were. The suggestion to take action, as advertisers call it, was to have those people who got altered promotions or another substance vote in favour of Trump.

The core issue isn’t one of promoting yet one of the citizenries, argues Friedman. On the off chance that the residents’ minds are so helpless against untruths and control, a definitive supposition of advertising is that once you discover voters, you can induce them to do things they would not do something else. A critical inquiry would then be whether this has dependably been valid and the internet makes the procedure more productive, or whether internet innovation inconceivably expands voters’ vulnerability. From one perspective, the eagerness of voters to alter their opinions in light of the data they get should be a centre segment of popular government. A voter unequipped for altering his opinion debilitates majority rule system. Be that as it may, the internet can control – as opposed to impact – somebody’s mind, at that point, the internet jeopardise democracy. This is the reason the subject of how viable internet advertising cuts to the core of democracy.


In spite of the fact that suitable data isn’t available, yet numerous political researchers speculate that a significant portion of the campaign advertising went to individuals who weren’t powerless to be controlled and that the individuals who were vulnerable as of now had their minds made up. In any case, others do guarantee that the faith in the power of the internet has made a doubt that a chose competitor can be ill-conceived.

Friedman aptly evaluates: “One of the foundations of a democracy is the willingness of the defeated to accept the outcome of the election and to go into loyal opposition, planning for the next election. If that is lost and elections are no longer definitive, then the governance of the Republic becomes illegitimate. Therefore, the question of whether online marketing is so powerful as to reshape the mind of the voter and thereby the election becomes an issue central to our democracy”.

Since that is the situation, everybody will attempt to play the game of real politics of reaping the maximum benefits of internet influence on changing political opinions of the masses. Thus, the presumption that the voter is controlled by internet carries the weight. The internet as a capable instrument to impact the political decision of the voters is by all accounts a significant test to the vote based system which has confidence in the limit of the voter to settle on the autonomous election in the constituent election.

The expanding role of the internet in shaping political thinking and choices highlights the “tension between international humanitarian law and the individual state’s territorial integrity”. International law accounts for respect of the political sovereignty of the states and bars from foreign or imperialistic interventions, but international powers make violation of this principle on grounds of human rights violations by the target state. The examples of such interventions in recent history have been witnessed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In 2015 Russia and China entered into ‘nonaggression agreement’ for respecting each others’ cyber sovereignty. Russia and China have attracted all BRICS-Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa- to get into the association of cyber sovereignty. Besides this, China has built a “firewall” to protect its cybersecurity and Russia has adopted restrictive laws to control interceptions before Putin finally went into elections.

In Pakistan as well as in Turkey the growing power of the internet was witnessed in grand dharnas and 2016 failed military coup respectively. During Faizabad, sit-in government ordered mainstream media to go off air but the clerics continued to mobilize people using Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram. Similarly, Erdogan saved his government by mobilizing people through Facetime message to independent media channels when the coup staggers had controlled the media channels. Turkish military was unaware that traditional media was no longer the only engine of the message but social media with global operations and networks knows no territorial and physical barriers.

In Pakistan, a significant number of us contend for the online computerised voting system to be introduced. In any case, it is indispensable for us to comprehend that a nation like the USA couldn’t shield their online electoral process from gear charges and obstructions, what to talk of Pakistan where political issues are surrounded by interest, intrigue and notions of conspiracy.

The writer is a senior police officer, an author of Whiter than White, English Novel, and an alumnus of London School of Economics. He can be reached at http://www.javedjiskanibaloch.com and jiskanijavedpsp@gmail.com



Author: PublicPolicyInsights

With MSc Criminal Justice Policy from London School of Economics, London, UK, J. J Baloch has 20 years of work experience. He has worked in National Bank of Pakistan as officer grade 2 from 1995 to 2000. From 2000 till date He is working at Police Service of Pakistan. As an author he has published three books: Introduction to sociology, 2000; On the Art of Writing Essays, 2016; and The Power of Social Media & Policing Challenges, 2016. On 17 March 2017 J.J. Baloch is launching his first novel: "Whiter Than White: The Daughter of The Land of Pure" which is being published by Matador publication from the UK. Besides this, he regularly blogs on Google, Facebook. He also writes articles in English newspaper Dawn and also in some other magazines.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s