Final thoughts

December 4th, 2016

This past week, we discussed the internet in light of the recent political election as well as internet in developing countries. I found the first topic to be incredibly interesting and hope to focus on the role of automated accounts in this entry. After reading the articles, I found one statistic particularly surprising: β€œmore than a third of pro-Trump tweets and nearly a fifth of pro-Clinton tweets between the first and second debates came from automated accounts, which produced more than 1 million tweets in total.”

These automated accounts, usually able to respond immediately after a tweet is published, play a huge role in shaping the direction of the following discussions. As users usually see the tweet itself as well as the first few responses, what those responses say would heavily influence the conversation. An interesting question would be if these automated twitter accounts were created by Trump or Clinton campaign teams or if the accounts were created by their avid supporters. In both cases, how would we be able to regulate these automated responses, if they should be regulated at all? In my opinion, the role of a regulator should be attributed to the Federal Elections Commission as opposed to Twitter or social media platforms themselves. In light of the increased role social media plays in elections, the FEC should consider the role of this new platform and the rules that should be in place to prevent misuse of these platforms. Since the power of social media has only become the focus of public attention in the past two elections, it would be interesting to see when FEC will focus on this issue and how they will regulate the many ways that social media could be used.

To conclude this blog entry, I would like to thank Porf. Waldo and Dean Smith for a wonderful, wonderful seminar. After discussions in class, I have been more sensitive to news about the internet and misconceptions that I have held about how the internet works. I could not have wished for better professors for one of my first classes at Harvard. πŸ™‚

2 Responses to “Final thoughts”

  1. Mike Smith said:

    I wonder what you and others can do to encourage the FEC to take up this issue. πŸ™‚

    I posted my comment on your last blog entry as you were posting this one. Please look at my final comments on that entry for my thanks for your fantastic participation this fall. Happy holidays!

  2. Jim Waldo said:

    I agree that the FEC is a better regulatory authority than Twitter or Facebook, but I also wonder what they can do in relationship to social media. I suppose they could try to outlaw bots, but there is a fine line to be drawn between this and messing with freedom of speech (so that the Supreme Court doesn’t step in). There used to be a rule for television networks that required them to give equal time to all of candidates in their coverage, which was dropped some years ago when it became impossible for the networks to comply (who is a candidate? What is equal– minutes, number of stories, or…) and impossible for the FEC (or the Federal Communications Commission) to enforce.

    Interesting times…

    Thanks for all you brought to the class– I’m so glad you accosted me at the food truck that first week of class. Have a great break, and drop by next semester…

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