We tend to link democratic platforms that enable free speech with the utopian ideal of making every voice heard: a belief that marginalised voices will have an equal platform. But it's clear that open platforms like Facebook & Whatsapp have, by showing us more what resonated with our views, deepened our bubbles.
We didn't count on the sophistication of bad actors to learn the tools of this trade and leverage them to their own advantage. Those who mastered these tools to brew hate, fear, [insert-other-strong-emotion-here] and harness it for their means found one common truth:
In order to shape beliefs, emotion is far more powerful than information
Inserting emotion into views drives them further from centre bringing us to an us-vs-them world. Driven by disinformation on Whatsapp, such emotion has led to the spate of kidnappings, murders etc highlighted in the news recently.
As this issue enters public debate, we must also consider where to draw the line between effective marketing and dangerous manipulation. Fake news is not simply created by bored people on the internet. Large organisations are systematically leveraging this strategy for their ends.
Here is some food for thought: