Racism and social media: The judge or the computer programmer?

by Edgar Szoc, BePax

At a time when, for a growing part of the citizens, social networks are the first source of information – without hierarchy, editorial work and ranking other than that imposed by our “friendships” and the obscure operation of algorithms, it is vital to ask what links this new mode of sociability and “consumption” of information has with racism and calls for hatred.

This is a truism: the emergence of the Internet in general and social networks in particular has brought about considerable transformations of the modes of communication of information but also of “political affects”. Without listing here all these transformations, it may be useful to return to the sometimes paradoxical effects of one of the main ones: the radical democratization of the process of publishing, publishing or disseminating information. . To get an idea, just remember how reduced was the circle before the advent of the Internet for people likely to address more than one thousand people at a time. In this privileged situation, there were only a few political representatives, rare scientists or experts, representatives of civil society.

Ambiguous horizontalization

Henceforth, if the barriers to mass diffusion have not disappeared, they have fundamentally changed in nature: it is no longer a few ” gatekeepers ” who are in charge of deciding who has a sufficiently legitimate and “authorized” word can be broadcast. Or, in any case, alongside the old media logic that continues, have appeared new rules if no legitimacy, at least advertising, which make visibility on social networks depend not on the recognition of this legitimacy by these famous ” gatekeepers ” but the mastery of the rules and codes of this particular grammar to social networks.

No one will dispute the democratic virtues of this “horizontalization” of the process of publishing, publishing and disseminating information, which at least potentially allows Facebook’s 2 billion users – to speak only of this network, to benefit from loudspeakers which they were deprived until then. But no one will be able to dispute that 2 billion loudspeakers do not necessarily facilitate the hearing and that, via Facebook and other networks of the same type, it is the coffee of the trade which is invited in the “consumption” of information…

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