5 Ways Social Media Will Disrupt Politics

Digital platforms took center stage in the election process when former President Barack Obama used them to reach young voters and win the presidency in 2008. Since then, its growing use and influence has also raised alarms in the form of possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Recently, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) called for a new platform that lets elected officials and their constituents engage in more productive and mutually beneficial ways.

“The social media platforms we have today usually do not create the kind of productive discourse useful for accurate representation and good government,” Crawford wrote, attributing their shortcomings to the profit motive of the providers. He then called for the creation of “an idea-based debate in a space where money doesn’t overwhelm and distort the process.”

I agree 100 percent.

We need to create a platform that’s not entirely driven by money. Before the technology can be built, however, we need to acknowledge what our goals are for a democracy-enhancing tech disruptor. Here are some thoughts on what such a platform would look like:

Promote productive and civil dialog between elected officials and voters

We all know that etiquette and civility quickly become casualties on the internet, and the normalization of these hostile exchanges are bleeding into the real world in disturbing and damaging ways.

Users flock to platforms that give them maximum freedom of expression: What can be done to attract serious and civic-minded users to engage in online political discourse while protecting their freedom of expression?

Let’s look at two wildly different platforms, Twitter and Nextdoor.

Nextdoor isn’t perfect, yet communication among users is consistently less hostile than on Twitter. One possible reason can be the lack of anonymity. Nextdoor requires users’ real names to be displayed and connects people who live in close proximity, which seems to encourage users to reign in hostile remarks. Perhaps a technology platform aimed at increasing civil political discourse needs…

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