Digital Impacts On Political Affairs

Digital Impacts On Political Affairs

In the past two decades, the internet has left virtually no area of our lives untouched. Whether it be commerce or communication, we're increasingly using digital technologies to keep us informed and help us take action.

The realm of politics is no exception to this. Although many of our political institutions may be hundreds of years old, they are not immune to the effects of the digital revolution.

One of the key areas in which the greater public come into contact with the political establishment is through the form of voting. But ballot boxes may soon be a thing of the past, as the advanced democracies of Switzerland and Estonia have both recently carried out the first successful examples of electronic voting.

Despite some reservations about the possibilities of hackers being able to sabotage such an important activity, the voting was by large judged to be a success. Similarly, over the years it has become common practice for bookmakers to offer odds on big political events, and as the Coral site shows, it's now easier than ever for the public to quickly get a digital overview of the changing political environment.

The ability to provide the populace with a much more liberated flow of information about political events has also caused many dramatic changes in society too. The Arab Spring uprising was one of the first instances of revolution that was thought to have been facilitated by the use of mobile technologies to spread information and assemble like-minded individuals.

Such instances have frequently been seen through political organisations using social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to increase their popularity and communicate directly to their followers. Whilst the rise of easily-accessible information regarding political and social affairs can be liberating for many individuals, the fact that Islamic State have successfully used social media to recruit new followers has provided a chilling reminder as to how powerful these new technologies can be.

Another controversial way in which digital technologies have changed the political environment can be found through the practices of hacking and leaks. The Wikileaks controversy showed how a vast amount of confidential information could instantly be disseminated across the globe, and the Edward Snowden affair has illustrated the way in which many of our governments are involved in surveillance activities upon our day-to-day lives.

So whilst the digital revolution has provided all of us with a dramatically increased access to political information, it can also have many more sinister effects too.

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