Politics moving online is creating an anti-Tory echo chamber in which demonstrable untruths circulate easily
As you likely know Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday and David Cameron paid tribute to him. That provoked this response amongst others:
The thing is: “Cameron started his degree in October 1985, after the FCS faction had printed the material. According to his biographers, Cameron was “not active in student politics” and showed little interest in Conservative student associations.”
This is not the first time this has happened. Shortly after Maria Miller‘s promotion to the cabinet this began circulating around social media:
To say it’s wrong would be an understatement. Firstly, it’s unsourced. Secondly, a number of the votes she’s supposed to have cast took place before she even entered parliament and others were the exact inverse of what she actually did. And finally, the implication that Miller’s appointment would be bad for gay rights has been rather contradicted by her piloting equal marriage through parliament.
Nor unfortunately is this confined to personalities, it can affect policy too. For example, despite being opposed to the utter mess that was the Health and Social Care Act, I’d frequently find myself defending it from people claiming that it would lead to an American style private system. Even though the first section of the bill states that:
The services provided as part of the health service in England must be free of charge except in so far as the making and recovery of charges is expressly provided for by or under any enactment, whenever passed.
What I fear we’re seeing is the emergence of a left-wing ‘echo-chamber.’ Eli Pariser, the former executive director of MoveOn.org, has observed that the internet extenuates our tendency to prefer information sources that bolster our prejudices:
Pariser, who describes his political leanings as “progressive,” said at the annual TED conference that he has always made an effort to befriend both liberals and conservatives on Facebook so he could keep track of the issues each group was discussing. Over time, however, something strange happened, Pariser said: his conservative Facebook friends disappeared from his news feed. He realized that Facebook’s algorithm had “edited them out” because Pariser was clicking more on links from liberal friends than conservative ones.
My fear is that the internet is allowing those on the left to isolate themselves from right-wing views, and that makes it easier to demonise those who hold alternative views. The example of the Tea Party would suggest that’s something to worry about.
P.S. This is not to say that the right doesn’t have its own echo-chamber. It’s just that most my friends are on the left, so that’s the chamber I get to see.