Connect with us

Global Banking and Finance Review is an online platform offering news, analysis, and opinion on the latest trends, developments, and innovations in the banking and finance industry worldwide. The platform covers a diverse range of topics, including banking, insurance, investment, wealth management, fintech, and regulatory issues. The website publishes news, press releases, opinion and advertorials on various financial organizations, products and services which are commissioned from various Companies, Organizations, PR agencies, Bloggers etc. These commissioned articles are commercial in nature. This is not to be considered as financial advice and should be considered only for information purposes. It does not reflect the views or opinion of our website and is not to be considered an endorsement or a recommendation. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of any information provided with respect to your individual or personal circumstances. Please seek Professional advice from a qualified professional before making any financial decisions. We link to various third-party websites, affiliate sales networks, and to our advertising partners websites. When you view or click on certain links available on our articles, our partners may compensate us for displaying the content to you or make a purchase or fill a form. This will not incur any additional charges to you. To make things simpler for you to identity or distinguish advertised or sponsored articles or links, you may consider all articles or links hosted on our site as a commercial article placement. We will not be responsible for any loss you may suffer as a result of any omission or inaccuracy on the website. .

Top Stories

Technology and politics: The tech backlash and what that means for child safety online.

Technology and politics: The tech backlash and what that means for child safety online.

By Dr Rachel O’Connell and Aebha Curtis of TrustElevate.

The relationship between the internet, politics, and child safety is multifaceted and complex. In the heady days of social media’s emergence onto the political scene, Obama’s 2008 campaign team skilfully used social media to raise money and, crucially, develop a groundswell of empowered volunteers. These volunteers felt that they could make a difference and set a new standard for political campaigning. They also made effective use of the online, data-driven advertising marketplace in a way and on a scale that was unprecedented. Obama’s success helped to engender what now seems like a somewhat naive belief in the power of social media to enable democratization.

The poster child of that democratization was the Arab Spring of 2010. Social media was a critical factor in facilitating the movement, which sought to overthrow a number of autocratic regimes. A study conducted by the Dubai School of Government, titled the Arab Social Media Report, analysed the impact of social media in the Arab region. The report concludes that the “growth of social media in the region and the shift in usage trends have played a critical role in mobilization, empowerment, shaping opinions, and influencing change.” What ensued was a belief amongst politicians worldwide that social media is integral to the motivation of political actors, right down to voters, and consequently their election campaigns. In many cases, politicians and their campaigners looked to thriving online advertisers and their apparently successful models of manipulation, which reinforced the view that these new data-driven campaign tactics were the winning formula. Reach, virality, amplification and microtargeting became part of the vocabulary for every political campaign team. The resultant side effects of such data-driven practices, which included risks to child safety, were ignored. These risks involved enabling adults with a sexual interest in children easy access to victims and promoting content that leads to eating disordered behaviours, self-harm and suicidal ideation. Instead, concerns about child safety online were regarded as an extension of, for example, stranger danger offline that internet safety education programmes would address.

In 2011, Facebook hired Katie Harbarth, a former Republican digital strategist who worked on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential campaign. Harbarth led Facebook’s global government and politics team, working with nearly anyone seeking or securing power. Harbarth’s team has travelled the globe helping political clients use the company’s digital tools. They were even known to have worked with those who use the platform to stifle opposition—sometimes with the aid of “troll armies” that spread misinformation and extremist ideologies.

The Cambridge Analytica case is one of the most widely known examples of this. It involves a data analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica leveraging Facebook’s capabilities to microtarget users for the purposes of swaying their political preferences in favour of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The case ultimately lifted the lid on the underside of digitally-facilitated political campaigning, which underscored that social media represents a threat to society and democracy rather than the new dawn of democratization. Whilst the Cambridge Analytica scandal unfolded, public trust in the most influential platforms on the planet was undermined, and journalists and whistleblowers continued to shed light on further examples of the negative impacts wrought on citizens the world over. This included rumblings of Facebook being used to incite hatred and violence in Myanmar.

Despite the efforts of journalists, activists and increasingly upset citizens, social media platforms did not take their feet off the pedal. This led to the January 6 coup in the U.S., fuelled once again by microtargeting and political disinformation; techniques also implicated in the massacre of the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

How were these companies, who had been revealed to be using data-driven operations to actively undermine democracy years earlier, allowed to continue to do so by our world leaders?

As these companies’ market power grew alongside the dependency of politicians on social media, the web of Big Tech’s influence and political clout became embedded. Lobbying to counteract concerns about the consequences of social media platforms’ operations, including child safety, data protection and consumer rights, fell foul to this new power. Big Techs flew the flag for self-regulation, and their mantra, “we know best how to protect you (and your children)”, has meant that, for two and half decades, the stewardship for child safety online was in the hands of the industry with limited effective oversight by policymakers.

Furthermore, lobbyists pedalled the idea that the data these companies process fuels the data economy: “Data is the new oil, leading to jobs and overall improvement in society. We and our data operations can help you get elected.”

However, there is growing pushback as policymakers witness the negative impacts of social media and data-driven operations on every aspect of society. This new clarity is apparent in the recent Joint Committee’s report on the draft Online Safety Bill, which directly calls for oversight of data-driven processes that impact on child safety. This morning the Wall Street Journal reports on ‘The Corpse Bride Diet’: How TikTok Inundates Teens With Eating-Disorder Videos. TikTok’s AI surfaced this harmful content to vulnerable children and young people. In February 2021, it was reported that Facebook is a Hotbed of ‘Child Sexual Abuse Material’ With 20.3 Million Reports, Far More Than Pornhub. In October 2021, Facebook was responsible for 94% of the 69 million child sex abuse images reported by U.S. technology companies last year.

Action is required, and child safety is not separate but instead deeply interwoven with concerns about A.I. and data handling. Around the world, governments are trying to rein in the most problematic aspects of Big Tech – from disinformation, child safety, and targeted advertising to excessive market power – the digital giants are lobbying hard to shape new regulations.

A challenge to these efforts includes lobbying. Techcrunch reported U.S. giants top tech industry’s $100M+ a year lobbying blitz in E.U. A report published by the Corporate Europe Observatory, states that lobbyists are afforded disproportionate access to policymakers and their message is amplified by a wide network of think tanks and other third parties. Big Techs are now the E.U.’s most significant lobbying spending industry.

In the U.S., on December 15, Amy Klobuchar, Democratic leader of the Senate’s antitrust panel within the judiciary committee, made clear she is tired of waiting on her colleagues to get her desired tech crackdown moving.

It is well past time that politicians and policymakers take a serious look at how the data-driven operations of these companies pose a significant risk to children and young people’s well-being. Parents too can follow the example of Duncan McCann’s class action against YouTube, push for companies to adhere to regulations such as the GDPR which requires companies to age verify and obtain parental consent before processing data. When apps know the ages of users, they can create safer spaces and adhere to the protection affording to children and young people such as no tracking or profiling.

It is not just policy makers and regulators, but citizens, including parent and young people, who can mobilise to take class actions against Big Tech.

Global Banking & Finance Review


Why waste money on news and opinions when you can access them for free?

Take advantage of our newsletter subscription and stay informed on the go!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Global Banking & Finance Review │ Banking │ Finance │ Technology. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Recent Post