The challenges for democracy and societal engagement in a connected decade. By Vithória Escobar.

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The year 2020 marks the beginning of a new decade. A lot has changed in the last ten years and technology became one of the most significant and impacting influences in people’s lives.

The advancement and popularity of smartphones were only growing in 2010, as the 224 million existing devices represented less than 20% of total phones sold worldwide. WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, and Netflix were only new to the public, and Facebook was building up its position as the world’s most popular social network.

The online platform WikiLeaks revealed a series of confidential information on governments’ intelligence gathering, political and military strategy back in 2010. The idea of an online society brought at first a perspective of collaboration, transparency, and even democratic empowerment.

Ten years later the world is connected and people engage online constantly. It is 2020 and three billion people, half of the world’s population, own smartphones and over a billion devices are sold per year. People spend hours on their phones daily and every aspect of our lives can be manageable fast and online.

However, the positive and democratic vision of an online society became a dystopian reality of disinformation, alienation, and the absence of online privacy. The freedom of online browsing became controlled and targeted.

In the last decade, the main political moves used social media force and targeted propaganda to organize protests, mobilize their targets and disseminate their ideas. This scenario gave voice to radical ideas, fake news, promoted hate speeches and conspiracy theories, questioning the veracity of science and traditional news media.

The political scientist Giuliano da Empoli says that today’s logic of engagement in social media is in conflict with traditional political and democratic engagement. According to Da Empoli, this is not necessarily negative but it represents a challenge for the new decade, as the public demands from the political agenda the “immediate, narcissist and satisfactory” response of apps.


Vithória Escobar
PR, Digital Marketing and Content Writer

Vithória Escobar tem mestrado em Jornalismo e Relaçōes Públicas (Griffith College Dublin) e graduação em Relações Públicas (Cásper Líbero). Atualmente trabalha com Relações Publicas e Public Affairs em Dublin, Irlanda.