How to Fight Back Against the Online Assault on Democracy
Cyrus Krohn, Tom Farmer
—Jill Dougherty, Former CNN Moscow Bureau Chief
Imagine an imminent America where citizens are bombarded with personalized political messages from every smart device – yet information is so suspect, nobody can tell what the truth is. It means oceans of disinformation engineered to sow false beliefs or simply disorient.
The coronavirus pandemic provided a foretaste of an infuriating, dystopian future. From the start Americans fought over the most basic facts of the crisis, from death tolls to quack cures to the wisdom of stay-at-home orders. The splintered digital infosphere bred confusion and delusion, some of it fatal. Now think of our campaigns and elections. The digital information age means more than hyper-targeted, just-for-you messages from insurance companies and presidential candidates alike.
Big Data is on the way to fueling information environments so fine-tuned, no two of us hold the same view of reality, and no two voters hear the same pitch. Already, citizens don’t know who to trust or what to believe – about COVID-19 or anything else. If we ask nothing more of tech providers or digital citizens, the fog will continue to thicken. Irritation will merge into despair and then numbness... and democracy teeters.
Digital pioneer Cyrus Krohn knows the territory, and in Bombarded: How to Fight Back Against the Online Assault on Democracy, Krohn locates the roots of our blooming political chaos in the earliest days of the World Wide Web. But he goes beyond recounting 25 years of destabilizing Internet shock waves and his own role in building digital culture. Krohn rolls out a provocative action plan for rescuing the American system of campaigns and elections while there is still time.