Abrams: U.S. 'may choose' to 'abandon our democracy' but not as the result of online disinformation
'A generation can be lost through misinformation,” Abrams said, adding that social media companies should 'eckon with their choices and to do right by our people.'
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Stacey Abrams, former Democratic leader of the Georgia House and potential 2020 vice presidential candidate, said that the U.S. “may choose, as a nation, to abandon our democracy but that should be a choice made knowingly,” not based on disinformation on social media platforms.
Abrams was asked on Monday what she would tell the leaders of social media companies in a one-on-one meeting if she had the chance.
“That their platforms do not exist in a vacuum and their content doesn't exist in a vacuum," she said during a discussion on “Social Media Disinformation and Election Interference” organized by George Washington University. "Our democracy is in a very precarious position. We know that we are in the midst of an authoritarian rise around the world that begins often with democracies that have fallen into the thrall of populist authoritarians and that this is not ancient history. This is recent history."
“Look no further than Turkey, the Philippines, India, Hungary, what may or may not be happening in Poland, what we see happening in Brazil and in this moment, the obligation is to the truth,” continued Abrams, who's on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's shortlist as a running mate. "We may choose as a nation to abandon our democracy, but that should be a choice made knowingly and with full information."
Abrams, also founder of the Fair Fight voter advocacy group, argued that the “only bulwarks we have against this authoritarian rise is our ability to participate fully in our democracy” and that is “undermined every moment” when disinformation “disincentivizes, or worse, convinces people that their role as a citizen is not real.”
“When we add to that the responsibility of the census to not count every citizen, but to count every person in America, then we have to understand that we are not only resting control away from the people who need it most. We are preparing our nation for a decade of loss,” said Abrams, who lost in a 2018 bid to become Georgia governor. “This is not simply about economic power or political power, it is about how we use each decade to plan our future and a generation can be lost through misinformation.”
Abrams said she would ask Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to “look to who they are and their context in the role of history that it is more than simply about profit, and more than about the number of participants; it is about how they are situated in the democratic experiment that is the United States and in a moment of reckoning, we need them to reckon with their choices and to do right by our people.”