HomeDatos ÚNUN Data: 81,2% believe that social networks censor for political reasons

UN Data: 81,2% believe that social networks censor for political reasons

49,2% reject the practice of banning on digital platforms.

President Nicolás Maduro has denounced that social media companies have applied censorship techniques to their accounts. “They censor us, they cover us on social media, they don't release it,” he said. The complaint includes the fact that he is not allowed to advertise (promoted content) through these platforms, as the other candidates who will compete in the presidential election on July 28 do. But the President also talks about the “banning” or undeclared blocking of its contents. This is what is known as shadowban or shadow blocking.

Social networks, according to their published policies and terms of service, can penalize accounts and publications if they fail to comply with the rules established by the companies. They can temporarily or permanently block users or prevent them from performing certain actions as a result of inappropriate behavior. But shadowban It consists of an undeclared or unadmitted penalty. The accounts simply see the scope of their content reduced, they do not appear in the feed to users, they do not appear in searches or in lists of hashtags or associated tags. This is achieved through programming each network's publishing algorithm.

En a note published by the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) In January, academics specializing in communication and information commented on the phenomenon of shadowban on social networks from a study carried out by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) based in Washington, USA.

“A user is blocked without the affected person being informed, that is, it is done hidden, in the shadows. It allows you to limit the participation of a user and at the same time prevent them from reacting, since they are unaware that they are being blocked,” explains Professor Silvia Martínez, director of the UOC's Social Media master's degree, in the aforementioned note.

This helps social media corporations control the content that circulates on the Internet and at the same time avoid criticism of censorship practices. The companies that own the networks never admit the shadowban, when pointed out They usually attribute it to some technical error.

“Your freedom of expression and your rights can be compromised by technical criteria,” commented Alexandre López-Borrull, professor of Information and Communication Sciences Studies at the UOC.

The study carried out by the CDT highlights that certain groups or social movements have received more “frequent and harsh” “content moderation” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: for example, users from the black community in the US, from the Black movement Lives Matter and the LGBTIQ+ movement. There have also been complaints since last October about the banning of publications that denounce the genocide committed by the Zionist State against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The complaint made by President Maduro is part of this context, where criticism of social media algorithms especially points out the practice of censorship of certain accounts, groups and even topics or speeches according to political interests.

Against this background, in Datos ÚN We decided to poll the opinion of the audience of Últimas Noticias about banning on social networks. We published a digital survey on our website and social networks and between Tuesday, June 4 and Friday, June 7, 543 people participated. These are the results.

You know and you don't like

Our first question was about knowledge. Do people know how social media algorithms work? Of the participants, 29,8% said they knew how the algorithms worked, while 70,2% said they did not. This means that 3 out of 10 people say they have knowledge about the mechanisms that govern digital platforms.

Is the complaint made by President Maduro shared by the people? Of the participants in our survey, 64,3% said they strongly agreed with the statement that social networks ban for political reasons. Another 16,9% stated that they agreed more or less. This means that 8 out of 10 (81,2%) tend to agree with the claims made by the Government of Venezuela.

Now, it is possible that someone would argue that social media companies have the right to limit or enhance the speech they deem appropriate and if someone does not agree they have the option of refraining from using that space which, after all, is free. We ask our audience if they agree that the corporations that own the networks apply the ban according to their interests.

43,3% said they totally disagreed and 5,9% more or less disagreed. This means that 49,2% of people, practically half, tend to reject this behavior on social networks. On the other hand, 41,4% tend to approve of this practice: 28,7% totally agree and 12,7% more or less agree. The remaining 9,4% stated that they neither agreed nor disagreed.

We have to do something

Although social networks belong to privately owned companies, in practice they configure a kind of digital public space, where large masses of the population participate on a planetary scale and where discourses circulate and meaning is produced, which increasingly impacts reality. . We asked our survey participants whether social media companies should comply with state regulations in each country.

74% stated that they totally agree and another 10,5% said they agree more or less. This means that 84,5%, more than eight out of 10 people, believe that social media corporations should comply with local state regulations.

The data tells us that banning or shadow ban is a practice known and rejected by the majority, who are aware of the need for the powerful corporations that control the digital ecosystem to be subject to regulations that limit, in full light and not in the shadow, the power they exercise over information.

This is what Professor Silvia Martínez, cited in the article mentioned in the introduction of this note, warns:

"It might be thought that, if applied to content generated by bots or fake accounts, this practice could reduce the reach of disinformation campaigns, but in the same way it could lead to making voices that fight against disinformation invisible."

Angel González
I write #ElInformante and #DatosÚN in Últimas Noticias.

Leave a response

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here