In the twenty-first century, we have experienced rapid changes and vast developments in most aspects of our lives. One of the main evolutions that changed the human’s way of living is the technological development. In the 1980s, the British computer scientist, Tim Berners Lee, invented the World Wide Web in Switzerland, which linked hypertext documents into the information system, accessible from any node on the network (Cohen-Almagor, 2011).
By the end of the 1990s, the internet has had a boom revolutionary effect over our lives such as, education, culture, technology, and commerce which has been taking a huge amount of time in our human daily life.
The rise of near-instant communication presented by electronic mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls, two-way interactive video calls, and the World Wide Web with its discussion forums, e-learning, online shopping sites blogs, and of course social media including the most famous and most used panels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat made living without it nowadays, seems to be impossible to imagine.
Nowadays almost everything has transformed into digital. For instance, banking, ministries, storing sensitive data, learning, and even governmental services which adopted what’s so-called by e-government have transformed to digital technology. Thus, many researchers have been analyzing the effect of social media on our societies and individuals.
A study that was done by the American Press Institute focused on the effect of social media in shaping the public political opinion and the political polarization of the new generations. In order to do so, special techniques were followed with the steps of broadcasting, communicating with the public, and the way the message reached them.
The psychology of people has been taken into consideration and used throughout different online personality studies over the internet. The big 5 personality theory which was developed by Ernest Tupes, Raymond Christal and Warren Norman has been used in many online tests, networking agencies, and political campaign firms allowing them to have big data of the public mass.
By doing so, it made the manipulation of public data and the privacy become so vulnerable, and profitable for private businesses and countries. Since the big data privacy is a recent issue and problem, there are very limited studies that considered it, in a matter of, people think of whether they should accept the digitalized era we live in and face a fact of reality where privacy is no longer part of it.
Another opposite opinion takes into account that, privacy is a human right and must be respected and protected from the use of both governments and private sectors, which the result might end up to even give up on all these technologies if needed. Politics have existed thousands of years ago; it arranged how a country runs and set rules that helped to organize a society, it helped civilizing people throughout the years.
It had been reshaped many times since its existence in order to adapt to the changes that are happening in the world. The major change is happening recently, in the digital age. Technology had a significant impact on politics, it had reshaped how politics as we know it. Manipulating people’s decisions and political views. Politics and governance are very much related in many aspects. People choose their leader through an election in which will makes the leader involved in governance.
Governance aim is to serve the people and achieve democracy. Governance differs from country to another; many countries are suffering from corruption, electoral manipulating and lake of fundamental human rights. One of the main aspects of good governance is transparency, yet in most countries, we find leaders and governments try to deceive and manipulate their own people in order to achieve their goals whether they are national or international.
Thus, the Internet and social media platforms assisted them to accomplish their goals. Social media is now one of the key elements that contribute to the transformation of politics. Now, we find candidates post their messages, views, polls, and propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. Although most presidents would have a team of people who oversee the president’s social accounts, Trump is the one tweeting from his account.
Delivering random constant messages can damage the president’s image and credibility in front of national citizens and foreign citizens and countries. Despite the benefits of social media to people and politicians, we find that it is a hot spot for spreading fake news, rumors, and conspiracies to deceive people since online news is available 24/7 in a click of a button on Facebook and Twitter.
Also, since users have been sharing personal information, opinions, and preferences on social media, some politicians were able to get these data in order to target their audience and manipulate them. For example, the influence of Trump during the 2016 US election campaign with the American citizens perfectly illustrates the alarming effect of disinformation and manipulation on democracies.
Also, social media can be an asset if used the right way yet sharing too much information can be very dangerous and harm the diplomat or president. As seen in C.A. scandal any person can access sensitive data, such as politicians and governments, thus people should be aware of what they share on internet platforms.
Moreover, social media’s algorithm’s made people more politically polarized as they tend to view only the news and stories that reflect their opinions and views. Also, users tend to surround themselves with friends that are like-minded. As a result, we will have more extremists in our societies who are not willing to hear other opinions or engage in civilized discussions.
However, internet technology has several side effects. Digital diplomacy provides an environment for manipulation, fake news, propaganda, and cyber warfare because of the lack of security and direct communication as seen in the 2016 US elections by President Donald Trump, Ukraine and Russia, and many other countries.
The superpower countries are working on securing their national state, mainly the US, Israel, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. However, cyberwar is not only limited to developed countries or prosperous economies; any country even small and undeveloped ones might get attacked or be a threat.
Furthermore, we have witnessed in the past few years more cyber-attacks committed by criminals and terrorists as well as countries committing cyber-attacks and cyber-warfare which may escalate things in the future to massive attacks that will result in more serious and catastrophic consequences, such as destruction of infrastructures, military, economy and international relations.
Technology is continuously changing; thus, it is hard to predict what will come up tomorrow. And due to the technological vulnerabilities, it should be considered as an asset to any individual or country rather than a necessity. Although modern technologies and internet have reformed the traditional means of diplomacy, the main purpose of diplomacy is still the same.
While many people believe that digital diplomacy would replace multilateral diplomacy, I think that reading facial expressions and body language of other people make up a huge part of communication where people can use in order to avoid being deceived and manipulated.
Therefore, the need for public diplomacy is still necessary, where countries must have embassies and diplomats in different parts of the world to gather information, fix relations and deliver their country’s messages. Diplomacy remains to be an important part of a country to gain more power within the international system.
People’s lives have changed in a short time since the internet became available everywhere. If people think of how they have transmitted almost everything about them, such as photos, emails, passwords, thoughts, locations, bank accounts and private conversations to their phones, Dropbox and different platforms on the internet, they would know that they have allowed themselves to be an easy target.
Thus, the need for cybersecurity is not some kind of added value or privilege, it is a necessity to protect themselves, industries, governments, and security. Because of the lack of security on the internet, countries should not depend on foreign countries for technological systems.