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Communications of the ACM

The digital society

Why the Internet Is Bad For Democracy

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The Internet is not simply a set of interconnected links and protocols---it is also a construct of the imagination, an inkblot test into which everyone projects their desires, fears, and fantasies. Some see enlightenment and education. Others see pornography and gambling. Some see sharing and collaboration. Others see spam and viruses. Yet when it comes to the impact on the democratic process, the answer seems unanimous. The Internet is good for democracy. It creates digital citizens active in the teledemocracy [1] of the Electronic Republic [2] in the e-nation [3]. But this bubble, too, needs to be pricked.

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