It’s as if the world has declared 2024 an election year. The United States, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia are just some of the countries that will hold elections this year.
There is debate about what should happen in these elections: Will voter choices be affected in an environment of digital clutter?
Digital chaos affects our lives and our elections
The first time we saw an example of digital manipulation affecting an election was in the 2016 US election; the incident, registered as: “Cambridge Analytica Facebook Data Scandal”, revealed that the company had illegally obtained the information of 50 million Facebook users and used it in some way. influence the electorate.
The issue here is that Facebook sold user information to the company without their consent, a scandal that became the subject of a lawsuit and led to an apology from Facebook.
Now; countries holding elections have billions of social media users and voters who follow all news and information through these platforms.
Could something similar happen?
Traditional face-to-face political communication is dwindling and relationships with voters are now built through social media and the internet, making it easier to manipulate, direct and influence; social media companies can analyze which news they influence, which emotional responses they give and what Can effectively change users' decisions.
Just because digital platforms are known to influence the products you sell, doesn't mean they can't influence you politically. And now there’s a risk that makes us pay even more attention to this issue: artificial intelligence.
Can artificial intelligence be used to influence elections?
The use of artificial intelligence, which has been likened to a nuclear bomb, to influence people in elections has raised concerns; because using artificial intelligence, it is now easier to detect the voting behavior of voters and have an impact that changes their electoral trends.
Therefore, the scope of work in the digital world is limitless, from creating deepfake videos that imitate leaders to producing fake news. The founders and managers of OpenAI, the company that created ChatGB, one of the world's most powerful artificial intelligence programs, don't know exactly what limits will be placed on the future development of the system.
But some developments justified their concerns. The AI learns to speak like a human by watching videos, conversations and actions, allowing that person to speak with any text you want.
In fact; videos imitating two former U.S. presidents, Obama and Trump, and Ukrainian President Zelensky have been circulating, and efforts have been made to prove them to be lies in recent days. What happens when AI-generated fake news spreads that is indistinguishable from fact?
The digital anatomy of 4.5 billion social media users has been mapped: from what colors they like to what political views they adhere to. All this information is in the hands of social media platforms. Now; campaign companies will buy this data and conduct voter sentiment analysis in countries where elections are held.
Through these analyses; they will be able to easily identify voter profiles, determine which political communication methods they will use to influence them, and this is where the legal and ethical debate begins. Do social media users allow their personal data and contact information to be used for political campaigning?
It also becomes an ethical issue in the sense that; Google, Facebook or AI can solve this problem without anyone's permission and turn it into a political project.
The amount of manipulation, fake news and fictitious images in the digital world is so high that special units are now being created to combat them; for example; Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate has set up a special unit called the “Anti-Manipulation Center”.
The unit deconstructs false, fake and baseless news and images generated by artificial intelligence on a daily basis and warns citizens not to engage with them, their biggest concern these days is fake news about the Israeli-Palestinian war created by Israeli sources .
In my opinion, the center has more work to do in Turkey, which is holding municipal elections in March. Political parties work harder to correct fake news against them rather than clarify their positions; because fake news spreads many times faster than real news.
On social media, people strangely believe all the news they come across and share, and that’s the danger. Artificial Intelligence can; who knows all the personality traits of voters, feed them fictitious news/information easily, and people also like this and easily believe it.
This is a very complex issue and a danger that could affect the world, and we will witness this discussion in the elections scheduled for 2024 in many countries around the world.