He was an innovation advisor to Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State under the Obama presidency, and she wrote an amazingly dense book on technology called Our futureHe ran for Democrats for Governor of Maryland in 2018. Alec Ross, 49, who has spent some of his time in our country, is one of the few American politicians who moves with equal ease in both Washington and Washington circles. Silicon Valley. He is now back in Italy where he is studying at a business school in Bologna, waiting for him to understand what he wants to do “when he grows up”. From here, follow the development of the situation in the United States.
What was your reaction to the news of the Twitter shutdown of Donald Trump’s account for good?
“I was surprised that social media has done nothing for many years, and it hasn’t moved. They went directly from passivity to blocking. ”
What should Jack Dorsey who heads Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg do? And when should they do that?
“I know both of them personally. It was Jack Dorsey himself who created my Twitter account while we sat side by side on a sidewalk in Mexico City in October 2009. They are two very smart but not wise people: undeveloped engineers when it comes to it. Politics and society. They should have been.” To hold a dialogue with Donald Trump and all other politicians who are similar to him, and to set very clear rules for years that, had they been violated, would have led to certain consequences. ”
But now they will have to do it and not only in the United States.
A clear and consistent rule system is needed. “But I doubt that they can design it in Silicon Valley, they do not have the ability.”
There are those who argue that expelling Trump from Twitter and taking him out of other platforms was a political move.
Of course, they can do that because Trump lost the election with only a few weeks left. If he had won the revolution and was still stirring it up, I don’t think the web giants would have acted the same way. However, it is also the result of the pressure that these companies receive from their employees and from some of their users in the United States. ”
There has been a debate about the role of social networks in politics, and certainly not today. They perform a public service function in the hands of the private sector. But they are not newspapers. How should they treat and who should define what they are?
“We have three main issues that must be addressed: public safety, how to defend vulnerable societies, and democratic integration on the web; the issue of privacy, especially both personal data tracking systems and so-called echo chambers, and online create isolated groups that increase polarization; and finally respect for free competition and the fairness of the digital marketplace. These are all issues that require government intervention. “
What was the real impact of online politics and propaganda on politics over the past four years? What is different from when you worked with Hillary Clinton?
“Social networks, as well as the radio and television of the new American far right, have created an alternate version of reality. When I worked for Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, disinformation was a common phenomenon, but nothing like the levels we are at today. Now it is a parallel universe. ”
Some senior Facebook executives, Mike Schrooper, for example, who is in charge of all technologies, argue that polarization has always been there. Especially in the United States.
“Mike Schroepfer knows technology like few others, but he knows nothing about geopolitics. The United States is more polarized today than it was during the Civil War, and Mike’s company bears a huge responsibility. Twitter effectively gave birth to the politician Donald Trump, and now Twitter itself has silenced him. So unfortunate that they acted on the damage that was done now. Trump knew exactly what he had been doing in recent years while using social networks and he knew the consequences much better than the young engineers of the tech giants. That says it all already. “
What do you hope will happen now?
“I expect the boards of these companies to bring about real change. There are clearly new personalities that must be hired and others that must be separated. The first thing that needs to happen is a deep reform of the hierarchy of these multinationals. Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has a lot of power and has been “He has already shown that he cannot handle it. I spoke to him on the far right. It is clear that he does not understand the consequences of his program on politics and society.”
The regulation of large web platforms has been launched in both the United States and Europe, albeit in different ways and tones. Do you think that the politicians invited to write these laws are ready?
“No, and that’s the other big problem: There is more knowledge of technology in my children’s schools than most governments. It is imperative that European and American policies increase the level of understanding on these issues.”
You ran for the Democrats for governor. What is your personal experience using social networks?
“I’ve tried to use it in a fun and passionate way, but it’s things that don’t work very often. Social media has become a very grumpy and dark place where, as we know, hate works well. ”
Will he try to enter politics again?
“Perhaps, but there are many other ways to change the world. Politics is just one among many.”