The (Non-)Democracy Machine – How the Tech Giants Gave in to Kremlin

There used to be a time when the internet was meant to bring democracy to the oppressed. Swedish foreign aid authority SIDA co-funded anonymization technology. The Arab spring was called a “social media revolution”. Tech companies played the democracy card when facing criticism.

Much has changed since those days. Secret police figured out how to track down dissenters using digital technology. Facebook spawned a genocide in Myanmar. The spread of conspiracy theories led to the Capitol Hill riots in Washington DC.

And in the recent elections to the Russian duma, the opposition’s “Smart Voting”-app was removed by Apple and Google. The idea behind smart voting was to focus opposition votes on the non-Kremlin candidates most likely to make the five-percent threshold. Apparently Big Tech found it more important to make friends with the people in power than to support dissenters. Is this the end of the myth that internet brings democracy?