The Wisconsin Union Directorate screened “Digital Disconnect” in the Marquee Cinema Wednesday night as part of the Social Cinema series in collaboration with the Havens Center for Social Justice.
“Digital Disconnect,” presented by Robert McChesney, is a documentary film directed by Jeremy Earp. The film is composed of images and videos edited from real TV programs, news reports and factual data discussing the relationship between the internet and democracy.
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The film showed how the internet transformed from a government project in the late 1960s to a completely commercialized industry and how the democratic promise of the internet had been undermined by the growth of company monopolies and rampant capitalism.
The film also highlighted data showing how three tech giants — Google, Apple and Facebook — hold 80 percent of total referral traffic, generating large profits in the process. The film explained how monopolies cooperate with national security to develop surveillance programs and sell personal information to advertisers.
Through showing examples of how these companies use complex algorithms to calculate and remember preferences to recommend related content and advertisement to users, Earp shrunk the distance between the audience and the topic so they can grasp the negative implications of what the internet may pose on democracy.
Along the way, the film showed how the internet undermines democracy through the presence of fake news and filter bubbles — impacting journalism in the process. Meanwhile, social media platforms, such as Facebook, limits diverse voices through filter bubbles, or spaces where users encounter only posts with similar views to their own.
After the film finished, McChesney held a Q&A section which dug deeper into how this current situation affects the journalism industry, noting how these filter bubbles have lessened the freedom of the media.
The Social Cinema continues Wednesday with “Crime + Punishment.”