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  • Facebooking for Freedom

    Since the rise in the use of new media, authoritarian regimes have been confronted by a wave of opposition. The surge of digital, computerized and networked information as well as communication technologies has facilitated those seeking to shed light on government oppression. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well as countless others have catalyzed protest movements in elections across the globe. From Iran, to Moldova and even local elections in Russia, the public has utilized these resources to shed light on fraud and abuse.

    Autocratic governments are now being successfully countered by those resisting oppression using little more than a cellphone. As Chris Spence, the Chief Technology Officer at the National Democratic Institute explained in last week’s Helsinki Commission briefing, “Twitter Against Tyrants: New Media in Authoritarian Regimes” : “These technologies paired with effective methodologies can help organizations make significant contributions toward advancing the democratic process in authoritarian states.” The use of new media technologies provide oppressed societies with a voice that might not otherwise be granted to them.

    However, it must be highlighted that new media is a tool. Anyone can use it; even those who tyrannize their own people. Evegeny Morozova, Yahoo! Fellow at Georgetown University explains, “I am increasingly concerned with both how well authoritarian government have managed to adapt to the Internet threat and how poorly some digital activists, journalists, and even policy-makers understand the risks of trying to promote democracy via the Internet.” Morozov explains a litany of possible ways that new media can backfire.

    For example, new media will empower all political forces and not just the ones we like. Authoritarian governments have gotten quite adept at controlling cyberspace and they are “eager to build short-term alliances with digital groups that share their goals.” Furthermore, government sponsored cyber attacks exert indirect psychological pressure on civil society, discouraging participation. What many often ignore is that “new media often has adverse unexpected consequences” and it is a tool that can be used to achieve beneficial and detrimental results.

    As Nathan Frietas, adjunct professor at New York University states,

    In many cases, the authoritarian states’ power proves too formidable for new media technology to have a meaningful impact. While we can instantly know about the smallest conflict in any part of the planet, there is often very little that the internet can do to help those in harms way.

    New media in and of itself does not solve oppression. It is the actions taken by those who abhor oppression that affect change, new media only helps reveal the need for action.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Facebooking for Freedom

    1. Leon, Durango, CO says:

      Excellent point. But we can do something, now. This government is a foreign power that is usurping power from the citizens daily. I don't know why our own Defense Department can't see the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, but somewhere there are deep throated government employees being shut up, moved out and forced to do fascist things. These guys can support law suits. The Internet can be used to organize these people, OathKeepers.com or something. We need Lawyers to write Indictments. ACORN is full of crimes that lead to our President. Obama stole his election, he abused Campaign Finance and paid off his base. There are so many crimes it would support RICO Indictments.

    2. Earl Nesmith Sarasot says:

      President Obama credits much of his early success to the use of the Internet early in his primary campaign. It is ironic that now that same tool he used for success is now turning on him. As an entertainer, I was among others in the music industry to recognize that the Internet is a runaway train with no brakes. The "major" labels in the industry have seen the Internet hack away at profits from "hard copy" sales as they can't control it nor contain it. They are starting to wise up and figuring out new ways to take advantage of it, as a new approach must be taken for their survival.

      It is now print and broadcast media that is feeling the pinch of Internet actions. They too must reinvent themselves and their ways of doing business. Where they are limited to their conventional means of gathering and disseminating information, the "runaway train" and its "passengers" are way ahead of them as though they were reading "yesterday's news".

      We used to wrap up dead fish in "yesterday's news". Unless the media changes its methods and ways, they will "sleep with those fishes" and become the "I remember when.." my children will tell their grand children.

      Just a thought…

    3. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      When the UN takes over the internet these social pages will be shut down. Guess who is in the process of allowing the internet to be taken over by the UN, the dems and obama. Once that happens they will controll all we say and do. Do we want to see this happen????? I do not think so.

    4. GLENN TEXAS says:

      FREEDOM THIS IS IT , YOU HAD BETTER GET UP AND TAKE CARE OF IT . GIVE THE BLESSING FOR THE ONE WHO GAVE IT TO US. (ALSO ALWAYS SUPPORT THE TROOPS)

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