How Does Internet Influence Democracy?
How does Internet Influence democracy? Well, the recent “hype” about Facebook’s role in influencing our elections has folks such as Edward Convealed bent on finding every way to use Facebook to serve their will. This is obviously a horrible thing to do and I’ve written about it at length elsewhere. However, let’s take this topic a little deeper…
If we look at countries that have a strong internet culture, such as India for example, we can see a lot of political abuse. Consider the issue of child pornography. Many people in these countries feel that they have a right to make those images available to anyone who desires them. This includes not only children but random strangers looking for a thrill. The government of India has tried to do something about this, but it is a matter of massive political will.
Many governments feel that the Internet is a way of spreading propaganda. This is a serious problem, one that needs to be addressed. In China, for example, the government blocks access to popular sites, including social networks like Facebook and MySpace. Is China trying to control its own population via the use of the internet? It seems that way…
Internet and democracy
However, when people discuss Internet and democracy, one gets the impression that somehow China is not a democracy. Rather, they are doing just what they can to exercise more control over the Internet. This is one of the reasons why I am so critical of U.S. policy on Internet freedom. Why do they have such a hard line against Internet freedom? Is it because China is one of their major trading partners and China wants to exert its will over everyone else?
Let’s put it another way. China is one of the fastest growing sources of oil. China has a single economy, not one dominated by free trade and capitalism as most American polices. It is surprising that the Chinese government sees fit to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries – including the United States. That is unfortunate; but then again, is China one of the major powers in the world, and why would it want to mess with other powerful nations?
So, now we know how Internet and democracy are interwoven. One can see the Internet becoming a major force in political and social change. The question remains…How does China use the Internet to exercise its power over societies?
It appears that China uses the Internet as a way to manipulate other nations, and it also uses the media to shape public opinion. For instance, China’s Global Internet Project seems to be largely driven by censorship and manipulation. Is China using its “state-run” media to promote its agenda and drown out other views? If so, this raises questions about how other nations can use the internet to affect their societies. Is China trying to eliminate other nations from the internet, or is it just trying to gain control over it?
There is no question that China has a tremendous growth to make. It is already the fastest-growing market in the world. However, in order for China to realize its full potential, it needs to exercise free-market capitalism, and not use its state-run media to manipulate the masses. In other words, how do Internet and democracy affect each other?
How does Internet democracy help China?
How does Internet democracy help China? The answer is simple: Internet users are becoming increasingly aware of their rights online, and they are using blogs, social networking sites, and Internet tools to support their cause. For instance, Chinese citizens are using Weibo, a popular microblogging site to get news and information. Meanwhile, China’s state-run media is increasingly blocking access to some topics or even censoring them completely. If the Chinese government decides to implement Internet censorship, Chinese Internet users will effectively have a free hand in deciding how Internet usage affects the political system.
On the other hand, Internet freedom causes other problems for other countries. Internet freedom allows individuals and governments to criticize each other, but it also allows for mass surveillance of citizens. Internet use is a major hindrance to free markets, which in turn will lead to increased poverty and hunger. Ultimately, Internet use is a slippery slope that leads to complete destruction of the existing society. As China is finding out, when Internet freedom is lost Internet access is almost guaranteed.
How does Internet democracy help the United States? Internet freedom is a huge asset for the United States. Without the Internet, we would quickly become obsolete. We currently have an advantage over everyone else due to our ability to reach customers all over the world through our web site. In addition, our educational system and our health care system would be severely hindered without the Internet. Therefore, Internet users should support Internet freedom in their country and promote freedom of speech and commerce on the Internet.