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Who Controls the Internet-China Internet CensorshipSince its discovery, the internet has progressed in leaps and bounds. Every corner of the Earth can now reap the benefits of this life changing phenomenon. Various issues have emerged with the progress of the internet one of them being internet control. Like any other global communication technology, the use of the internet in some regions has been faced with government and geography coercion. Internet control looks at various aspects such as the content that is being distributed over the internet to the human interaction on who is using the internet. Countries such as China and Australia have strict rules and regulations on internet control. In Australia, the government is allowed by the constitution to regulate telegraphic, postal, telephonic and other services which include the internet.
The document reviews internet control in one of the strict countries, China. The document will highlight the various ways through which China government achieves or carry’s out Internet control. The results or implications of the same will also be reviewed.
The Chinese government has for a long time kept a tight rein of both the existing traditional and emerging media so as to avoid any subversion of its authority. The tactics of enhancing this control is through strict media control applying monitoring systems and firewalls, the jailing of dissident journalists, activists and bloggers. Other restrictions are the shuttering of websites and or publications. There have been constant battles between the citizens and corporates alike over the control of the internet in China (Jiang 2012, pp178).
The official media policy in China is such that China’s constitution affords citizens the right to freedom of speech and that of the press. The opacity however of China’s media rules allows the responsible authorities to carry out crackdowns on any information that expose state secrets and in the process endangering the country. In 2010, the government of China revised existing clause of the Law on Guarding State Secrets which was meant to tighten the control over flow of information. The amendment requires that telecommunication companies and internet companies cooperate with the Chinese authorities during investigations in the leaking of state secrets. The definition of the state secrets however has not been well defined thus in the process facilitates the censorship of any data that the tasked authorities deem to be harmful to both economic and political interests. The Chinese internet companies have to sign Public Pledge about the Self- Regulation Professional Ethics for China’s Internet Industry which are strict rules on Internet control (Zuchora-walske 2010, pp89).
As a result of the internet censorship in China, the country remains in the bottom of the list in the worldwide index of press freedom. Chinese media is not free as reporters face jail terms and harassment for violating any of the laid out rules. The journalists are further pressured into self- censorship.For some of the websites, if they are deemed potentially dangerous such as the Wikipedia, they are routinely blocked during times of controversy such as during the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre in June 4. The government also blocks issues that could cause social unrest incitement such as the ethnic strife and official corruption. An example is the blocking of New York Times and Bloomberg blacking in 2012 after they ran reports on private wealth of Xi Jinping and Wen Jiabao (Li 2007, pp180).
The censorship groups are an essential part of Chinese internet control. The groups are made up of more than a dozen government bodies that enforce and review laws concerning information flow in and out of China. The most powerful of these groups is Communist Party Central propaganda Department (CDP) that coordinates with the State’s Administration in Radio, Film and Television(SARFT) and the General Administration Press Publication (GAPP). The monitoring body ensures that content promotes the doctrines of the party. The State’s Council Information Office has recently also taken the forefront in Internet monitoring (Diamond & Plattner 12, pp54).
During the times of political transitions, the government tightens censorship. An example is the period prior to the power handover of the Eighteenth National Congress in 2012, the government issued rules that required the Internet users to give real names to service providers at the same time assigning the Internet companies great responsibilities to report forbidden posts to authorities (Zuchora-walske 2010, pp143).
Control over the Internet by the Chinese government is carried out in various ways when it comes to the censoring of the internet. Technical methods such as bandwidth throttling, wholesale blockage of the access to websites and filtering of keywords are some of the tactics used. There is also the use of other methods that induce journalists in censoring themselves. The tactics in this case include demotions and dismissals, fines, arrests, libel lawsuits and the closing of new outlets. Activists who go beyond the government boundaries have been imprisoned. For the foreign internet firms, any of their incoming data is filtered through one of computer centers in Guangzhou, Beijing or Shanghai. Key words are used to alert the authority on provocative content (Diamond & Plattner 2012, pp92).
Internet censorship will remain one of the most controversial issues in China. The end of this long battle between the government and the public on media freedom is not near as the Chinese government continues to choke the same. Though a critical tool in development, hindrance in ensuring that there is free movement of data over the internet in China will remain to sabotage development in this sector.
DIAMOND, L. J., & PLATTNER, M. F. (2012). Liberation technology: social media and the struggle for democracy. Baltimore, Md, Johns Hopkins University Press.DIAMOND, L., NATHAN, A. J., & PLATTNER, M. F. (2013). Will China democratize?Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Univ. Pr.
JIANG, Y. (2012). Cyber-nationalism in China challenging Western media portrayals of internet censorship in China. Adelaide, University of Adelaide Press. http://www.doabooks.org/doab?func=browse&language=&queryField=Cyber-nationalism+in+China&x=0&y=0.
LI, H.-C. (2007). Digital democracy in China evaluating Chinese citizens’ fight for rights via the Internet. Thesis (M.A.)–State University of New York at Buffalo, 2007. http://libweb.cityu.edu.hk/cgi-bin/er/db/ddcdiss.pl?1449909.
ZUCHORA-WALSKE, C. (2010). Internet censorship protecting citizens or trampling freedom? Minneapolis, Twenty-First Century Books. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=311913.
New Media, Sociality, Policy, and Ethics: Young People and Sexting
As the use of phones and communication devices intensify, a current digital technology issue has emerged and captured the public limelight-Sexting. Sexting is the sending and receiving of sexually explicit text messages or images through the internet or mobile phones. The behavior has become a concern as it involves the young people. In Australia, the issue of Sexting among the young is widespread. A National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health in 2013 found out that more that 43% of the students between ages 10-12 had sent sexually explicit texts and more than half had received one.
A short video by the title “Megan’s Story” shown around Australia aims to warn young people on the dangers of Sexting. The story is a campaign against Sexting whose analysis helps in the understanding of the sexting practice. By using the film, questions arise on the current realities of sexting in young people. The document will review the issue of Sexting and its relation with new media technologies, policy, ethics and sociality. The document will do so by analyzing the important issuesaround sexting in terms of gendered discourses, cultural practices, social pressures andlegal implications and how each can be used in mitigating sexting.
Considering cultural practices, the use of new media has brought with it broader social concerns. One of them is the first reaction of the society on Sexting-moral panic. Currently, the society is engulfed in modern techno-panic worries about the morality of the young especially girls and the effects of technology on how people think, grow and behave. With no foreseeable future in sexting, it is imperative that alternative ways be evaluated on how to overcome the panic tackling sexting in the process. One of them is by avoiding the negative focus on the issue. As a policy, this may work in reducing the cases of sexting. For the older generation, sexting should not be taken as a negative thing but as a consistent, credible and grounded reality of teenager’s social experience. Accepting this fact will go a long way in understanding the problem and subsequent solutions (Megan 2010).
The issue of gender discourses emerges with sexting. Both genders, in this case boys and girls, can be said to be equally balanced when it comes to sexting because both engage in sending and receiving of sexts. However, a deeper analysis reveals the differences. Boys have been shown to be more active in sharing sexts especially those they have received. This is so as boys are known to be subjected to peer pressure thus their tendency to forward sexts. In most times, girls on their part are portrayed as innocent and thus are required to be responsible of any action that may lead to losing their innocence. These forms of gender stereotypes are common even in anti-sexting campaigns. A huge improvement is needed in tackling sexting as stereotyping is a poor way of handling the problem thus should be avoided at all times. The stereotyping does more harm than good. As a result of the media playing a central role in communicating and reinforcing gender issues, the same channel should be used where media literacy should be part of the programs aimed at mitigating sexting risks (Boyd 2016, pp87).
Schools, governments and other groups have reacted differently to sexting one of them being legally. Sexting has serious legal implications in various countries where, for example, in Australia, it is illegal to send and receive an image of a young person as it is deemed as child pornography. For those who are caught texting, in this case the young people, there is the risk of being charged either as victims or perpetrators. Studies reveal that young people who know they may face legal consequences because of sexting are the ones who are more likely to engage in it. The implications are that there should be a review of the laws if sexting was to be eliminated or controlled among young people (Henry & Powell 2014, pp102).
Ethically, sexting should be publicized and especially to the teenagers as an abnormal activity. In most times, the youth will consider the sending of sexts to be common. This can be carried out with the aim of reducing the act where the youth are made aware that both receiving and sending of sexual related texts is uncommon thus should be avoided. The young should be taught that Sexting comes with many implications one being the correlation between it and sexual activity in this case risky sexual behavior. Though a minority of adolescents engages in sexting, the same minority is the one who engage in various risky sexual behaviors. Certain groups such as the LGBT have been shown to be prone to engaging in risky sexual behaviors (Butler 2014, pp157).
The interaction of the new media has had a profound effect on sociality where some ethical issues have been forgotten or ceased to be appreciated for what they represented. The culture around the forwarding of sexts should be communicated for what it is to the youth; an ethical issue. For most of the youth, they do not consider this as either a moral or ethical issue. With the current rate of consumption of material from new media especially the social networks, there is the elimination of emotions aspect. There are no feelings of empathy towards other individuals. New media does not give people the chance to rationalize behavior through minimizing or denying harm done. Instead, it dehumanizes the victims. A great challenge remains in identifying the youth who forward sexts and in doing so help them to view it as a moral issue (Gabriel 2013, pp135).
New media led to the emergence of Sexting. The youth are the most affected group as a high percentage engages in it. With sexting emerges legal, cultural, and social and gender issues. Failure to confront these issues will see the continuation of sexting thus mechanisms have to be designed around the same to mitigate the effect. The influence of new media and what it means to the youth and sexting needs to be thoroughly analyzed so as to come up with proper mitigation procedures.
BOYD, D. (2015). It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens. [S.l.], Yale University Press.
BUTLER, J. (2014). Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. [S.l.], Routledge.
GABRIEL, F. (2013). Deconstructing youth: youth discourses at the limits of sense. http://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1588812.
HENRY, N., & POWELL, A. (2014). Preventing sexual violence: interdisciplinary approaches to overcoming a rape culture. http://www.palgraveconnect.com/doifinder/10.1057/9781137356192.
Megan’s Story’, 2010- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG6-LbdSj5s
Social Media and Sociality
With the advancement in technology, in this case communication over the internet, the aspect of social media has emerged. Social media is the interaction that goes on among people where they create, exchange, share information, pictures, videos and ideas in the virtual networks and communities. Social media has also been defined as a group of over the internet applications which are built on ideology and technology foundations of Web 2.0 and thus allow the exchange and creation of user- generated content. Though virtual, social media has come to be taken up as one of the new dimensions in sociality. Sociality is the tendency of groups and individuals to form communities and develop social links. Though depending on web-based and mobile technologies, social media has been able to create extremely interactive platforms where communities and individuals alike get to share, discuss and co-create the user generated content. With the use of social media, there has been the introduction of pervasive and substantial changes in the way communication between communities, organizations and individuals takes place.
With this in mind, the document reviews the various aspects in contemporary sociality introduced by social media. The document relates the various sociology theories and how they can be applied in the investigation of social media and its relation with sociality.
In the various channels currently available for carrying out social media related activities such as facebook, twitter and MySpace, people are forced to make decisions of how they present themselves online. Whether it is the simple act of posting a photograph, sharing age, sex, income, sexual orientation and or occupation, the perceive implications. There are some who will keep their space private or open it up to the public over the internet. Sociological theories help in the analysis of how people present themselves to others in this new society (Palfrey & Gasser 2008, pp134).
One of the theories is the functionalist perspective that focuses on how parts of the society work in unexpected and expected ways in order to maintain the existing social orders. The use of the social networks sites as the platform to present oneself to others in the society needs analysis. One of the functions achieved through the use of social media is that social networks have facilitated the connections between friends, families and other parties. Social networks have been used to discuss common topics such as hobbies and interests. The people in the society have also been able to establish and maintain contacts with a huge number of people which they would not have previously (Curran et al. 2012, pp156).
Other than the functionalist perspective of social networks, there is the conflict perspective where there is the need to identifies both the advantaged and disadvantaged groups when it comes to the use of social networks. The advantaged groups protect and promote their own interests. The question of who controls the websites emerge. Also the one on who benefits from the arrangement and to whose expense. For some theorists, the advantage group includes the owners of social networking sites, the potential employers, advertisers and those who are interested in selling products. This brings the issue of social media and capitalism. Social networks have been identified to be operated by corporations. There is the use of business model which gives free access to users with the aim of accumulating profit by selling the user of the social media sites as commodity to advertising clients. Social business has come to be identified as an emerging buzz. Social interaction has come to be appreciated as being fundamental to business(Fuchs 2014, pp178).
One of the theories that show how the interaction on social media takes place both offline and online creating business is social capital by Bourdieu. Bourdieu shows that social networks can be used and are a source of wealth. With social networks, as per Bourdieu, the rich will get richer (Bourdieu 2000, pp123). Through the use of social media, the rich people get to know other people who can make them more money or help to keep the money they have acquired. There emerges both strong ties and weak ties in social media both of which are beneficial. According to sociologist Mark Granovetter, the weak ties are beneficial in that through the acquaintances , people get jobs. The strong ties on the other hand are less beneficial in that with family and friends, one gets enriched spiritually but there are no emergent job opportunities (Curran et al. 2012, pp164).
The symbolic interactive perspective is also another sociology theory that can be used in explaining the relation between social media and sociality. Symbolic interactionists study the way social interaction takes place and focuses on symbols, self-awarensess and negotiated order. With this theory, there is evidence of how social networks serve the purpose of a mirror where the users are given the chance to be noticed by the others and in turn receive feedback. This theory is supported by dramaturgical theory by Goffman.For Goffman, there is the need to understand social interaction as the theatre. Goffman believes that social actors play the role when they interact. The social actors in this case are the social media users. There are scripts, set, wardrobe, make-up and cast. In case there is a slip of the script, embarrassment follows. This is the negative side of social media. The social networks force people to play multiple roles all at the same time. The social media allows audience segregation that lets people to select the role to play (Goffman 1999, pp98).
The emergence of new media in this case social media has brought with it a new way of forming social relations. By using the web, people have been able to create societies. Various theories can be used to show the operation of these new contemporary societies. Sociality in these new societies takes a different form. The way people relate is different from how they do in conventional societies.
BOURDIEU, P., & NICE, R. (2000). Distinction: a social critique of the judgement of taste. Cambridge (Mass.), Harvard University Press.
CURRAN, J., FENTON, N., & FREEDMAN, D. (2012). Misunderstanding the Internet. London, Routledge.
FUCHS, C. (2014). Social media: a critical introduction.
GOFFMAN, E. (1999). Presentation of self in everyday life. [S.l.], Peter Smith Pub, Inc.
PALFREY, J. G., & GASSER, U. (2008). Born digital understanding the first generation of digital natives. New York, Basic Books. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10392430.