Social media is a powerful tool. It can help push a country’s agenda, propel propaganda to the masses, and even hide information from the people. A powerful tool that can be used for good and evil is now being partly controlled by governments and corporations.
Censorship may not seem apparent from the outside, but when you start digging into the facts, it’s scary just how much information is censored from the world.
We’re not just talking about Facebook scandals or trying to get YouTube videos unblocked because of strict censorship.
Censorship is a major problem in other countries, too.
Russia’s VKontakte, the country’s largest social network, was founded by 33-year-old Pavel Durov. His revenue-generating website has 460 million users, and it has a largely active user base. So, what’s the problem?
Durov was “fired.” Yes, he was fired from the company he started and grew. But then when you look deeper, you can’t ignore his comments about Russia’s censorship climate. He is quoted as saying “the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment.” He announced plans to create a new social network and even moved to another country to get by the censorship that Russia imposes.
That was in 2014, and since then, he has lived in what many call a “self-imposed exile.”
“Filtering” is the word that Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites claim that they do. But this word can easily be interchanged with “censoring.” This wouldn’t be much of a problem if people missed a post about what their friend ate for dinner or the latest gossip around town.
Americans, for example, get at least part of their news from social media. A recent study found nearly 66% of Americans rely on social media for their news. All of the content on social media can be filtered, allowing for social media companies to have great control over the news people see.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn recalls a time when Twitter blocked her video promoting her Senate campaign.
You may or may not agree with a political campaign, but when such a large part of the population relies on social media for their content, it’s scary to think how the wrong “filter” can sway a population.
Pakistan’s media has decided to start self-censoring themselves out of fear of repercussions for saying the wrong thing. Nicaragua’s journalists are facing the complete opposite problem. Journalists in the country are being censored by the media, so they’re taking to social media to bypass this censorship.
Closer to home, there have been rumors that Israeli soldiers are targeting journalists that cover certain Palestine stories. But these rumors suggest a fatal ending for these journalists rather than mere censoring on social media.
“Incitement” is being used by many governments that convict social media users for their posts.
Social media is great for keeping up with friends and family, and while it can do a lot of good, there will always be the question of just how much is being censored. Perhaps we’re all being pushed to a government’s agenda, and we might not even know it.