Tech Connection: Censorship of social media a slippery slope

By James Crowell
February 1, 2012

As humanity marches headlong into the 21st century, our society is evolving in a way that is stretching the boundaries of what is considered free speech.

Despite our societal differences, humanity is becoming more interconnected.  With the rapid advent of the Internet, it is becoming increasingly difficult for more conservative nations to keep pace with technology.  The People’s Republic of China, for instance, has a very reclusive government that has built a large (and vastly censored) mass media, complete with state-run Internet sites and a 24/7 news-cycle that spews propaganda, ensuring that nobody inside China knows of the human rights violations that occur on a regular basis.

China began censoring the Internet from its citizens in November 2003 with what critics call the “Great Firewall of China.”  By preventing IP addresses from being accessed, China has affected the delicate cultural balance of the whole of Asia.

Last week, Twitter stated in an official blog post that specific messages may be blocked upon request in countries where they were deemed to violate local laws. On the heels of the Stop Online Privacy Act being tabled in Congress, Twitter has opened an enormous can of worms.  Besides violating the rights of its citizens, countries like China, Iran and others are withholding the free flow of knowledge from their citizens.

If the United States Congress were to enact SOPA or any other anti-piracy legislation, the repressive policies of China and Iran may have come to America.  However, due to intense protests from people across the country, SOPA was shelved.  Yet, there will be more anti-piracy bills if lobbyists mainstream Hollywood has any say.

It is undeniable that humanity must deal with censorship.  Free speech is essential to an open, free and just society.  Without the right to protest and address the wrongs in a given region, society itself would cease to operate properly.

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James Crowell

Senior com major at Cabrini College. Technical Director for LOQation. On-Air personality on WYBF-FM. Past News editor for The Loquitur, 2011-12. Passion for videography, tech news & quantum mechanics. Follow me @JamesCrowellJr

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