Social media as democratic spaces
A Democratic Public Space, can be defined as an ideal for all public space, is a place that is publicly owned, universally accessible, both physically and in perception; allows for a diversity of voices and users in all stages of design and occupancy; allows for flexibility of use; is freely used by all individuals and encourages freedom of speech and expression. (sohbati & Weinstock, 2017)
I would like to look at two types of censorship firstly censorship of people on social media platforms by social media platforms in terms of what can be said , what is acceptable and on what grounds and the second censorship I would like to talk about Is that of social media under active censorship by the government ( for example in china which will be my prime example ).
Social media are websites and applications that enable users to create and share content with the goal of social networking. With the development of social media and the recent use of social media as platforms for education and activism it has turned into a political tool. With activism on the rise politicians and powerful societal influencers have also taken advantage of social Media Furthering the presence of Censorship , Propaganda , Fake news , racism and incitement to violence.
Social media does fit the description of a democratic space , it is a free for all accessible to all publicly owned spaced that allows for diverse groups of voices , users and individuals , and encourages freedom of speech. However with this new political nature of social media things like censorship , fake news , propaganda, racism and incitement to violence have become part and parcel with social media making this less of a democratic space and in some places not a democratic space at all. This paper will look at two types of censorship on social media and how they contribute to making social media less of a democratic space.
The American Civil liberties union define censorship as the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others.(ACLU ) They also tell us that Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional. A social media platform that actively censors peoples words on social media is Twitter they claim that their acts of censorship are for protection of its users() what what I have noticed as an avid twitter user is that in terms of who is being censored is subjective, I an average unverified twitter user is more likely to get censored than a verified influencer on the site for basically sharing the same thoughts. Twitter has multiple examples and specific offensive that would bring about the consequence of censorship (The twitter rules).
Censorship in the second sense in which social media which is supposed to be free of influence and a platform to act and perform ones wishes individually and without interference that is unwelcome. In China social media is not treated as intended as there is active censorship going on in the country by its government , This defeats the idea of social media as a democratic space as if it was freedom of speech would be allowed as a frequent practice, but due to the heavy policing and censorship by teh government messages are constantly being restricted by the government (Bamman , 2012 ) The Bamman article tell us that programs such as MacKinnon (2011) and the OpenNet Initiative (2009) provide a thorough overview of the state of Internet filtering in China, along with current tactics in use to sway public discourse online, including cyberattacks, stricter rules for domain name registration, localized disconnection (e.g., Xinjiang in July 2009), surveillance, and astroturfing (Bandurski, 2008). This basically means that the Chinese government filtered the information the the public had access to as well as restricted basic things like website names to hone In on the hold the media had over the people this enables them to watch the people as well as censor how much information got to them and what kind and they also had the power to disconnect users as they saw fit.( Bamman, 2012) This type of censorship is against human rights but as it is Neil perpetrated by the government the Chinese people have no choice but to Live under it
Social media in short is less of a democratic space than is said to be it is constantly being used to censor people and encroach on their rights to freedom of speech though the act of censorship is illegal it continues to be used on the people. The exceptions to censorship when ones rights are being violated are there but in the political game of social media it has been misconstrued and changed to fit the powerful and influential.
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Bamman, D., O’Connor, B., & Smith, N. (2012). Censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media. First Monday, 17(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v17i3.3943
Sohbati, N., & Weinstock, R. (2017, August 24). Democratic Public Space. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.cmgsite.com/democratic-public-space/
The Twitter Rules. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/twitter-rules
What Is Censorship? (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.aclu.org/other/what-censorship