DIGC202, Uncategorized

Scale and Speed : censorship

Our cyberspace has many affordances and limitations, but these aren’t always imposed on us by the technology itself, but rather controlling forces that seek to maintain power. 

Cyberspace has introduced scale being control and speed being coordination into society where we can now send messages to large group of people and coordinate an action instantaneously. However, this creates a new sort of power and because everyday people have access to the affordances of cyberspace, everyday people now also hold some amount of power. 

The power that we hold is too much for government regimes to grant freely to us because this kind of power could potentially mean a revolution, a leak of incrimination information and a civilian riot. In order to ensure that governments maintain control, they must take it from us.

As John Perry Barlow notes, governments “claim that there are problems among us that they need to solve as an excuse to invade our precinct.” This leads to censorship. 


Dehghan S, 2016 ‘Iran Bans Pokemon Go,’ TechCrunch, 8 August, <https://techcrunch.com/2014/05/03/business-and-censorship/&gt;

Dockterman E, 2014 ‘Turkey Bans Twitter,’ TIME, 20 March, <http://time.com/32864/turkey-bans-twitter/&gt;

Fallows J, 2008 ‘The connection has been reset,’ The Atlantic, March <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/03/the-connection-has-been-reset/306650/&gt;

Mapping Media Freedom, 2016 ‘Report: Journalists increasingly caught in the middle,’ Mapping Media Freedom, 2 August <https://mappingmediafreedom.org/plus/index.php/2016/08/02/report-journalists-increasingly-caught-in-the-middle/&gt;




3 thoughts on “Scale and Speed : censorship”

  1. Hi Monique,
    Awesome post! I like how you focused on the censorship part of the lecture, it’s such an interesting area. In this post you portray the government as power-seeking and reference Barlow’s idea that it makes excuses to reign control. I agree with you to an extent, but this source (http://www.debate.org/opinions/should-the-government-control-the-internet) opened my eyes to the other side of the argument. Lots of the commentators on this forum fear terrorism, no doubt due to recent ISIS-related events, and argue that government control could maximise safety in society. Another person makes the point that we as individuals relay too much of our information online. If we don’t post personal information, what will the government gain from controlling the internet? Others argue cases similar to yours and suggest that cyberspace should be a platform for ideas and free discussion. Personally, considering the way some groups abuse the internet, I feel that in some cases it is necessary for the government to have access and control over it for safety reasons. However, if the government were to abuse this power (and many say it does), it becomes more of an issue.
    – Claire


  2. Building upon the idea of free information producing the foundation for civil unrest in restricted states, King et al. (2013) argues that the Chinese censorship program doesn’t aim to suppress criticism of the party, with the probability of censorship of individual comments in digital spheres failing to increase. Instead the role of such censorship to provide a barrier for social ties when collective unrest begins to emerge. King et al. (2013) illustrates this as ‘collective action potential’ in which any form of action outside of state control leads to chaos and disruption; ‘Wu Bangguo, member of the Politburo Standing Committee and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said that “On the basis of China’s conditions…we’ll not employ a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation” in order to avoid “an abyss of internal disorder.”

    As a result, one may argue that censorship is a factor in political hegemony. Additionally at what point does society draw a line at censorship (pornography, social media or military), and can we draw comparisons to that of the monopolised market of western media.


    King et al. (2013) How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression, American Political Science Review, viewed 16.08.16


  3. Man I really enjoyed your post (as usual), you have a great online presence going. Kudos. I think you’ve raised a really important issue on censorship as a result of control. I personally can’t imagine what life would be like if the internet I have come to know had social media cut out. I think one thing is clear however: information wants to be freely available for all, which is why there are always a number of ways which crop up to help bypass the censorship placed on people, restricting access.
    On a similar note, I found this video while looking into the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFe9wiDfb0E
    It explores the idea of a cyberpunk trope – the singularity – and how that could play out with information being tightly controlled through software and copyright.

    Liked by 1 person

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