For many people in living in the twenty-first century, Park and Recs Tom Haverford, speaks the truth. Our time revolves around checking social media, it can dictate what we wear, where we eat, the news we see and the people we interact with. But for some, the use of social media is not an option, as governments are blocking their right to access the Internet.
While there are over 1.3 billion people using Facebook around the world, those living in North Korea, Iran, China, Syria, and a number of other countries are not included in these statistics. Their governments place firewalls on website such as Facebook as they believe social media will be used as a tool to fight against politics. These countries however all have something else in common. They are all run under dictatorships that care about power and money, rather than supporting its people, who have no voice against their rulers.
The Chinese Communist party has been in power for over 60 years. In 2003 the Ministry of Public Security, initiated a censorship and surveillance project called Golden Shield Project, otherwise known as the Great Firewall of China. The Chinese government believes that to remain in power they must regulate what information is given to its people, something they could not do with its people using the Internet. The Great Firewall of China gave the government their control back. Any website on the Internet that discredits the Chinese government or highlights its brutality is blocked to anyone in the country. While this is the most basic understanding of the firewall, The Hungry Beast explains the project well.
“The Chinese effort to censor the Internet is a feat of technology, legislation and manpower. According to the BBC, which is almost completely blocked within the “great firewall of China”, 50,000 different Chinese authorities “do nothing but monitor traffic on the internet”. No single law exists to permit this mass invasion of privacy and proscription of free speech. Rather, hundreds of articles in dozens of pieces of legislation work to obfuscate the mandate of the government to maintain political order through censorship.”(Hogge, 2005).
While China has its own forms of social media, YouKu instead of Youtube and RenRen to replace Facebook, the issue is not so much that China is missing out on the wonders of popular social media sites but that their rights to access content and free speech are being suppressed. “Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates in its 2006 World Report that at least sixty political prisoners are now in Chinese jails because they revealed information on the Internet that the government wanted kept quiet” (Thatcher, 2006). If the Chinese government are willing to condemn their people for telling the truth, then they have a much bigger issue than not being able to let the world know what they’re having for lunch.
Hogge, B 2005, ‘The Great Firewall of China’, Intermedia, vol. 33, no. 5 pp. 16-17.
Osborne, C 2015, ‘China reinforces its Great Fireway’, CENet, 30 January, viewed 16 April 2015, <http://www.cnet.com/news/china-reinforces-its-firewall-doubles-down-on-socia-media/>.
Thatcher, W 2006, ‘The Internet, Censorship, and China’, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, vol. 7 no. 2, pp. 111-119.
Torfox 2011, The Great Firewall of China: Background, Torfox: A Stanford Project, viewed 16 April 2015, <http://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/2010-11/FreedomOfInformationChina/the-great-firewall-of-china-background/index.html>.