Extra Credit: Reflection on Media Censorship
In countries like the United States, there is hardly anything that cannot be done or found through social media. As we have discussed in class, identities, news, political issues, social entertainment and basically every corner of the world is exposed to our screens. This new way of life has got to the point where technology has become the roots of an emerging culture, a culture that in great part is based on how effectively we use technology and how prominent we present ourselves in social media.
Here in the U.S, we have one-click access to all type of information and 24/7 availability of content. Everything is within our reach, everywhere we go. We listen, watch, read, but we are also able to participate in the issues of our time. Our voice is not limited or insignificant. However, it is very important to understand that the fact that this is part of our reality, does not imply that every part of the world is on the same page in terms of technology availability and participation in social media. In this way, what we account as obvious might be seen as a privilege to many others. In many countries like China, Turkey, Pakistan and Venezuela-to name a few- restriction and censorship are seen on a daily basis.
When we think about terms like 'censorship' and 'regulation,' we usually assume that they are for our society. I think in great part they is. However, I also believe that it is very easy to bring up an argument to criticize media restriction or reject the idea of eliminating some type of content when media never comes limited to us. I think depending on the context it could be pertinent to think about restriction of content in social media. In this way, it is worth questioning if restriction is necessarily bad as we may conceive in our society. Perhaps the right of freedom is not set to be absolute, perhaps certain type of content is harming people instead of adding value to to our society.
Think about for instance the case of terrorism. Social media has been used many times by terrorists to manipulate and promote fear in society. This is the case of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. We all got to know these groups, not originally because it was our intention to find out what was happening in Iraq and Syria, but because they suddenly became well-known figures in social media. But how could they gain our attention so quickly? They used social media to expand their impact, spread their message and generate fear in society. What we don't realize is that being in the headlines of newspapers is actually their strategy since this make them gain public attention, recognition and intimidation. A clear example of this is the YouTube video released by ISIS showing how a journalist is shot to death. Undoubtedly, if it was not for the massive media coverage that these groups get daily news, they would never have gained our attention and recognition around the world. The coverage of these events only install fear in the rest of the world and I believe that based on this context it is worth rethinking about "censorship" and "regulation."
Whatever view is taken on this, terrorism-related media does contribute to install fear and this fact that cannot be ignored regardless of our personal opinion about media censorship. I believe the media industry should establish the difference between sensationalist and pro-terrorism content and publications with an informative character that aim to present terrorists’ acts with accuracy.