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TEXTBOOK: Ch. 10: The Internet and Social Media
Terms in this set (102)
Social media connects people around the world through shared images and stories.
It is not an overstatement to say that the internet and social media have changed the world, not to mention all the other mass media.
In addition to being powerful communication media themselves, these technologies sit at the center of virtually all the media convergence we see around us.
g-dfather of cyberspace
the medium is the message
William Gibson and Marshall Mcluhan have been 2 of your intellectual heroes ever since you started college.
Gibson is called the __________________________, originator of the term, and is the author of "Neuromancer" and "Johnny Mnemonic".
Mcluhan is the author of "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" and originator of some of your favorite expressions such as "hot and cool media" and "_____________________________."
But now ,as you see it, Gibson and McLuhan are in conflict.
the global village
For example, another of McLuhan's famous expressions is "____________________."
You understood this to mean that as media "shrink" the world, people will become increasingly involved in one another's lives.
As people come to know more about others who were once separated from them by distance, they will form a new, beneficial relationship, a global village.
Then you saw an interview with Gibson on television.
His vision of technology's impact on the globe was anything but optimistic.
He said, "We're moving toward a world where all the consumes under a certain age will...identify more with their consumer status or with the products they consume than they would with an antiquated notion of nationality.
We're increasingly interchangeable" (as cited in Trench, 1990).
Maybe you were wrong about McLuhan's ideas.
He did his influential writing a long time ago.
Where was it you read about the global village?
In a magazine interview?
You Google it to confirm that you understood him correctly.
There it is, just as you thought: "The human tribe can become truly one family and man's consciousness can be freed from the shackles of mechanical culture and enabled to roam the cosmos" (in Nordon, 1969).
McLuhan's global village is an exciting place, a good place for people enjoying increased contact and increased involvement with one another aided by electronic technology.
Gibson's nationless world isn't about involving ourselves in one another's lives and experiences.
It's about electronic technology turning us into indistinguishable non individuals, rallying around products.
We are united by buyable things, identifying not with others who share our common culture but with those who share common brands.
McLuhan sees the new communication technologies as expanding our experiences.
Gibson sees them more negatively.
You respect and enjoy the ideas of both thinkers.
How can you reconcile the disagreement you have uncovered?
We being this chapter with an examination of the Internet, the "new technology" that helped bring Gibson to prominence and gave renewed life to Marshall McLuhan's ideas.
Many of the issues discussed here will be familiar to you.
Given the fundamental role that the internet plays in encouraging and permitting convergence, concentration, audience fragmentation, globalization, and hyper commercialism, you should not be surprised that we've "met" the internet, the Web, and social media before now in discussing the more traditional media.
These technologies are significantly reshaping the operation of those media; and as the media with which we interact change, the role they play in our lives and the impact they have on us and our culture will likewise be altered.
We will look at the new technologies' ________________ (their ability to have both good and bad effects), their ability to foster greater freedom of expression, efforts to control that expression, changes in the meaning of and threats to personal privacy, and the promise and perils of practicing democracy online.
Finally, our discussion of improving our media literacy takes the form of an examination of the Declaration of Internet Freedom.
But first, the Internet.
A Short History of the Internet:
There are conflicting versions about the origins of the Internet.
In the words of media historian Daniel J. Czitrom, they involve "the military and the counterculture, the need for command and control and the impulse against hierarchy and toward decentralization".
The more common story --the command-and-control version--is that the internet is a product of the ______________.
in this version, the air force in 1962, wanting to maintain the military's ability to transfer information around the country even if a given area was destroyed in an enemy attack, commissioned leading computer scientists to develop the means to do so.
But many researchers and scientists dispute this "myth that [has] gone unchallenged long enough to become widely accepted as fact," that the internet was initially "built to protect national security in the face of nuclear attack".
In the decentralization version, as early as 1956 psychologist Joseph C. R. Licklider, a devotee of Marshall McLuhan's thinking on the power of communication technology, foresaw linked computers creating a country of citizens "informed about, and interested in, and involved in, the process of government".
He foresaw "home computer consoles" and television sets connected in a nationwide network."
"The political process would essentially be a giant releconference," he wrote, "and a campaign would be a months-long series of communications among candidates, propagandists, commentators, political action groups, and voters.
The key," he added, "is the self-motivating exhilaration that accompanies truly effective interaction with information through a good console and a good network to a good computer."
In what many technologists now consider to be the seminal essay on the potential and promise of computer networks, "Man-Computer Symbiosis," Licklider, who had by now given up psychology and devoted himself completely to computer science, wrote in 1960, "The hope is that in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled...tightly, and the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information handling machines we know today".
Scores of computer experts, enthused by Licklider's vision (and many more who saw networked computers as a way to gain access to the powerful but otherwise expensive and unavailable computers just beginning to become available), joined the rush toward the development of what we know today as the
, a global network of interconnected computers that communicate freely and share and change information.
Joseph C. R. Licklider envisioned a national system of interconnected home computers as early as 1956.
Development of the Computer:
The title "originator of the computer" resides with Englishman _____________________.
Lack of money and unavailable of the necessary technology stymied his plan to build an :analytical engine," a steam-driven computer.
But in the mid-1880s, aided by the insights of mathematician Lady Ada Byron Lovelace, Babbage did produce designs for a "computer" that could conduct algebraic computations using stored memory and punch cards for input and output.
His work provided inspiration for those who would follow.
Over the next 100 years a number of mechanical and electromechanical computers were attempted, some with success.
But Colossus, developed by the British to break the Germans' secret codes during World War II, was the first electronic
It reduced information to a
- that is, a code made up of the digits 1 and 0.
In this form information could be stored and manipulated.
The first "full service" electronic computer, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), based on the work of Iowa State's John V. Atanasoff, was introduced by scientists John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert of the Moore School of Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania in 1946.
ENIAC hardly resembled the computers we know today: 18 feet tall, 80 feet long, and weighing 60,000 pounds, it was composed of 17,500 vacuum tubes and 500 miles of electrical wire.
It could fill an auditorium and ate up 150,000 watts of electricity.
Mauchly and Eckert eventually left the university to form their own computer company, later selling it to the Remington Rand Corporation in 1950.
At Remington they developed UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), which, when bought for and used by the Census Bureau in 1951, became the first successful commercial computer.
the commercial computer explosion was ignited by IBM.
Using its already well-entrenched organizational system of trained sales and service professionals, IBM helped businesses find their way in the early days of the computer revolution.
One of its innovations was to sell rather than rent computers to customers, boosting diffusion of the new technology.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched _____________, Earth's first human-constructed satellite.
The once-undisputed supremacy of the United States in science and technology had been usurped, and U.S. scientists and military officials were in shock.
The Advanced Search Projects Agency (ARPA) was immediately established to sponsor and coordinate sophisticated defense-related research.
In 1962, as part of a larger drive to promote the use of computers in national defense (and giving rise to one of the stories of the Internet's origins), ARPA commissioned Paul Baran of the Rand Corporation to produce a plan that would enable the U.S. military to maintain command over its missiles and planes if a nuclear attack knocked out conventional means of communication.
The military thought a decentralized communication network was necessary.
In that way, no matter where the bombing occurred, other locations would be available to launch a counterattack.
Among Baran's plans was one for a "packet switched network."
He wrote, "Packet switching is the breaking down of data into datagrams or packets that are labeled to indicate the origin and the destination of the information and the forwarding of these packets from one computer to another computer until the information arrives at its final destination computer. This (is) crucial to the realization of a computer network. If packers are lost at any given point, the message can be resent by the originator."
the genius of the system Baran envisioned is twofold:
(1) common communication rules (called
) and common computer languages would enable any type of computer, running with any operating system, to communicate with another; and
(2) destination or delivery instructions embedded in all information sent on the system would enable instantaneous "detours" or "rerouting" if a given computer on the network became unavailable.
The Soviet Union's 23-inches-in-diameter, 184-pound Sputnik was not only the first human-made satellite to orbit Earth; it also sent shudders throughout the American scientific and military communities.
Using Honeywell computers at Stanford University, UCLA, the university of California-Sanra Barbara, and the University of Utah, the switching network, called ARPAnet, went online in 1969 and became fully operational and reliable within one year.
Other developments soon followed.
In 1972 an engineer named Ray Tomlinson created the first e-mail program (and gave us the ubiquitous @symbol).
In 1974 Stanford University's Vinton Cerf and the military's Robert Kahn coined the term "the Internet."
In 1979 a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Steve Bellovin, created Usenet and, independent of Bellovin, IBM created BITNET.
These 2 networking software systems enabled virtually anybody with access to a Unix or IBM computer to connect to others on the growing network.
By the time the internet Society was chartered and the World Wide Web was released in 1992, there were more than 1.1 million
-computers linking individual personal computer users to the Internet.
Today, there is an ever-expanding number of hosts, 100 million and growing, serving more than 3.7 billion users across the globe, or 50.1% of the world's population.
The Personal Computer:
A crucial part of the story of the Internet is the development and diffusion of personal computers.
IBM was fantastically successful at exciting businesses, schools and universities, and other organizations about computers.
But IBM's and other companies'
, and these stations at which users worked were connected to larger, centralized machines.
As a result, the Internet at first was the province of the people who worked in those settings.
personal computers (PCs)
When the semiconductor (or integrated circuit, or chip) replaced the vacuum tube as the essential information processor in computers, its tiny size, absence of heat, and low cost made possible the design and production of small, affordable
This, of course, opened the Internet to anyone, anytime.
Laptop computers, which outsold desktop models for the first time in 2007, extended that reach to anywhere.
The tablet computer was first introduced in 2006, by Microsoft.
It remained a niche computer favored by medical professionals for years.
But the 2010 introduction of the iPad (operated not by mouse but by touch screen) not only continued the expansion of computing to anyone, anywhere, but it also made it even more convenient.
In 2013 tablets outsold laptops for the first time and outsold both laptops and PCs in 2015.
The originators of the personal computing revolution - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Stephen Wozniak.
The desktop computer opened the Internet to anyone, anytime.
The laptop extended that reach to anywhere.
The tablet made anytime, anywhere more convenient.
The leaders of the personal computer revolution were Bill Gates and the duo of Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak.
As a first-year college student in 1975, Gates saw a magazine story about a small, low-powered computer, the MITS Altair 8800 (developed by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, an American electronics company), that could be built from a kit and used to play a simple game.
Sensing that the future of computing was in these personal computers and that the power of computers would reside not in their size but in the software that ran them, Gates dropped out of Harvard University and, with his friend Paul Allen, founded Microsoft Corporation.
They licensed their
- the software that tells the computer how to work - to MITS.
With this advance, people no longer had to know sophisticated operating languages to use computers.
At nearly the same time, in 1977, Jobs and Wozniak, also college dropouts, perfected Apple II, a low-cost, easy-to-use microcomputer designed specifically for personal rather than business use.
It was immediately and hugely successful, especially in its development of
capabilities - advanced sound and image applications.
IBM, stung by its failure to enter the personal computer business, contracted with Microsoft to use its operating system in its IBM PC, first introduced in 1981.
All of the pieces were now in place for the home computer revolution.
WANs (wide area networks)
The Internet Today:
The Internet is most appropriately thought of as a "network of networks" that is growing at an incredibly fast rate.
These networks consist of LANs (local area networks), connecting 2 or more computers, usually within the same building, and
, connecting several LANs in different locations.
When people access the Internet from a computer in a university library, they are most likely on a LAN.
But when several universities (or businesses or other organizations) link their computer systems, their users are part of a WAN.
ISPs (Internet Service Providers)
As the popularity of the Internet has grown, so has the number of
, companies that offer Internet connections at monthly rates depending on the kind and amount of access needed.
There are hundreds of ISPs operating in the U.S., including some of the better known such as SuddenLink and CenturyLink.
Americans increasingly find that their ISP and video (cable of FiOS) provider are one and the same - for example, Comcast and Verizon.
Half of all U.S. Internet users are served by the 5 largest ISPs.
Through providers, users can avail themselves of numerous services, among them e-mail, instant messaging, and VoIP.
With an Internet
account, users can communicate with anyone else online, any place in the world.
Each person online has a unique e-mail address that works just like a telephone number.
There are even online "Yellow Pages" and "White Pages" to help users find other people by e-mail.
You may be surprised that 295 billion e-mails are sent each day.
But if you are a regular e-mail user, you aren't surprised to learn that 89% of all e-mails, abut 260 billion a day, are
, unsolicited commercial e-mails.
, is the real-time version of e-mail, allowing 2 or more people to communicate instantaneously and in immediate response to one another.
IM can also e used for downloading text, audio, and video files and for gaming.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
, pronounced "voyp," is telephone whereby calls are transferred in digital packets over the Internet rather than on circuit-switched telephone wires.
Think of it as "voice e-mail."
Vonage (primarily residential) and Ring Central (primarily business) are 2 of the better-known VoIP providers.
More than 224 million people have residential VoIP, a number boosted by Facebook's introduction of free VoIP in its messaging app in 2014.
World Wide Web
The World Wide Web:
Although we often use the terms interchangeably, the Internet and the World Wide Web aren't the same thing.
The Internet is a massive network of networks, a networking infrastructure connecting billions of computers across the globe, allowing them to communicate with one another.
(usually referred to as "the Web") is a means of accessing information on the Internet.
Think of the Internet as "composed of the machines, hardware and data, and the World Wide Web is what brings this technology to life", suggests technology writer Jessica Toothman.
The Web is not a physical place, or a set of files, or even a network of computers.
The heart of the Web lies in the protocols that define its use.
The World Wide Web (WWW) uses hypertext transfer protocols (HTTP) to transport files from one place to another.
Hypertext transfer was developed in the early 1990s by England's Tim Berners-Lee, who was working at CERN, the international particle physics laboratory near geneva, Switzerland.
Berners-Lee gave HTTP to the world for free.
"The Web is more a social creation than a technical one," he wrote.
"I designed it for a social effect -- to help people work together -- and not as a technical toy. The ultimate goal of the Web is to support and improve our web-like existence in the world."
The ease of accessing the Web is a function of a number of components:
URL (uniform resource locator)
Hosts (Computers connected to the Internet):
Most Internet activity consists of users accessing files on remote computers.
To reach these files, users must first gain access to the Internet through "wired-to-the-Net" hosts.
These hosts are often called servers.
Once users gain access to a host computer on the Internet, they then have to find the exact location o the file they are looking for "on" the host.
Each file or directory on the Internet (that is, on the host computer connected to the Internet) is designed by a
A URL is, in effect, a site's official address.
But as any user of the Web knows, sites are more commonly recognized by their
The last part of a site's address, the .com or .org, is its top-level domain name, so we know that .com is a business and .org is a nonprofit.
But in 2012 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, authorized the use of a virtually unlimited number of generic top-level domains to include almost any word or name, for example .defibrillator or .newyorkcity.
It also permits, for the first time, the use of non-Latin language scripts, such as Arabic, Chinese, and Cyrillic.
The number fo individual domains, or websites, changes by the minute, but a 2012 analysis by a Google engineer counted 30 trillion unique URLs operating on the Internet.
Software programs loaded onto the user's computer and used to download and view Web files are known as
Browsers take separate files (text files, image files, and sound files) and put them all together for viewing.
Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer are 3 of the most popular Web browsers.
Finding information on the Web is simple thanks to
, software that allows users to navigate the Internet simply by entering a search word and selecting a page from the results.
Among the better known are Ask and Bing, but the best known and most frequently used - 65% of all searches worldwide, or 3.5 billion searches a day - is Google, which produces its results with technology that uses the collective intelligence of the Web itself; that is, search results are presented and ranked based primarily on how frequently a given site is linked to others.
Once users reach the intended website, they are greeted by a
- the entryway to the site itself.
It not only contains the information the site's creators want visitors to know but also provides
to other material in that site, as well as to material in other sites on other computers linked to the Internet anywhere in the world.
Smartphones make connecting to the Internet, already an anytime, anywhere activity thanks to laptops and tablets, even more convenient.
There is no need to search for a site or use a browser because an app on your smartphone will take you directly to its designated content; in fact, 90% of all mobile Web access is through apps.
In 2013, for the first time, users bought more smartphones than cell phones, and smartphones - not PCs, not laptops - are now the most frequently used platform for sending and receiving e-mail.
In fact, in 2014 mobile devices accounted for more than half of all U.S. Internet usage, 60%, the first time that has ever happened.
Proportion of Mobile Internet Time Spent on Apps:
1. Facebook App - 19%
2. Entertainment apps - 17%
3. Gaming apps - 15%
4. Messaging/social media apps - 12%
5. Other apps - 10%
6. Utility apps - 8%
7. Safari app - 6%
8. Chrome app - 4%
9. Productivity apps - 4%
10. YouTube app - 3%
11. News apps - 2%
O course, much mobile use is devoted to social media.
Where e-mail was long the Internet's most common and fastest-growing use, it was surpassed in 2009 by
, websites that function as online communities of users.
Today they account for 1 out of every 5 minutes Americans spend on mobile Internet and 1 out of every 6 minutes of all Internet time.
And it was Facebook's specific desire to make itself even more attractive to mobile users that drove the company in 2012 to buy the 2-year-old, purely mobile photo start-up Instagram for $1 billion.
Instagram now has more than 89 million U.S. users, 600 million worldwide.
Classmates.com's 1995 launch began the social networking movement, and it was soon followed by similar sites, most notably Friendster in 2002 and LinkedIn in 2003.
MySpace also launched in 2003 and, hipper and more feature-filled than the earlier efforts, became a favorite of young people around the world until it was unseated by Facebook, which was Harvard University - specific at birth in 2004 and became global in 2006.
Of all adult Americans on social media, 90.4% are Facebook users, and Facebook occasionally alternates with YouTube as the world's second most-visited website after Google; it collects 67.9% of the world's social networking ad revenues, $33 billion a year in 2016.
These "old line" sites were joined in 2006 by Twitter, a social media site designed for "micro-blogging," posts of up to 140 characters (called "tweets") displayed on senders' profile pages and delivered to their subscribers ("followers").
In 2017, Twitter began testing a doubling of its character limit to 280.
Delivery can be restricted to a specific circle of followers, or, by default, it can be public.
There are 67 million active monthly users in the U.S. and they send 500 million tweets a day.
While much of the activity is innocuous, like following a celebrity (singer Katy Perry has 95 million followers), much of it is serious.
It was Twitter activity that alerted the national media to the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests that followed in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes said that Twitter "is a heat map and a window, a place where sometimes the things that are 'trending' offer very real insight into the current informational needs of a huge swath of news consumers, some of whom traditional outlets often miss".
It is also the medium of choice for many world leaders and other news makers.
For example, President Donald Trump regularly uses it to bypass what he called the "dishonest press" to communicate directly with the public, though the traditional media will often report on his tweets.
Trump explained, "I can go 'bing bing bing' and I just keep going and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out - this morning on television, Fox: "Donald Trump, we have breaking news"".
There are scores of other social networking sites.
Some are general interest and growing in popularity, especially with younger users, for example, Snapchat (users post images and video that are viewable for only a short time) and Pinterest (users upload or search, save, sort, and manage images and videos into collections called "boards" that serve as personalized media platforms).
Others are narrower communities built around specific interests, for example CafeMom (for mothers), BlackPlanet (for the African American community), and Foursquare (for those who want their followers to know where they are and make recommendations of nearby services and activities.)
Debate over Social Media's Value:
Just as the befits and risks-the double edge-of the Internet as a whole continue to be debated, a number of issues specific to social media are generating their own disagreement.
We'll take a brief look at some of the most common questions surrounding our use of social media: Why do we engage others on social media, and how realistically do we present ourselves when we do? Do Facebook depression and Facebook envy exist? And are we substituting social media interaction for real-world relationships?
Presentation of Self:
There must be a reason that 70% of all U.S. adults belong to at least one social networking site, just as there must be a reason that 70% of smartphone users check their phones to read personal e-mails and check social media within an hour of getting out of bed, 61% regularly sleep with their phones turned on under their pillow or next to their bed, and 51% check their devices continuously during their vacations.
dual-factor model of social media use
One answer to the "why" of our engagement with social networking sites resides in the
, which claims that this engagement is motivated by 2 basic social needs.
The first is "the need to belong," our natural desire to associate with other people and gain their acceptance.
The second, the "need for self-presentation", is our ongoing effort to shape what others think of us.
The 2 operate simultaneously because social media activity not only tells us we belong (that's where our friends are), but it increases our sense of acceptance, and therefore, our self-esteem.
In fact, the simple act of updating and reading our own profiles boosts our self-esteem.
idealized virtual identity hypothesis
extended real-life hypothesis
But once we've made the decision to use social media, we must decide "how" we present ourselves.
As you'll soon read, many people worry about their privacy when online, but in our everyday use of social media we willingly offer even the minutest details about our lives, taking pains to update those offerings, and even supporting those entries with visual evidence.
When we do this we make judgments about the self we choose to reveal.
We select our screen names and profile pictures to identify ourselves as we wish to be identified.
But do we openly try to deceive?
If you think most social media users do, you subscribe to the
, which argues that social media users tend to show idealized characteristics that do not reflect who they really are.
But this may not happen as much as you might think.
For most users, their time on social media constitutes "an extended social context in which to express [their] actual personality characteristics, thus fostering accurate interpersonal perceptions.
[Social media] integrate various sources of personal information that mirror those found in personal environments, private thoughts, facial images, and social behavior, all of which are known to contain valid information about personality".
As a result, social media use makes it very difficult to hide who we actually are, and as such it's more likely that the
, the idea that we use social media to communicate our actual identities, holds true.
The openness of social media makes it impossible for us to control information about ourselves and our reputations - others can post information about us - and our friends constantly provide accountability and feedback on our profiles and other material we post.
That is, those who know us keep us honest.
Facebook Depression and Facebook Envy:
Can all this effort to present our best, truthful selves carry too much of a toll?
For many young people the answer seems to be "yes."
The American Academy of Pediatric recognizes
, "depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.
Acceptance by and contact with peers is an important element of adolescent life.
The intensity of the online world is thought to be a factor that may trigger depression in some adolescents".
affective forecasting error
Indeed, christina Sagioglou and Tobias Greitmeyer, whose research led them to express surprise "that Facebook enjoys such great popularity," demonstrated that
- the discrepancy between the expected and actual emotions generated by Facebook activity - produces a decline in users' mood after using the social networking site.
Other research has shown that Facebook users, after 1 week away from the site, had higher levels of life satisfaction, felt happier and less sad and lonely, were more satisfied with their social lives, had less trouble concentrating, and were more likely to feel present in the moment.
There is also evidence of another emotional downside to social networking:
As many as 1 in 3 Facebook users say they are sometimes resentful of the happiness others show on social media.
Commentary on "travel and leisure," "social interactions," and "happiness" are the 3 most frequent generators of envy.
And if you use social media, you know that these are the topics your fiends usually emphasize in their posts; who wants friends who report where they didn't go, who they didn't spend time with, and how unhappy they are?
Finally, this raises the question: What is a "friend" on social media?
What does "Friendship" mean when the average Facebook user has 350 friends (649 for 18-to-24-year olds)?
Are we connected online but disconnected in real life?
Why are 18-to-33-year-olds, among the heaviest social media users, more detached from traditional social, political, and religious institutions and far less trusting of others than are their seniors?
Only 19% say that "generally speaking, most people can be trusted".
Psychologist John Cacioppo has indeed demonstrated that "the greater the proportion of face-to-face interactions, the less lonely you are. The greater the proportion of online interactions, the lonelier you are."
But, recognizing social media's double edge, he concluded that social media are not at the root of social isolation; they are merely tools, good or bad, depending on how they are used.
"If you use Facebook to increase face-to-face contact, it increases social capital," he said.
"Facebook can be terrific, if we use it properly. It's like a car. You can drive it to pick up your friends. Or you can drive alone."
The Internet, Social Media, and Their Users:
We typically think of people who access a medium as audience members, but social media and the Internet have "users", not audience members.
At any time--or even at the same time--a person may be both "reading" online content and "creating" content.
E-mail, social media, and chat rooms are obvious examples of online users being both audience and creators, but others exist as well.
For example, massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMOs) enable entire alternative realities to be simultaneously constructed and engaged, and computer screens that have multiple open windows enable users to read one site while writing on another and uploading audio and video to even another.
With ease we can access the Web, link from site to site and page to page, and even build our own sites.
The Internet makes us all journalists, broadcasters, commentators, critics, filmmakers, and advice columnists.
It is almost impossible to tell exactly how many users there are on the Internet.
People who own computers are not necessarily linked to the Internet, and people need not own computers to use the Internet, as many users access the Internet through devices at school, a library, or work.
Current best estimates indicate that there are at least 3.7 billion users worldwide--51% of Earth's population and a 918% increase since 2000.
87% of Americans use the Internet, a 196% increase since 2000, a rapid rate of growth due in large part to the spread of smartphones.
The Internet's demographics have undergone a dramatic shift in the last several years as well.
In 1996 for example, 62% of U.S. Internet users were men.
In 2000, women became the internet's majority gender for the first time.
Today, women in every age group use the internet more than men do, and not surprisingly, the younger a person, the greater the likelihood is that he or she has access to the Internet.
Changes in the Mass Communication Process:
Concentration of ownership, globalization, audience fragmentation, hyper commercialism, and convergence are all influencing the nature of the mass communication process.
Each redefines the relationship between audiences and media industries.
For example, elsewhere in this text we have discussed the impacts of concentration on newspaper readership, of globalization on the type and quality of films available to moviegoers, of audience fragmentation on the variety of channel choices for television viewers, of convergence on the music industry's reinvention, and of hyper commercialism on all media.
The Internet is different from these more traditional media.
Rather than changing the relationship between audiences and industries, the Internet changes the "definition" of the different components of the process and, as a result, changes their relationship.
We are the people formerly known as the audience, and many of us are
, people who have never known a world without the internet.
On the Internet a single individual can communicate with as large an audience as can the giant, multinational corporation that produces a network television program.
That corporation fits our earlier definition of a mass communication source--a large, hierarchically structured organization--but the internet user does not.
Feedback in mass communication is traditionally described as inferential and delayed, but online feedback can be, and very often is, immediate and direct.
It is more similar to feedback in interpersonal communication than to feedback in mass communication.
This Internet-induced redefinition of the elements of the mass communication process is refocusing attention on issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, responsibility, and democracy.
The Double Edge of Technology:
The solution to the McLuhan-Gibson conflict in the opening vignette is one of perspective.
McLuhan was writing and thinking in the relative youth of the electronic media.
When "Understanding media" was published in 1964, television had just become a mass medium, the personal computer was years away, and Paul Baran was still envisioning ARPAnet.
Gibson, writing much later in the age of electronic media, was commenting from a more experienced position and after observing real-world evidence.
Mcluhan was optimistic because he was speculating on what electronic media "could do."
Gibson was pessimistic because he was commenting on what he had seen electronic media "doing."
Still, neither visionary is completely right or completely wrong.
Technology alone, even the powerful electronic media that fascinated both, cannot create new worlds or new ways of seeing them.
"We" use technology to do these things.
This is why technology is a double-edged sword.
It power-for good and for bad-resides in us.
The same aviation technology that we use to visit relatives halfway around the world can also be used to drop bombs in a war zone.
The same communication technologies used to create a truly global village can be used to dehumanize and demean the people who live in it.
Reconceptualizing Life in an Interconnected World:
What happens to people as they are increasingly interconnected?
What becomes of audiences and users as their roles are electronically intertwined?
How free are we to express ourselves?
Does greater connectivity with others mean a loss of privacy?
These are only a few of the questions confronting us as we attempt to find the right balance between the befits and drawbacks that come from the new communication technologies.
The Internet and Freedom of Expression:
By their very nature the Internet and social media raise a number of important issues of freedom of expression.
There is no central location, no on-and-off button for these technologies, making it difficult for those who want to control them.
For free expression advocates, this freedom from control is these media's primary strength.
The anonymity of their users provides their expression - even the most radical, profane, and vulgar - great protection, giving voice to those who would otherwise be silenced.
But this anonymity, say advocates of strengthened Internet control, is a breeding ground for abuse.
Opponents of control counter that the internet and social media's affordability and ease of use make them our most democratic media.
Internet freedom-of-expression issues, then, fall into 2 broad categories.
The first is the potential of the Internet and social media to make the First Amendment's freedom-of-the-press guarantee a reality for greater numbers of people.
The second is the problem of setting boundaries of control.
Freedom of the Press for Whom?:
Veteran "New Yorker" columnist A. J. Liebling, author of that magazine's "Wayward Press" feature and often called the "conscience of journalism," frequently argued that freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.
Theoretically, anyone can own a broadcast outlet or cable television operation.
But the number of outlets in any community is limited, and they are unavailable to all but the richest people and corporations.
Theoretically, anyone can own a newspaper to magazine, but again the expense involved makes this an impossibility for most people.
Newsletters, like soap-box speakers on a street corner, are limited in reach, typically of interest to those who already agree with the message, and relatively unsophisticated when compared with the larger commercial media.
The Internet, however, turns every user into potential mass communicator.
Equally important, on the Internet every "publisher" is equal.
The websites of the biggest government agency, the most powerful broadcast network, the newspaper with the highest circulation, the richest ad agencies and public relations firms, the most far-flung religion, and the lone user with an idea or cause figuratively sit side by side.
Each is only as powerful as its ideas.
In other words, the Internet can give voice to those typically denied expression.
The Internet is fast, far-reaching, easy to use, and perfect for activism at all global levels from local to global.
This digitally inspired civic engagement is dramatically demonstrated by
), geographically dispersed groups connected only by communications technology, quickly drawn together to perform collective action.
The 8-million-member MoveOn.org is the best-known site for the coordination of flash mobs and, as it has matured, online political action.
Using e-mail and social media, MoveOn.org has a history of generating large-scale protests and civic action on issues of social justice and the environment.
For example, it successfully mobilized Californians to move their state assembly to pass a bill requiring public disclosure of political donations and Hawaiians to raise the state's minimum wage.
And since 2010, GoFundMe has used
, the practice of using digital technology to solicit donations from a large number of people for a cause or project, to attract financial and other support for those in need because of calamities big and small.
Its 2016 funding pages for victims of flooding in Louisiana attracted $11.2 million, and the pages for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando collected $9 million.
When the islamic Center in Victoria, Texas, was destroyed in a fire under suspicious circumstances in January 2017, a GoFundMe campaign to rebuild it drew more than a million dollars from over 22 thousand donors in its first 5 days, easily exceeding the $850,000 goal.
But it doesn't take an activist website to connect people and move them to action.
There is much individually inspired online activism, derogatorily called
because it seems to require little real effort.
Social movement scholar Jennifer Earlt argues that "slacktivists" have no need to apologize for their work, because slacktivism can affect significant social good given that the Web provides slacktivists with 2 important benefits: It greatly reduces the costs for creating, organizing, and participating in protests, and it erases the need for activists to be physically together in order to act collectively.
Slacktivists moved thousands of people to ascend on several major U.S. airports in January 2017 to protest what they saw as an unconstitutional and inhumane temporary ban on citizens from 7 predominantly Muslim countries, including refugees from war-torn countries, announced only hours before by President Trump.
They stopped Bank of America from instituting a $5 debit card fee, motivated the National Federation of State High School Associations to develop materials to educate coaches about sexual assault and how to reduce assaults by those in their charge, and moved "Seventeen" to commit to a "Body Peace Treaty" in which it promised to stop changing models' body and face shapes.
The Internet also offers expanded expression through Weblogs, or blogs.
Before September 11, 2001, blogs were typically personal online diaries.
But after that tragic day, possibly because millions of people felt that the traditional press had left them unprepared and clueless about what was really going on in the world, blogs changed.
"Blogs" now refers to regularly updated online journals of commentary, often containing links to the material on which they are commenting.
There are more than 100 million active blogs worldwide.
Technology writer and conservative activist Andrew Sullivan saw blogging's potential in those early days: "Blogging is changing the media world and could foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture," not only because individual bloggers have earned their readers' respect, but also because their "personal touch is much more in tune with our current sensibilities" than are those of traditional media outlets.
Blogs have become such an important part of the cultural and political conversation that Internet-security company CloudFare now provides Project Galileo, a full array of protections against cyberattack, to politically or artistically important small, independent blogs as identified by a committee of 15 freedom-of-expresion and journalism nonprofits.
Blogs can also be more agile than the traditional media.
More so than these older, more cumbersome media, they encourage citizen action in a newly "see-through society."
For example, millions of bloggers constantly and in real time fact-check political candidates.
Some track the flow of money to politicians, connecting it to how they vote on important public issues.
They remind the powerful that "little brother" is watching.
Images caught by chance on a smartphone, arcane public data that goes otherwise unexamined, and citizen video taken at official events all make their way to the Internet and social media and to the people.
As Web activist Micah Sifry explained, "Even without central direction, the crowd is sourcing the world for interesting news and sharing tidbits constantly."
This is no small matter, as the Internet has surpassed newspapers as Americans' primary news source and, in 2015, search engines, primarily Google, overtook the traditional media as Americans' most-trusted way to find news.
Controlling Internet Expression:
Of course, the very same technologies that can empower users who wish to challenge those more powerful than themselves can also be used to lie and cheat.
The Internet and social media do not distinguish between true and false, biased and objective, trivial and important.
Once misinformation has been loosed online, it is almost impossible to catch and correct it.
The "smear forward" has plagued countless people and organizations.
Proctor & Gamble was victimized by stories that its cleaners killed pets.
Starbucks was falsely accused of refusing to provide coffee to marines serving in Iraq.
Other Internet-sustained falsehoods can have far more damaging real-world effects, such as the scientifically discredited belief that vaccines cause autism, leading many parents to deny their children potentially life-saving vaccinations.
Actress Jenny McCarthy, the most visible face of the anti-vaccine movement, boasts that her education on the issue comes from "the University of Google."
She routinely passes on her knowledge to her 1.3 million Twitter followers.
Reduced vaccination rates have led to a recurrence of measles outbreaks, once completely eradicated in the United States, and locale-specific outbreaks of mumps, whooping cough, and chicken pox traced to unvaccinated individuals.
lies and rumors have always been part of human interaction; the Internet only gives them greater reach.
But there is little the government can do to control this abuse.
Legal remedies already exist in the form of libel laws and prosecution for fraud.
Users can help by teaching themselves to be more attentive to unfamiliar Web addresses and by ignoring messages that are sent anonymously or that have suspicious origins.
There are e-based solutions as well.
Factcheck.org maintains an exhaustive, alphabetically organized list of debunking of the Internet's biggest lies.
Also of value is Snopes.com, the self-proclaimed "definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation."
Individual sites, too, have taken up the cause of precision and fact.
Wikipedia's tens of thousands of editors, for example, review new and altered entries in search of erroneous or public-relations-written material.
You can read about the controversy swirling around
- inaccurate Internet news stories designed to deceive and be spread - and what many observers claim was its very real impact on the 2016 presidential election in the essay entitled "Did Fake News Help Elect a President?
Using Media to Make a Difference: Did Fake News Help Elect a President?:
Did you hear that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton ran an underground child sex-slave network out of the basement of a pizzeria near the White House?
Did you read that President Barack Obama laundered money for Muslim terrorists and that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump for president in the 2016 election?
These stories, all obviously false, were shared millions of time on the Internet, especially on social networking sites.
But did these stories, many designed primarily to help one candidate win the presidency, have their intended effect?
In a political race marked by acrimony and distrust, not only between the candidates but between large portions of the American electorate, it is nearly impossible to single out any one reason Republican Trump defeated Democrat Clinton.
But given her nearly 3-million-vote plurality in the popular vote and his narrow wins in the 3 traditionally Democratic states that gave him the Electoral College history, many observers saw fake news, largely antti-Clinton, as a deciding factor in what was, until the final days, a very close race.
Fake news had many authors.
Some were pranksters who saw their jokes taken seriously.
Some were "entrepreneurs" at home and abroad attempting to draw clicks, and therefore ad dollars, with outrageous stories.
Some were satirists mocking the gullibility of those in government and the media who were too quick to accept any "news" that fit their preconceptions.
Some were "planted" by opposition political operatives, and some were agents of the Russian government determined to assist their favored candidate, as acknowledged by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Regardless of their motives for creating fake news, these writers quickly discovered that favorable Trump satires and those damaging to Clinton would be shared far more widely on Facebook and other social networking sites than would stories sympathetic to Clinton.
"It's all Trump. People go nuts for it," marveled Canadian satirical fake news writer John Eagan.
After the election, the American public learned that Facebook users were 2-and-a-half times more lily to read fake news than news from reputable journalism sites and that 23% of their fellow citizens shared fake political news, about half of whom knew at the time they passed it on that it was false.
They saw that during the last 3 months of the campaign the 20 top fake news storie on Facebook generated more shares, likes, and comments than the top 20 stories from actual news sites, and that the 23 best-performing fake news stories on Facebook in 2016 combined for 10.6 million engagements - shares, reactions, and comments - or about 460,000 each.
There was fake news; it was read and it was shared.
But did it make a difference?
It certainly did to the owners and customers of the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria when a man armed with a semi-automatic rifle "self-investigated" the site of Clinton's supposed sex ring, firing 3 shots while inside.
Facebook, Twitter, and google believed it made a difference, as all 3 companies implemented a number of technological and human-based solutions to identify, fact-check, and limit the spread of fake news.
CNN and the BBC thought it did, establishing reporting units to chase down and debunk false news stories.
The American public believed it did, as 64% said it had "the power to sow confusion".
Ultimately, while it may be impossible to definitely determine if fake news helped elect a president, there is little doubt that fake news did make a difference n an alternative and more insidious way.
Philosophy professor Michal Lynch explains, "There are an alarming number of people who tend to be credulous and form beliefs based on the latest thing they've read, but that's not the wider problem.
The wider problem is fake news has the effect of getting people not to believe real things."
People, he said, think, "There's no way for me to know what is objectively true, so we'll stick to our guns and our own evidence. We'll ignore the facts because nobody knows what's really true anyway."
That is how fake news really made a difference; it damaged our democracy by weakening our ability to govern ourselves because we, as citizens, are left with little common, objective reality from which to engage in civic-and-civil-discourse.
Pornography on the Internet:
Most efforts at controlling the Internet are aimed at indecent or pornographic Web content.
The particular concern with the Internet, therefore, is shielding children.
The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 forbade online transmission of any image that "appears to be of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct."
Proponents argued that the impact of child porn on the children involved, as well as on society, warranted this legislation.
Opponents argued that child pornography per se was already illegal, regardless of the medium.
Therefore they saw this law as an unnecessary and overly broad intrusion into freedom of expression on the Internet.
In April 2002 the Supreme Court sided with the act's opponents.
Its effect would be too damaging to freedom of expression.
"Few legitimate movie producers or book publishers, or few other speakers in any capacity would risk distributing images in or near the uncertain reach of this law," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.
"The Constitution gives significant protection from over-broad laws that chill speech within the First Amendment's vast and privileged sphere".
Kennedy cited the anti drug film "Traffic," Academy Award-Winning "American Beauty," and Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," all works containing scenes of minors engaged in sexual activity, as examples of expression that would disappear from the Internet.
The primary battleground, then, became protecting children from otherwise legal content.
The Internet, by virtue of its openness and accessibility, raises particular concerns.
Children's viewing of sexually explicit material on cable or streaming television can theoretically be controlled by parents.
Moreover, viewers must specifically order this content and typically pay an additional fee for it.
The purchase of sexually explicit videos, books, and magazines is controlled by laws regulating vendors.
But computers sit in homes, schools, and libraries.
Children are encouraged to explore their possibilities.
A search for a seemingly innocent term may have multiple meanings and might turn up any number of pornographic sites.
Proponents of stricter control of the Internet liken the availability of smut online to a bookstore or library that allows porn to sit side by side with books that children "should" be reading.
In actual, real-world bookstores and libraries, professionals, whether book retailers or librarians, apply their judgment in selecting and locating material, ideally striving for appropriateness and balance.
Children are beneficiaries of this professional judgment.
No such selection or evaluation is applied to the Internet.
Opponents of control accept the bookstore/library analogy but argue that, as troubling as the online proximity of all types of content may be, it is a true example of the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The solution seems to be in technology.
Filtering software, such as Net Nanny, can be set to block access to websites by title and by presence of specific words and images.
Few free speech advocates are troubled by filters on home computers, but they do see them as problematic when used on more public machines - for example, in schools and libraries.
They argue that software that can filter sexual content can also be set to screen out birth control information, religious sites, and discussions of racism.
Virtually any content can be blocked.
This, they claim, denies other users - adults and mature teenagers, for example - their freedoms.
Congress weighed in on the filtering debate, passing the Children's Internet Protection Act in 2000, requiring schools and libraries to install filtering software.
But First Amendment concerns invalidate this act as well.
A federal appeals court ruled in June 2002 that requiring these institutions to install filters changes their nature from places that provide information to places that unconstitutionally restrict it.
Nonetheless, in June 2003, a sharply divided Supreme Court upheld the Children's Internet Protection Act, declaring that Congress did indeed have the power to require libraries to install filters.
Copyright (Intellectual Property Ownership):
Another freedom-of-expression issue that takes on a special nature on the Internet is copyright.
Copyright protection is designed to ensure that those who create content are financially compensated for their work.
The assumption is that more "authors" will create more content if assured of monetary compensation from those who use it.
When the content is tangible (books, movies, magazines, CDs), authorship and use are relatively easy to identify.
But in the cyber world, things become a bit more complex.
John Perry Barlow (1996), a cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained the situation relatively early in the life of the Internet:
"The riddle is this: If our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it? How are we going to get paid for the work we do with our minds? And, if we can't get paid, what will assure the continued creation and distribution of such work?"
Technically, copyright rules apply to the internet as they do other media.
Material on the Internet belongs to the author, so its use, other than fair use, requires permission and possibly payment.
But because material on the Internet is not tangible, it is easily, freely, and privately copied.
This renders it difficult, if not impossible, to police those who do copy.
Another confounding issue is that new and existing material is often combined with other existing material to create even "newer" content.
This makes it difficult to assign authorship.
If a user borrows some text from one source, combines it with images from a second, surrounds both with a background graphic from a third, and adds music sampled from many others, where does authorship reside?
To deal with these thorny issues, in 1998 the U.S. Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Its primary goal was to bring U.S. copyright law into compliance with that of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The act does the following:
-Makes it a crime to circumvent anti piracy measures built into commercial software
-Outlaws the manufacture, sale, or distribution of code-breaking devices used to illegally copy software
-Permits breaking of copyright protection devices to conduct encryption research and to test computer security systems
-Provides copyright exemptions for nonprofit libraries, archives, and educational institutions under certain circumstances
-Limits the copyright infringement liability of Internet service providers for simply transmitting information over the Internet, but ISPs are required to remove material from users' websites that appears to constitute copyright infringement.
-Requires web casters (those who broadcast music over the Internet) to pay licensing fees to record companies
-States explicitly that
- instances in which copyrighted material may be used without permission or payment, such as taking brief quotes from a book - applies to the Internet
What the debate over Internet copyright represents - like concern about controlling content that children can access and efforts to limit troublesome or challenging expression - is a clash of fundamental values that has taken on added nuance with the coming of computer networks.
The issues of privacy in mass communication has traditionally been concerned with individuals' rights to protect their privacy from invasive, intrusive media.
For example, should newspapers publish the names of rape victims and juvenile offenders?
When does a person become a public figure and forfeit some degree of privacy?
In the global village, however, the issue takes on a new character.
Whereas Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis could once argue that privacy is "the right to be left alone," today privacy is just as likely to mean "the right to maintain control over our own data."
Privacy in the global village has 2 facets.
The first is protecting the privacy of communication we wish to keep private.
The second is the use (and misuse) of private, personal information willingly given online.
Protecting Privacy in Communication:
The 1986 Electronic Communication Privacy Act guarantees the privacy of our e-mail.
It is a criminal offense to either "intentionally [access] without authorization a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided; or intentionally [exceed] an authorization to access that facility."
In addition, the law "prohibits an electronic communications service provider from knowingly divulging the contents of any stored electronic communication."
The goal of this legislation is to protect private citizens from official abuse; it gives e-mail "conversations" the same protection that phone conversations enjoy.
If a government agency wants to listen in, it must secure permission, just as it must get a court order for a telephone wiretap.
And while the 1986 act is still the law, whistle-blower Edward Snowden's 2013 revelation that the National Security Agency, in its efforts to thwart terrorism, was collecting virtually every piece of data that traveled the Internet made it clear that privacy of communication on the Internet, is at best, a hoped-for ideal.
Debate has raged over whether Snowden is a hero or traitor, but no one disputes the fact that U.S. government agencies constantly and ubiquitously track our online activity.
You can argue that this benign surveillance - computers recording what other computers are doing to look for suspicious patterns - is more beneficial than harmful; it's keeping us safe.
Or you might argue, as does reporter Chris Hedges, that "the relationship between those who are constantly watched and tracked and those who watch and track them is the relationship between masters and slaves".
In either case, as a media-literate Internet user, you should be aware of what national security reporter Robert Sheer calls "the great contradiction of our time: the worldwide Internet...also contain[s] the seeds of freedom's destruction because of the awesome power of this new technology to support a surveillance state that exceeds the wildest dream of the most ingenious dictator".
This tension between ensuring our national security and protecting our personal privacy, is in the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the "issue of our age."
Protecting Privacy of Personal Information:
Every online act leaves a "digital trail," making possible easy
- the massive collection and distillation of consumer data.
Ironically, we willingly participate in this intrusion into our privacy.
Online marketer Shelly Palmer explains, "most of us are willing ogive up our data - location, viewing, purchasing, or search history - for our online enjoyment. We can call this the 'willing suspension of our privacy' because if you spent a moment to consider what your data was actually being used for, you would refuse to let it happen".
She wants us to understand that because of computer storage, networking, and cross-referencing power, the information we willingly give to one entity is easily and cheaply given to countless unknown others.
One form of dataveillance is distributing and sharing personal, private information among organizations other than the one for whom it was originally intended.
Information from every credit card transaction (online or at a store,) credit application, phone call, supermarket or other purchase made without cash (for example, with a check, debit card, or "club" card), newspaper and magazine subscription, and cable television subscribers hip is digitally recorded, stored, and most likely sold to others.
The increased computerization of medical files, banking information, job applications, and school records produces even more salable data.
Eventually, anyone who wants to know something about a person can simply buy the necessary information - without that person's permission or even knowledge.
These data can then be used to further invade people's privacy.
For example, employers can withhold jobs fro reasons unknown to applicants.
Recognizing the scope of data collection and the potential problems that it raises, Congress passed the 1974 Federal Privacy Act, restricting "government's" ability to collect and distribute information about citizens.
The act, however, expressly exempted businesses and other nongovernmental organizations from control.
As a result, 45% of Internet users say privacy and security concerns have stopped them from engaging in routine Internet activities such as posting on social networks, expressing opinions, and buying online, and 86% have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints.
The Internet industry and the federal government responded in 2012 with a "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" voluntary guidelines suggesting sites place a "do not track" button on their Web pages.
Critics contend that these guidelines are insufficient protection, as not all sites comply, and even those with the button may still collect and hold users' personal data for their own market research.
They object to the idea that websites should provide us that security only if we specifically ask for it, called
"When did privacy become a choice rather than the default?" they ask.
Instead, sites should have to get our permission before they collect and disseminate our personal data, that is, we should be able to
, as is the case in Europe.
While American ISPs and marketers find opt-in "onerous", European Union privacy law not only requires Internet companies to get explicit user consent before using their data, it also grants all citizens the "right to be forgotten," that is, the right to ask to have all their collected personal data deleted forever.
Privacy advocates ask the question, "If we have legislation to bring our copyright laws into compliance with those of other nations, why shouldn't we do the same with our privacy laws?"
radio frequency identification (RFID) chip
augmented reality (AR)
Internet of Things (IO T)
4 relatively new technological advances pose additional privacy problems: the
; cloud computing; and the
in which everyday objects have built-in network connectivity, allowing them to send an receive data.
the first, RFID, already used by many retailers, is a grain-of-sand-sized microchip and antenna embedded in consumer products that transmits a radio signal.
The advantage to retailers is greater inventory control and lower labor costs.
The retailer has an absolute, up-to-the-minute accounting of how many boxes of widgets are on the shelf, and consumers simply walk out the door with their boxes while the RFID sends a signal charging the correct amount to the proper credit card; no checkout personnel is needed.
Privacy advocates' concern should be clear.
That signal keeps on sending.
Now marketers, the government, and others will know where you and your box of widgets are at all times, how quickly you go through your box of wedges, and where you are when you run out of widgets.
How soon until your e-mail's inbox fills up with offers of widgets on sale?
What if a burglar could use an RFID reader from outside your house to preview its contents?
What happens when these data are networked with all your other personal information?
What if you buy a case of beer rather than a box of widgets?
Will your employer know?
The second advance, introduced in 2009 and available in smartphones containing the program Layar, augmented reality (AR) permits users to point their smartphones at a real-world location, person, or scene and be instantly linked to hundreds of websites containing information about those things, superimposed over the screen image.
Very cool, say proponents-instant restaurant reviews, nearby flu-shot locations, related Instagram photos, and the names of relatives you might nknow in the area.
Very scary, say privacy advocates: "Find in facial-recognition [already extant] and you could point your phone at Bob from accounting, whose visage is now 'augmented' with the information that he has a gay son and drinks Hoegaarden.
In other words, everything that exists on the Internet is linkable.
When anyone and everyone can access these data by simply pointing a phone at someone, privacy, already on life support, dies.
A third advance worrying privacy advocates is the growing use of cloud computing and its storage of data, including personal information, on third-party environments.
Google, Microsoft, and numerous independent providers offer cloud computing, and advocates tout the increased power and memory of the cloud, arguing that even if your laptop is lost or destroyed, you lose nothing.
But privacy advocates counter that data stored online has less privacy protection both in practice and under the law.
Cloud services claim data is protected by
, the electronic coding or masking of information that can be deciphered only by a recipient with the proper decrying key.
Yet there are no guarantees, argue online privacy advocates, given repeated revelations that not only does the federal government tap into files of Internet search engines and e-mail and cloud service providers, but many of these companies willingly provide people's data to the authorities.
For example, it was recently discovered that Yahoo has a secret custom software program that searches all of its customers' incoming e-mails for specific information requested by U.S. intelligence officials.
Privacy experts say there's simply no way to every be completely sure your data will remain secure once you've moved it to the cloud.
Finally, almost any everyday device we use today - consumer electronics, cars, utility meters, refrigerators, automatic coffee makers, vending machines, thermostats, lights, clothes and wearable devices, baby monitors - can be connected to the Internet.
In 2017 the number of IoT devices surpassed the number of people living on Earth, an expansion encouraged in part by its low cost, about $1 per device.
It is only people's concern about their privacy that keeps the growth rate of IoT from being even faster than it is.
If everything that exists on the Internet is linkable, IoT means that others will have access to an ever greater array of the most personal and intimate aspects of our lives.
There is, for example, an IoT bag from corn-chip maker Tostitos that contains a sensor that detects even small traces of alcohol on the breath of nearby snackers.
If it does so, it turn red, changes into the image of a steering wheel, and delivers the message, "Don't drink and drive."
A simple tap of the bag with a smartphone hails a car from Uber.
As convenient as that may be, if it can connect to a ride-sharing service, it can connect to the police, your employer, your insurance company, or anyone interested in how you spend your free time.
Privacy advocates' IoT fears seemed to be confirmed with the revelation that Vizio's Internet-connected TV sets were secretly collecting their owners' viewing information and selling it to advertisers.
Another form of dataveillance is the electronic tracking of the choices we make when we are online, called our
Despite the anonymity online users think they enjoy, every click of a key can be, and often is, recorded and stored.
This happens whether or not the user actually enters information -- for example, a credit card number to make a purchase or a Social Security number to verify identity.
This tracking is made possible by
, an identifying code added to a computer's hard drive by a visited website.
Normally, only the site that has sent the cookie can read it - the next time you visit that site it "remembers" you.
But some sites bring "third-party" cookies to your computer.
Maintained by big Internet advertising networks like DoubleClick and Engage, these cookies can be read by any of the thousands of websites also belonging to that network, whether you've visited them or not, and without your knowledge.
As a result, this software is more commonly referred to as
, identifying code placed on a computer by a website without permission or notification.
Spyware not only facilitates tracking by unknown sites and/or people (those "third parties") but opens a computer to unwanted pop-up ads and other commercial messages.
At any given time, a regular Web user will have dozens of cookies on his or her hard drive, but most commercial browsers come equipped with the capacity to block or erase them
The Anti-Spyware Coalition offers information and assistance on how to deal with cookies and spyware.
In addition, users can purchase cookie-scrubbing software.
Commercial firms such as Anonymizer sell programs that not only block and erase spyware but also allow users to surf the Web anonymously.
Cultural Forum: Why Not Here?":
The security and use fo our online information, a topic that has roiled the public forum since the internet was in its infancy, was once again a topic of debate in late 2016, when Google, Amazon, and other American online businesses agreed to a "safe harbor" arrangement with the European Union that would allow the transfer of people's digital data, previously strictly limited, back and forth across the Atlantic only if those companies promised not to make that data available to U.S. Intelligence agencies, a protection not available to American Internet users.
European Internet users sued to stop the agreement because for many, "an individual's right to privacy [is] almost on par with freedom of expression" and they believed that there was too great a risk that those promises would not be kept.
Other online privacy differences exist, even though American companies are bound by Europe's rules when doing business there.
For example, not only do Americans not have the right to have their personal data erased and not only must they opt out of data tracking rather than opt in, but Google offers on-screen information to European users giving them details on the cookies a site is using and what information is being collected.
In addition, all European Union Internet and social media users have the right to demand that a site provide a detailed account of every bit of information it has collected on them, and that material must be supplied.
Europe's "right to be forgotten" rule also gives people the power to have search engines dente listings they consider outdate or irrelevant.
Whether you think that is a good idea or not (should a drunk driver who killed an innocent pedestrian have the right to demand the erasure of links to online news sources that reported that event?), these discrepancies raise an important question for Web privacy advocates: why do American-based Internet and social media companies offer their overseas users greater privacy protection than they do their U.S. customers?
"Europe's data protection rules have become the default privacy settings for the world." said Billy Hawkes, one-time Irish data protection regulator.
Hong Kong, for example, now requires opt-in.
The Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and even China have adopted data-privacy rules much like those in Europe, some backed by serious financial penalties for violators.
But the situation in the United States remains as it has been since the Internet's inception; the government generally prefers to let the industry regulate itself on privacy matters.
Enter your voice.
Why should this be the case?
As you've read, a large number of Americans do not feel secure in much of their online activity.
Why can't we have the privacy controls that American Internet companies grant to others?
Is it our basic distrust of government intervention in mass communication issues?
-If so, why do 64% of Internet users want greater regulatory protection for their online data?
is it that we trust out social media companies to do the right thing?
Then how do you explain the fact that half of American social media users do not trust the sites they use to protect their personal data?
Is it our own ambivalence?
Are we the authors of our own online fate?
How else can you explain the fact that 1/3 of Americans say they are willing to exchange basic personal information with a website in exchange for "compelling content."
The Internet and social media are characterized by freedom and self-governance, which are also the hallmarks of true democracy.
It is no surprise, then, that these technologies are often trumpeted as the newest and best tools for increased democratic involvement and participation.
This enthusiasm for a technological solution to what many see as increased disenchantment with politics and the political process mirrors that which followed the introduction of radio and television.
A September 3, 1924, "New Republic" article, for example, argued that the high level of public interest in the radio broadcast of the 1924 political party conventions brought "dismay" to "the most hardened political cynic".
in 1940 NBC founder and chairman David Sarnoff predicted that television would enrich democracy because it was "destined to provide greater knowledge to larger numbers of people, truer perception of the meaning of current events, more accurate appraisals of men in public life, and a broader understanding of the needs and aspirations of our fellow human beings."
Some critics argue that the Internet will be no more of an asset to democracy than have been radio and television because the same economic and commercial forces that have shaped the content and operation of those more traditional media will constrain the Internet just as rigidly.
They point to the endless battles to keep the Internet open and free.
There are frequent fights over
(often just net neutrality), the requirement that all ISPs, including cable MSOs (multiple system operators), allow free and equal flow of all Web traffic.
For example, if all sites were not equal, one that was willing (and able) to pay would have its content transmitted to people's computers more quickly.
Another, a political activist site for example, that was unwilling (or unable) to pay would have its content slowed down.
Their pessimism also resides in part in concentration and conglomeration of the Internet - Google's acquisition of popular (and democratic) YouTube; Microsoft's purchase of Internet video phone company Skype and social networking sites LinkedIn and Yammer; Facebook's purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp; Yahoo's purchase of blogging service Tumblr and its later acquisition by Verizon; AT&T's merger with DirecTV and its efforts to acquire Time Warner, to list a few.
Others argue that, by its very nature, the Internet is ill suited for the task of serving democracy.
Wael Ghonim, one of the "fathers" of the Arab Spring, the short-lived technology-field rebellion against Middle East repression saw the medium's potential and its failure:
"The same medium that so effectively transmits a howling message of change also appears to undermine the ability to make it. Social media amplifies the human tendency to bing with one's own kind. It tends to reduce complex social challenges to mobilizing slogans that reverberate in echo chambers of the like-minded rather than engage in persuasion, dialogue, and the reach for consensus. Hate speech and untruths appear alongside good intentions and truths".
The Technology Gap:
An important principle of democracy is "one person, one vote."
But if democracy is increasingly practiced online, those lacking the necessary technology and skill will be denied their vote.
This is the
- the widening disparity between the communication technology haves and have-nots.
Even with its rapid diffusion, 13% of people in the U.S. do not use the Internet.
The "democratization" of the Internet still favors those who have the money to buy the equipment needed to access the internet as well as to pay for that connection.
This leaves out many U.S. citizens - those on the wrong side of the
, the lack of technological access among specific groups of Americans.
Although 87% of all Americans regularly access the Internet, usage rates lag for those less educated, people with disabilities, those with lower incomes, those in rural areas, Hispanic and African American households, and less affluent elderly people with disabilities.
Demographics of the 13% of U.S. adults without Internet access:
Hispanic - 16%
Black - 16%
White - 13%
Rural - 22%
Urban - 12%
Suburban - 11%
65+ - 41%
50-64 - 16%
30-49 - 4%
18-29 - 1%
<$30,000 - 23%
$30,000-$49,999 - 12%
$50,000-$74,999 - 6%
$75,000+ - 3%
No high school diploma - 34%
High school diploma - 23%
Some college - 6%
College diploma - 3%
The Information Gap:
Another important principle of democracy is that self-governing people govern best with full access to information.
This is the reason our culture is so suspicious of censorship.
The technology gap feeds a second impediment to virtual democracy, the
Those without the requisite technology will have diminished access to the information it makes available.
In other words, they will suffer from a form of technologically imposed censorship.
Critics of the information gap point to troubling examples of other media failures to deliver important information to all citizens.
Cable television subscribers hip is lowest among urban working-class and poor people.
Many newspapers, uninterested in these same people because they do not possess the demographic profile coveted by advertisers, do not promote their papers in the neighborhoods in which they live and, in some large cities, do not even deliver there.
For the same reason, there are precious few consumer magazines aimed at less well-off people.
If the technology gap creates an even wider information gap than already exists between these audiences and other citizens, democracy will surely suffer from what social scientists call the
, growing differences in knowledge, civic activity, and literacy between better-informed and less-informed Americans.
The best way to bridge the technology, information, and knowledge gaps is to close the digital divide, an effort that has taken up the interest of several private and public entities.
For example, the FCC, through its E-Rate program, invests about $1 billion a year to provide, expand, and upgrade broadband Internet access to American schools and libraries with money raised from the universal service fee you see on your phone bill.
Cable giant Comcast offers low-cost broadband service, as little as $10 a month, for families living in poverty.
Despite significant resistance from local MSOs (the same people who continue to fight net neutrality), 300 cities and towns across America offer their citizens low-cost broadband.
In 2015, the Obama administration signaled its intention to forbid state legislatures from outlawing this so-called
The attempt was defeated by a 2016 court decision, so these restrictions remain on the books in 23 states.
Still, municipal broadband continues to expand; for example, New York City maintains LinkNYC, 10,000 kiosks occupying spots that once housed pay phones, to give its citizens and visitors free Wi-Fi and free domestic phone calling.
Other than the fundamental fairness of granting all people equal access to information, these efforts are encouraged by evidence that there is a definite financial befit to the municipalities and regions that provide expanded broadband access.
Developing Media Literacy Skills:
The Declaration of Internet Freedom:
Given its importance to virtually all aspects of human endeavor, many people believe that the internet should be treated as a basic human right.
This philosophy is contained in the Declaration of Internet Freedom, originally developed by a coalition of 1,500 of the world's leading technology and Internet freedom advocates.
Among the 2,000 organizational and 75,000 individual signatories in 150 different countries are the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders, and the Mozilla Foundation.
Translated into 72 languages, the Declaration is posted at www.internetdeclaration.org.
It sets out 5 principles that all governments and corporations should follow to keep the Internet free:
1. "There must be no censorship of the Internet." (All expression is free and equal, and users must be free to access it as they wish. Today, scores of national governments continue to censor content because, they say, they wish to impose traditional social values, keep political stability, or maintain national security.)
2. "There must be universal access to fast and affordable networks." (The internet is the most democratizing of all media; to remain so, access-technological and economic-must be available to all, regardless of locale or financial situation. Despite its impressive reach, 3.7 billion of the Earth's people have no access to the internet.)
3. "There must be freedom to connect, communicate, create, and innovate over the Internet." (The internet renders us all creators as well as consumers, generators of innovations as well as their recipients. There should be no barriers to entry or dissemination. You'll recognize this as a call for net neutrality; today 74% of all nations have no such guarantee.)
4. "there must be protection for new technologies and innovators whose innovations are abused by others." (The internet is a benign technology, it is its use that brings value, good or bad. Advances and those who make them must be free from censure if others misuse their work.)
5. "There must be privacy rights and the ability for users to control how information about them is used." (We are all humans with dignity. The remarkable power of the internet does not change the inherent value of being free-absent surveillance-to be who and what we want to be. In 84% of the world's countries, laws that prevent mass online surveillance are "weak or nonexistent.")
As the Internet, World Wide Web, and social media increasingly become necessities and even life-sustaining utilities, media-literate users have an obligation to do more than know and support this declaration.
We must make our own declaration of intent to make the most of our online freedom.
It is important to remember that culture is neither innate nor inviolate.
"We" construct culture - both dominant and bounded.
Increasingly, we do so through mass communication, and the Internet has given us voice once unimaginable.
So before we can enter the forum in which those cultures are constructed and maintained, we must understand where we stand and what we believe.
We must be able to defend our positions.
The hallmarks of a media-literate individual are analysis and self-reflection.
Reread the 5 principles.
After having read this chapter's discussion of privacy, freedom of expression, fake news, the digital divide, net neutrality, and municipal broadband, how well fo you think they are being met?
Are you aware, for example, that several ISPs, notably Comcast, Frontier Communications, and Time Warner Cable, have either tried or announced they would begin
That is, they would charge users "byte by byte" - heavier users would pay more and more modest users would pay less.
Is this consistent with the promise of full access?
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