“Evaluate the democratic values of ‘We Media’ in relation to the past.”

The term ‘We Media’ refers to a contemporary interactive technology platform, which gives users the ability to generate and produce content that has the capability of  being accessible and linked to every other person in the world who has a connection to the same platform. Evidently, this means that all aspects of social, political and cultural contents can be explored in numerous ways that are provided, with no limitations. ‘We-Media’, i.e the ‘interactive web’ evolves around the internet and advances on the public instead of mass media institutions, this is alleviated with the adequate attainable technical devices such as mobile phones and iPads.

The initial breakthrough of ‘We Media’ was with the commencement of the internet and emergence of broadband which refers to a telecommunications signal of greater bandwidth, resulting in increased communication speed, allowing the features of Web ‘2.0’ to evolve and the sharing of information became simplified for society. ‘Web-2.0’’s most significant feature is that it allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumer) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them. There are many beneficial factors of having freedom of speech and ideologies within a space that is visible to the whole world, for example the role of the internet within the rigged presidential elections in Iran was prominent. To spread and promote the corruptness of the government the social network site ‘Twitter’ was most used as a tool of democracy, Twitter hashtags used most frequently in tweets about the protest included #Iran, #iranelection. Due to strict foreign media censorship by the Iranian government, social networking sites became the primary source of information, videos, and testimonials of the protests. Major news outlets, such as CNN and BBC News, gained much of their information from using and sorting through tweets by Twitter users and videos uploaded to YouTube. Without the existence of ‘we-media’ platform and the internet broadband connection, these historical revolutionary riots would have been manipulated into a mere ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘rumour’ which would have quickly been swept under the rug. And the Iranian government would have used propaganda and the hypodermic needle would have worked as people would have no other alternative. This supports the idea of an increased rate of democracy accompanying ‘Web 2.0’ as people no longer are forced to absorb the information they are given by news and media corporations. The primary goal of the news is to sell their story thus the viewer is running the risk of being a victim of moral panic due to mass media amplifications. Thus ‘We-Media’ allows society to conduct their own research and gain a better perspective of reality rather than the filtered truth.

Alternatively, it can be argued that ‘We-Media’ has some negative democratic values, because despite its advantages, there are many countries in the world that don’t have access to the internet, being satellite based, there are hardly any countries that ‘cant’ have the internet, however governments have the power to eliminate it within their country. The idea of internet censorship which can be defined as suppression of accessing certain information on the internet. Again a good example of this was the Iranian government stopping internet access, On 13 June as the election results were being announced, Iran shut down all Internet access for about 45 minutes, then restarted it with lower bandwidth; this may have been in order to set up filters to block sites like Facebook and YouTube that could be used for political purposes. However, there are certain countries that have a permanent ban on the internet, such as China and North korea ( who are coincidently communist countries), where only certain pieces of information can be accessed and ‘We Media’ doesn’t exist, in order to follow the countries ‘no democracy’ legislations.

The graph above shows that the highest usage of the internet is from North America with 77.4%, the lowest being Africa with 10.9%  that’s nearly 80% difference between the two countries, widening the spectrum and highlighting the lack and deprivation of the internet in underdeveloped countries. The world average of access to the internet is a shocking 28.7% which is only around  1,966,514,816 internet users round the world. Compared to the world population of f 6,845,609,960 this is fairly low. Herbert Schiller argues that perhaps this is for the best “the communication revolution will merely reinforce existing inequalities in a world which is becoming perilously more divided”, Perhaps if the freedom of speech was exposed to those who aren’t accustomed to it, it may cause problems, as a world of possibilities will be available to them, and perhaps mass marketing would provoke negative actions in order to attain products which are being promoted. However this also means, that there holes within the idea of ‘We-Media’ now as the statistics above show that the majority of the world (71.3%)  don’t have access to the internet. Thus the consumers/producers who do use broadband are unable to take full advantage because a large chunk of the world isn’t online.

In conclusion, it can be argued that ‘We Media’ is extremely useful, culturally, socially and in particular politically as it has provided connections to assist in revolutions happening all over the world not only Iran but also the Egyptian Riots of 2011 and the Rwanda Genocide as well as the 9/11 terrorist attacks which were filmed by the public with their mobile phones (convergence) and sold to news companies. However due to its lack of accessibility in deprived, poorer, underdeveloped countries it hasn’t been able to provide the consumer/creator with its full impact. This also means that the underdeveloped countries run the risk of staying underdeveloped and poor, whilst the other countries continue to develop and move forward in all ways possible. Perhaps then the focus of rich nations should be to try and assist those countries, as the continuously widening gap, may cause imminent problems.

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