El mundo de el Internet afuera de los Estados Unidos

The population of the world right now is about 7,115,393,380 and the population in the US is about 315, 816,000. This means that there are about 6 billion people living outside the US. According to the article from USA Today about 80% of the world’s population uses the Internet.

Every country is different and not every country is a fan of Facebook, like Brazil and Russia. Social media is all over the world and some countries do not use it for the same purposes as America.

 I remember when I moved to the US I was always getting e-mails on Hi5 from my friends in Mexico, and I never knew what it was, I only knew what MySpace and Facebook were. I also remember that I came here using the website Photolog. All of my friends were using this website but no one in the US knew it, because they were using MySpace. Did you ever use another website aside from MySpace or Facebook when you were young?

 In class we talked about how in Africa the people are using the Internet and mobile phones in different ways than here in America. Having a cellphone for an African person is more of a necessity than a luxury.

 They use their phones for banking, activism, education, entertainment, disaster management, agriculture, and health. It actually reminded me of Mexico- mobile phones have become a necessity there instead of a luxury. Even though people in the United States use their phones similarly, like for mobile banking, it’s more for convenience than necessity. Infrastructures in the major cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara are more maintained, but when you are in the rural areas, simple amenities like banking and access to a doctor become more difficult. Using mobile phones, similarly to how they are used in Africa, allows for people further from the cities to be more connected and in control of their lives than they would be otherwise.  Do you think it is positive that most of their lives depend on their mobile phones?

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Another way that mobile phones and social media have been used is for activism. During the Tunisian and the Egyptian revolutions social media played a major role.  People were taking pictures, and videos of the riots and putting them on public social medias like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and blogs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIev3MCuypk

The use of social media was so big during the revolutions that President Mubarak cracked down on the media, and consequently took down the Internet too.

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Social media is the new way to communicate with the world. If a revolution sparks in a small town in South America the world will know about it in minutes because for some people the first thing they think to do when a big event happens is to put it on Facebook or Twitter.

The same thing happened with the bombings at the Boston Marathon this past month. Minutes after the bombs exploded there were tweets about it.

 Social Media outside the United States is as big as here even though in some countries the internet is used for other things, like instead of updating your status about how you did on your finals someone in Africa is probably texting the number of his medicine pills to make sure they are legitimate.

 

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The Great WiFi Hope (get it?! “The Great White Hope” …. Wifi Hope …. forget it)

Please forgive my relative lateness to this blog post party, I posted this accidentally to my blog and not the class blog.

The great hope of the Internet is the exchange of information free from geopolitical borders. But as Palfrey remarks in “Four Phases of Internet Regulation” that dream is far from realized. In the time of Palfrey’s “Open Internet” (1960s – 2000) there was a free sharing of information and ideas, but there were major barriers that got in the way. When the Internet was created computers were expensive and required specialized knowledge to use them, meaning only government and university systems were tied in. The flow of information was free, but access was far from universal.

Today access is nearing universality but the flow of information is no longer free. Phones with a data plan can be bought at the nearest 7-11, WiFi can be accessed for free on a $100 used iPod at a coffee shop.  While at the same time, top search results can be bought, governments can block services, and DMCA takedowns happen without challenge.

Is the hope of a free internet dead? One bit of proof that the Internet is still free is the Flash Mob. Improveverywhere.com is all about the free sharing of ideas. Although many (me too!) find Improv Everywhere annoying and childish it is a testament to the freedom of the Internet that groups of complete strangers can pull off some amazing pranks, scenes, etc.

There is more to do in a free Internet than be silly though. Internet communication as a form of free speech is a powerful tool (although limited at times by government and social control). It gives fringe candidates a chance to take the spotlight. Ron Paul is a former Texas Representative who in 2008 ran for President on a platform of limited government base on a strict interpretation of the US Constitution. Not exactly a mainstream candidate. He had a secret weapon though. The Internet and a grassroots campaign made Paul a viable candidate who joined the big time and was even invited to the televised debates. If the Internet were not somewhat free this could never happen. The current political power players would move to stop fringe candidates and movements. This could all change though.

Is the Internet inherently free by design, or is it free by the grace of its users and government regulation/unregulation?

If the Internet is free, do you think it will stay that way?

If the Internet is not free, do you think it can be?

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To Censor or Not to Censor

The Internet is filled with all different kinds of content. Whether it be a social media page, a blog or a website there is bound to be racist, offensive and inappropriate content within these pages. According to one of our articles, The Slippery Slope of Facebook Regulation, David Glance recounts a Facebook page controversy in which offensive content is blown so far out of proportion that it is requested to be taken down by policymakers and others of importance. The page ends up being taken down on the grounds that

 

The article also makes the argument that should this post have been taken down? I mean, it is freedom of speech. This is the argument I would like to focus on.

 

I believe this page should not have been taken down. In using other examples, the watchers and users on YouTube, another popular social networking site, can be so rude! The trolls comment on how fat the person in the video they are watching is and comment on how crappy of a singer the person is. YouTube gives you the option to disable your comments just as Facebook gives you the power to block a page. In the case of the article, people who found the page offensive could block it, or simply not visit it. The Internet should be able to be used freely just as people are allowed to express their feelings and beliefs in public.

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At the same time, I can also see where the article is coming from, according to our civil rights, our constitution defines a hate crime as “a traditional offense like murder, arson or vandalism with an added element of bias” or “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”

 

Therefore, is our Internet behavior parallel to that of our face-to-face daily lives? Are our norms the same in both realities? According to Karl Allen Whemhoener who wrote a graduate thesis on this topic, believes it is the norms of our society that make this determination so difficult. The Internet is too new, and our constitution far too old to understand the norms of each.

 Do we want our free Internet to be bombarded by regulations galore? I surely don’t wish for this. The internet is made up of all independent

networks plugged in to this free space, and based on that foundation has people interacting in public forums about certain topics that can make people uncomfortable, that doesn’t mean they have to take part in these discussions. Everyone shares their beliefs online is it really that big of a crime? However, making it’s own regulation up to the company, website or hosts discretion does seem like a fair trade. After all, what is a world without some rules?

 Basically, the point I am trying to make is that even though there are crimes in the real world that are considered illegal and offensive, but most involve defacing private property and belongings. Is writing something foul on the Internet considered vandalizing the offended persons belongings? Especially when NO ONE owns the Internet. When I hear Internet, I hear “let freedom ring.”

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This week our class discussed regulating the internet.

This week our class discussed regulating the internet. Obviously there are pros and cons of regulating the internet. My question is, do they pros outweigh the cons?

 

First I’ll start with a some Pro’s of regulating the internet:

Terrorism, child pornography, human trafficking and hate crimes; (no they’re not pros) regulating the internet wouldn’t prevent such acts, though the internet is a large medium in which people spread such negativity.  With access to limitless information, we receive the good and the bad. From the beginning of the semester we’ve learned that technology is just a medium through which people put their ideas. With regulation, we may be able to rid negative things which anger us or cause harm on the internet. What about divided issues like homosexuality? Just because it offends some, everything related to it must be taken off the internet? 

        Internet fraud could be prevented with the regulation of the internet. No longer would businesses and individuals have to worry about those fake emails promising millions. Just the other day I found an e-mail from pay pal confirming a purchase of a white gold men’s watch which would be sent to me within the next week. The e-mail looked exactly like a confirmation e-mail which pay pal would send complete with the logo and purchase information. I called pay pal and they instructed me to forward the e-mail so they could take “legal” action against the e-mail sender. Another example of internet fraud can happen within online dating services, Catfish anyone? People build close, intimate relationships, ask for money and mysteriously disappear.. hmm. 

Okay, what about some cons?

Personally, I can think many many cons. The first is, the flow of information would be restricted. Where else would we learn random facts like this:

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… from a library? Ha. No longer would we have the same freedom to spread ideas and communicate. 

Of course, those are only a couple of pros and cons..

What are some other pros and cons which come from regulating the internet?

And do the pros outweigh the cons of internet regulation?

 

 

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Me, Myself, and Self-Regulation

When I think back to the first few days of class and starting up my first Twitter account, I vividly remember how aware I was of what I was posting. I wouldn’t allow myself to type anything vulgar or make statements that I wouldn’t want my grandmother to see someday. I self regulated my posts, and while I think I’m still going strong with that self discipline, users of other social media certainly are not.

Simon Waldman’s article “Harmful Content on the Internet: Self-Regulation is the Best Way Forward,” makes his best point merely in the title. But, in addition to his arguments, I would like to ask the question, “Best for whom?” Like the author said, regulation is not easy. Despite the amount of effort it takes, self-regulation benefits the social networking sites as much as it benefits the users.

Take Facebook for example, if its users strictly monitored their own behavior there would be little to no need for the “Report” button. Clearly this is not the case. Facebook’s initiative to regulate content on the site keeps it a clean and enjoyable environment for its users. Conversely, a site that has neither the regulation of the service nor that of the users can quickly become a hostile environment. I often hear stories from friends about sites they call “the sewer of the Internet.” I’ve never seen them, but that’s based solely on fact that no one is self-regulating anything on those sites.

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Think about it like a business, if careful monitoring and regulation are utilized in a site, the interference of government becomes less likely. Similarly, if users self regulate their posts then there will be less of a need for the site to do it for them. Nobody wants to be told what to do, but like Waldman said, it’s not always the content that defies the terms of service that makes us want to exit the site. Only the user can truly regulate this content. Additionally, Waldman makes a strong point when he states, “the ‘dark side’ of the internet is actually the ‘dark side’ of society.” Despite all efforts, there will still be a “dark side.” Whether it is in society or the Internet, it is still there.

If I had to offer up my own personal information to encourage self-regulating activity on the Internet, it would be to enhance the education of proper use. That is, like everything else in life, we need to learn about it before we use it. Also, considering the possible negative consequences of no self-regulation may encourage people to think twice before making a post. Again, like the author said, we should not simply wait around until something terrible happens on the Internet.

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The Internet, when self regulated, can be an awesome thing. So here are a few questions for you to think about. Would you trust yourself to monitor and regulate your own content? How about the content of others? Or are you like me and think that we can trust ourselves but not totally everyone else?

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