Mass Government Surveillance Is Chilling To Online Dissent

from co.exist

We act differently when we know we’re being watched, and that includes adapting our online behavior because we know that the government is tracking our every move. If you’ve ever changed what you were about to write in a forum post, or censored a tweet because you thought it might get picked up by the NSA, you already know that this is true.

Self-censorship is particularly dangerous, because it can silence minority opinions, says a new research paper by Wayne State University journalism professor Elizabeth Stoycheff. It can lead, she says, to a “spiral of silence,” wherein “individuals, motivated by fear of isolation, continuously monitor their environments to assess whether their beliefs align with or contradict majority opinion.”

The Internet allows more views and beliefs to be heard than ever before on Facebook and other social sites. Often, these large, diverse online networks offer a more accurate picture of majority opinion than our close-knit but less diverse real-life relationships, which seems to be a good thing. The problem is that this majority “opinion climate” can dominate, suppressing minority views.

More here.

Posted in Privacy, Technology and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. I agree people in this day and age are more inclined to be saying things online, behind their own closed doors, than ever before as the article suggests. So, if we know that people are afraid of people finding out their information or being watched then why don’t we just change the system. I’m talking about the system where we vote for elections and make decisions. We have to make it so that people are more inclined to give their truthful answer instead of a swayed decision. Then, possibly Trump wouldn’t have become elected since it seems now people are pretty unhappy at what has been transpiring since the election. A system where people remain anonymous and they can remain in their own comfort instead of going into your local municipal building where they might feel some discomfort. I know I personally hate going into the booth since it makes me all uptight and we can’t have that happening to people if they are supposed to give their truth. This system we should be able to access from the comfort of our own home so that people can do the voting on their own terms. Obviously, we should make it a secure system so that votes couldn’t be altered but it also makes sure that people can’t make duplicates of a certain vote. It will make collecting the results a lot quicker since it will already be in the system online so we can easily access the data. From this new system I believe that we would be able to get more truthful answers and reliable results than we have seen before.

    In today’s world I think that people are a little less apprehensive when it comes to talking about important topics. Before people would be watching what they said because the government may have been watching them but also because they felt as though it was not normalized to have these comments. In the article they talked about how the spiral of silence was very prevalent when it came to speaking about critical and controversial topics. The spiral of silence is when you are within a group or a member of something and you feel that the group is going one direction with something or in this case they are choosing not to speak about a topic so you feel pressured into staying silent and you go along with what the rest of the group is saying. The spiral of silence is very dangerous and I feel as though in today’s times people are staying away from the stigma that the spiral of silence brings. Michael Papotto, a commenter of the article, stated that “Social media outlets are praised for giving people the ability to put their beliefs out.” This just goes to show that others are noticing the shift on not only the internet itself, but social media platforms are allowing others to feel as though they do not have to remain silent or important topics. They no longer feel as though they are being watched or that they now see that others are speaking out and not staying silent and that gives them the courage to do the same. In the end of the article it becomes clear that they feel as though the government has restricted our freedom of speech, and maybe in the past they have, but I honestly feel as though if they are still trying to restrict our speech, I think that they are doing a bad job, because we are prevailing and our keeping our voice.

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