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Internet Censorship_ Debate..

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Internet Censorship: Debate Continues Over Google and YouTube's Effe...


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Home » Writing & Publishing » Media Literacy » Internet Censorship

Internet Censorship
Debate Continues Over Google and YouTube's Effect on the Real World
© Jem Bloomfield Sep 2, 2007 Vint Cerf's recent claim that the Internet is a "reflection of the society we live in" is a dangerously simplistic approach to a complex question. Vint Cerf, Vice-President and “Chief Internet Evangelist” at Google, recently gave an interview in which he argued strongly against regulation of both Google and YouTube. When asked by the BBC’s John Humphries whether it would be appropriate to consider regulation in the light of recent concern over “gang videos” being posted on YouTube, he replied “when you have a problem in the mirror, you don’t fix the mirror, you fix that which is reflected in the mirror.” Whatever the rights and wrongs of Internet regulation, such a comparison dangerously misses the point.

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Content posted on the Internet is not simply a neutral “reflection of the society we live in”. One of the reasons Google has been so vastly successful is the Internet’s considerable impact on the way we live our lives. Sending photos to a family member on the other side of the world seems a pretty neutral act, but what about posting an item on eBay? eBay does not simply reflect the world by registering the various kinds of jumble hanging around its lofts and garages, it attempts to turn that jumble into a marketable commodity, and eventually to money. Communication is never motivated purely by a desire to convey information about the world, it is always an attempt to alter that world, even if only to make a few quid or re-establish an old friendship. Or to present the world with a slightly cooler and more impressive image of ourselves. Anything posted on the web has an intention behind it. Those intentions can sometimes go awry: employees who post material about last weekend’s antics on Facebook may find it being accessed by bosses who disagree about what kind of photos show their subjects in a positive and sympathetic light. On the more serious issue of “gang video clips”, posting material on the Internet is surely not providing gangs with many communication opportunities they would not otherwise have. However, it is an opportunity to develop and present a group image which could possibly have an impact on other gangs, and affect events in the real world. An Internet posting in this case is an act of aggression, an attempt to project power and dominance. Whether regulation of YouTube is a right or viable alternative, it is either misguided or disingenuous to pretend that it gives a neutral reflection of the world outside it. The Internet may be many things – a video camera, a mixing desk, a plastic surgeon’s operating table, or a bill-board. But it is certainly not a mirror. The copyright of the article Internet Censorship in Media Literacy is owned by Jem Bloomfield. Permission to republish Internet Censorship in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.

google and censorship youtube vint cerf facebook ebay
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Internet Censorship: Debate Continues Over Google and YouTube's Effe...


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