Within the past year, the revolution of social media and the faster dissemination of news and information, combined with the growing use of mobile phones to stream live video, have dramatically increased citizen journalism and the spread of open information. March 12 marked the annual World Day against Cyber-Censorship, intended to rally the world in support of a single Internet accessible to all.
By creating new spaces for exchanging ideas and information, the Internet can be a force for freedom. In countries where the traditional media are controlled by the government, the only independent news and information are to be found on the Internet, which has become a forum for discussion and a refuge for those who want to express their views freely.
Connected Nation agrees that the Internet is one of the most powerful instruments of the twenty-first century for increasing government transparency, access to information, and for facilitating active citizen participation in society. Connected Nation research indicates that 52% of Americans read online newspapers or other news sources, and 24% interact with government officials or elected officials; if extrapolated to the entire U.S., that represents approximately 122 million Americans who get their news from the Internet and more than 56 million Americans who use the Internet to interact with government offices or elected officials. Indeed, in 2011, the United Nations declared access to the Internet as a basic human right, associated with the rights to a free opinion and expression. The United Nations sees the Internet as a pivotal tool in economic and social development, driving positive changes to meet education, poverty, health, and human rights goals.
How do you use broadband to keep abreast of what’s going on around the world? Are recent examples of social media campaigns that target global issues (like Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” campaign) a good way to raise awareness or just an example of “clicktivism” that makes people feel good without affecting any real change? Let us know in the Comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter.