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Can social media challenge the power of non-democratic


Social media provide opportunities which people show and discuss
individual opinions via the Internet, and it sometimes gives enormous
impact to political like the Arab spring. Therefore, the thinking which
social media might be hope for people who are under terrible
situation is increasing. However, problems especially political
problems are not simple, and leaders in states also know better than
to leave own nations conversations on social media completely
(Morozov 2011). On this essay, present conditions of social media in
North Korea, China, and democratic countries are discussed, and how
social media worked in the Arab Spring is also mentioned.

Social media in nations

After spreading the Internet, social media takes roots in peoples life.
Social media could provide various information and also allow people
to transmit opinion, and some people think social media is a tool of
enforcement of morality in the world. In addition, governments
propagandas or the truth about the horrors of governments are
discovered by nations via the Internet, and the developments of social
media such as Twitter allow people speak without any barriers, but it
also means that political system becomes unstable (Morozov, 2011).
Furthermore, a lot of people expect that the development of the
Internet lead people liberal in the global fight for freedom (ibid).
According to Howard, people usually do not use information devices
for political purposes, but when people face to some military or
political crisis, people start to use that for gather and provide
information about them to share their relatives or friends (Howard,
2011). Therefore, the Arab Spring happened from 2010. Social media
gather people who want to defeat own political system without any
specific leader, and the point is a big different previous revolution
such as Irans revolution which led by Imam Khomeini from 1978-
1999 because almost all of the movements in the Arab Spring was
headless revolutions (Jamali, 2014). Even though not every people did
not think that the movements were occurred by information
technology, it is difficult to deny the influence of the Internet and
mobile phones to the political consequences (Howard, 2011). For
example, not only information about the illegal operation of a voting
result but also police abuse and government corruption were spread
through digital media over social networks, and it pushed people set
up the protest on the street in Iran in 2009 and the Arab Spring of
2011(ibid). Although social media is just kind of tool of online
communication, it started to be considered as the tool led political
revolutions. However, do not governments just move and watchfully
wait movements of nations on social media?

Using Social Media by politicians

According to Christensen, the state of Sweden (part of the Swedish
Foreign Ministry) mentioned that social media might be crucial for
countries which battle for freedom of speech and democratic changes
in developing countries, though there is not enough evidence
(Christensen, 2011). In addition, social media could bring that nation
will be more interested in politics (Vaccari and Valeriani, 2015). It
could be said that social media could reduce the gap between nations
and states, for example, many famous politicians have Twitter
accounts such as Barack Obama, Boris Johnson or Shinzo Abe, and a
lot of Twitter users might encounter some political information without
deliberately seeking, and Obama was planning to use Twitter as a tool
which connects between own and nations. In addition, one of the
purposes which politicians have a twitter account is that sharing
political information on social media might increase the political
concern of nations include nations who are less interested in politics
(Vaccari and Valeriani, 2015). Vaccari and Valeriani concerned that
social media might be helpful to reinvigorate political processes, but
the connection between social media and technology move to
unpredictable way as well (ibid). In addition, the impact of Facebook
might admit of no doubt. Although Facebook is a still relatively recent
phenomenon, a recent Pew survey indicated information that about
one- one-third of young people aged 1829 used SNSs for political
purposes (Lenhart et al. 2010 cited in Jos, 2012). However, the
discussions of Facebook political groups about political affairs are
consisted by false statements and half-truths (Feezell et al. 2009 cited
in Jos, 2012) because such political groups are organized people
have different knowledge level (Jos, 2012). Even though some of the
discussions lack of reliability, social media can be a powerful tool for
nations when they assert about their strong political opinion (ibid).
However, social media is also being used as political purposes, and
government manipulates nations by social media much easier than
before. Morozov pointed out that political propagandas demonstrate
effectively on social media, and propaganda based on lies and
international misrepresentation of facts also works because the larger
the story such as Obamas missing birth certification or the mystery
of 9/11, it is more difficult to find evidence for nations (Morozov,
p116). In addition, almost all people might believe what government
said because people tend to accept information from authorities as
true without question, except people who have doubts about
governments. Social media and information devices also let
governments grasp about own nations in minute detail. Governments
could monitor what nations say on social media and what kind of
information they search on the Internet, and government also could
analyse specific person from information collected from there. In
addition, if people always bring a mobile phone, it allows government
trace them (Morozov, 2011). Interestingly, social media seem to
reinforce our freedom of speech, and people might think that social
media is the tool of liberal, but the more people rely on social media,
it also means that the possibility which governments manipulate own
nations increase.

Social media in North Korea

North Korea is one of the significant examples of countries which are
in a totalitarian state. The control over information by the state is
considered as crucial for surviving (Bruce, 2012). According to
Altenberger, the KCNA(Korean Central News Agency) is using Internet
platforms and social media as tools of statecraft and foreign policy. In
addition, there is not exactly the percentage of Internet penetration in
North Korea, but Freedom House reported that only few North Koreans
are allowed to use the Internet (Freedom House, as cited in
Altenberger, 2014). Furthermore, watching or listening unauthorized
foreign programs is illegal and whenever people commit the crime,
serious punishment will be executed (Freedom House, as cited in
Altenberger, 2014). Even though almost all nations do not have a
right which accesses to the Internet, the governments in North Korea
have a kind of barrier which prevents foreign information to enter
there. Compare to China, North Koreas case much stronger, but North
Koreas policy might be a certain way to protect the own political
system. The ban on accessing the Internet from beginning and every
information provided from the government can control the nations
easily because it means that there is basically no way to know about
any information. In so far as North Korea. Social media cannot get a
chance to challenge because social media is almost but not
completely extinct there.

On the other hand, the state in North Korea is showing a movement

of liberalization of information technology from around the last
decade (Mansourov, as cited in Warf, 2014). Even though the state
shows the positive movement, the main purpose might be that
information technology adopts for military use. Frequent cyber
attacks by North Korea against South Korea and the United Nations
are reported (Sang-Hun, as cited in Warf, 2014). However, the
liberalization of information technology also brings attacks from
anonymous, for example, cyber attack to North Korea page on DPRK
website and the state-owned airline Air Koryo (Clarke & Knake, as
cited in Warf, 2014). The state in North Korea might continue to the
advancement of information technology to confront countries which
are considered as enemies, and it is difficult to predict whether social
media will spread throughout the advancement. However, if the
nations can use social media, the state will increase more alarm and
control the nations.

Social media in China

China is also one of the Communist countries in the world, and it is a
famous story that strict censorship is established. Heavy censorship is
set up and monitored by the ruling partys propaganda department in
the Chinese media system (Jiang, 2014). Even though the Chinese
government is controlling mainstream of media, every Chinese is
basically allowed to use the Internet and find free space in there.
However, limitation what extent nations can speak in social media is
set by the state. It is impossible to access to Facebook. Tweeter,
YouTube, and Google in China, but there are a lot of social networking
services in China instead of these things. It is a big difference
between China and countries which brew the Arab Spring. If
authorities ban access to the Internet, it may just increase the
frustration of nations. Therefore, Chinese government provides social
medias created to monitor and control easily by myself, and it may
also fulfill the nations desire to social media. However, the control of
social media on the Internet might be more difficult than that of
conventional mass media. Conventional mass media such as TV or
radio provide only unidirectional communication, but communication
on the Internet allows people make multidirectional communication
(Tang and Sampson, 2012). In addition, the state may consider the
power of the enormous number of microbloggers as a tool of
dethroning of corruption politicians in China. According to Hassid, the
central government desire to use the Internet as monitor and control
of the local officials (Hassid, 2012). For example, journalist Zhong
Xiaoyong posted an article about the dangerous of the chemical
factory in Xiamen on his blog in March 2007, and 2000 people
protested the factory despite the local government tried to control the
article (Economy, as cited in Hassid, 2012). Hassid pointed out that
this movement was used for achievement of policy goal of central
government (Hassid, 2012), it could be said that nations can get
satisfaction from criticising authorities which are a target of purge for
central government and central government success to distract the
nation's attention from themselves to the others. Interestingly, social
media in China fix a kind of government corruption, but it was lead by
the central stats. Therefore, the Chinese government might use social
media for convenience.

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