Written By /Ike pius
Money is the Root of all Evil. This article examines how the Love of Money is killing off our last hope of Free Speech, Free Expression, and Free Association- The Internet.
Human Beings have an inherent need to communicate. This encompasses the need to share thoughts, ideas, thrills, moments of joy and pain, and the desire to educate, as well as inform others about events happenings around us.
Information, when shared rapidly and massively has often caused people to take action, to join political movements, to press for change, to resist, to take up arms, to topple oppressive governments, even to commit genocide.And whose job is it to spread information?
Newspapers, including flyers, posters, and pamphlets and whatever other forms may exist today , Radio Stations, Television , Cinema Houses are some forms that the Media can take.
No doubt the media is a powerful and fearsome force. Governments have continued to fear it from the beginning of time up till today . This fear has made governments put a leash on the media in the past, and a muzzle on it in the present. In many countries government owned media houses spew state controlled propaganda to keep their people obedient or at least more compliant.
By strict censorship, Governments filter news and current events programs thereby telling the People what they want the People to know: Election results, Public Affairs, Health Concerns, Security Threats, Government Policies and Economic Strategies. State controlled media also hide what they deem to be dangerous. But dangerous to who?
Everybody loses when Governments censor information. When information is censored by a stifled media it becomes too easy to get away with Murder of political opponents, Manipulation of Electoral Processes, Racism or Ethnic Bigotry, Corruption of Public officials, and even outright Murder by Uniform wearing men of Law Enforcement. It is for this reason that an alternative is greatly needed.
New Media-free-Social Media
New Media consists of Social Media Platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and most effectively Twitter. The thousands of Blogs offering timely information, candid opinion, and an open platform for creative independents must also not be overlooked. New Media offer the people a breath of fresh air. They can provide access to unfiltered News Events, draw attention to social issues, and spring people into action through Crowd Funding, and other forms of social mass action. Let us take a few examples of how New Media is effecting change.
The Shooting of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, by White police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014 was not reported by the CNN until August 13, 2014. Five days into the outcry that ensued. The #hashtags #handsupdontshoot and #ferguson started on twitter, and then permeated to other Social Media platforms like Facebook and Youtube. As a matter of Fact, the hashtag #ferguson has been used over (1) Twenty Seven Million, Two Hundred Thousand (27,200,000) times, and a related Hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has been used over Twelve Million (12,000,000) times, and has become an offline Political Movement, affecting the Electoral Process, as well as Political Discourse. These figures have been described as a Twitterstorm. That Twitterstorm resulted in a media frenzy, as mainstream media, who might not have been interested in the story at first tried to out-do each other in gallantry when reporting the incident. But it was too late. This story belonged to the internet. One Video (New Video from Micheal Brown Shooting death) Highlighting the #Ferguson incidence had been viewed 3,445,736 times and another (Michael Brown Autopsy: Experts Weigh In) has been viewed over 135,384 times, both on Youtube. There are numerous Videos like these offering different perspectives and insights into this incidence and others similar to it.
Media Launch Pad
Another Positive side to the New Media is that they give an opportunity to Creative Talents, even in some of most remote corners of the Earth. An Example is the Author from a small village in Nigeria whose e book has gone viral. ( Please search Bomber Boy: Rise of the Underwear Bomber ) One of the Talents that the Old Media would not have given a second look, maybe because they do not have the big budgets, or high level connections that are necessary to break into the World of Big Media.
All they have to do is post their content on Social Media and ask others to share. If the content is compelling enough and they have some luck on their side, they could go viral, and then have their content propel them to stardom. Having become internet sensations, the Traditional Media Establishment would then be forced to pay attention. Many have taken advantage of this, including Athletes, Singers, Bloggers, and Writers. But the internet has not just been about singing and dancing; it has helped reduce real suffering. How?
Crowdfunding : Good causes have not been left out of the New System of things; many grassroots charity organizations have been able to attract attention to their work, such that they are able to raise funding in order to continue their good work. Victims of Social Injustice have had activists as well as concerned individuals share their story and then raise funds to alleviate their sufferings, or take up legal action in order to seek redress.
But Then They Came
They- the Old Guard invaded Social Media like an Army and quickly tore down the wall of resistance not by force of arms, but by opening their wallets. Money answereth all things! One by one the Major Social Networking platforms capitulated to the power of the Dollar and the desire to post impressive figures as year end profits.
Facebook started putting up Sponsored Posts (2) without an option not to see these advertisements. They usually come in form of well crafted headlines with only a few words of the stories available on Facebook. Those few words would usually be enough to catch the reader's attention so as to make him click on the link taking him to the full article maybe on CNN- the same CNN some of us have been trying to get away from.
Another way facebook has caved in to the will of the Old Media is allowing them create pages and advertising that users 'like' said pages. They would them use a similar tactic as mentioned above in order to get your attention. Some found this action distasteful and so moved to a rival Social Media platform: Twitter.
But Twitter fell as well.
By its very design Twitter is a powerful information sharing tool. No wonder most of the World's Social Media Activism is done there. One only has to go back a few paragraphs to see how much impact Twiiter Hashtags have had on the World and how we relate to each other. All that may soon be over.
Twitter made changes such that when you log in to your account you no longer see posts from your friends and colleagues -with who you have formed a relationship which involves re-sharing (retweeting) each other's content, thereby increasing the chances of going viral- but instead you see posts from Top Influencers, Such as the BBC.
Furthermore, searching for any particular topic or Hashtag no longer brings up the latest posts which is content from fellow users, instead it brings up 'Top content' which are usually headlines posted by Media companies, sometimes up to a month before, and out-of-date.
Twitter does not stop there; many users including this writer regularly receive text messages from Twitter which is mostly News posted by the same Media people that we no longer trust. The text messages usually go like this: ''@MSNBC tweeted this... or @FoxNews tweeted that.''
The real Twitter users who actually make up the social aspect of Social Media have been relegated to the background, if not entirely forgotten.
R.I.P Dear Internet
Google adwords mean that the man with the fattest wallet, not best content goes to the top of search results, thereby getting all the attention and traffic. Attention and traffic equals huge profits for a successful advertising campaign which means that the rich get richer and the poor get pinned to the bottom of google.
You Tube puts the most popular videos on the top of its lists. These videos are made popular by views and likes they garner. Any search will show that apart from celebrities (who are backed by entertainment companies with huge money bags) many popular accounts on YouTube are owned by Corporate Media.
As a matter of fact, of the ten most subscribed channels on YouTube at least 6 are either partly or fully owned, or at least affiliated to, and possibly funded by Corporate Media and Entertainment interests.
This list (4) includes T-Series and Set India, (Indian Entertainment Companies) World Wrestling Entertainment W.W.E , and popular musicians Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber and Eminem.
As a hub of free expression, the internet is slowly dieing away. Everybody and everything is monetizing at a rate and in a manner that puts user experience second to profits. If this trend continues unabated then we would be handing a disaster to our children.
Just a Question before you go: What takes up your internet time, and what changes have you noticed in your favorite Social Networks?
About the Author :
Ike Pius is the Author of Bomber Boy: Rise of the Underwear Bomber. @ikepius is the handle by which he may be reached on twitter. For more stories by the Author go here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18517103-bomber-boy
1. These 10 Twitter Hashtags Changed the Way we Talk about Social Issues, by Tanya Sichynsky, The Washington Post, March 21, 2016.
2. Facebook Starts Displaying Ads inthe News Feed. ZDNet, January 10, 2012. by Protansky, Emil.
Sponsored Stories begin to appear in News Feed. Inside Facebook, January 10, 2012, by Darwell, Brittany.
3. Twitter will now put Recommended (Not Newest) Tweets At the Top of Your Timeline, by Lynley, Matthew, on TechCrunch, February 10, 2016.
4. YouTube: most subscribed Channels 2019 (c) Statista. pulled March 27, 2019.