“what might have you not seen” – censorship

Within the evolution of digital media the concept of censorship has become a widely discussed topic across the world as new social media platforms find balance between protecting users from sensitive content such as pornography vs limiting users ability to have a sense of free speech. In the modern technological era, Censorship can come from both governments and private organisations who control the major media outlets used as a way of global communication. 

There are growing concerns that censorship is diminishing the media’s ability to provide information as large media outlets prevent the spreading of media that does not align with their moral standards. With most media platforms being used globally and often by people who do not live in the base country of the platforms, conflict between what kind of censorship is morally acceptable has evolved, specially highlighted by the strict censorship undertaken on the Chinese platform tik tok where users are finding content that they would consider acceptable to be removed from the site (Hern 2019)

Censorship can have a large impact on the ease for political transactions to occur and this has been particularly present in Digital Asia. As an countries’ ability to have democratic society is highly influenced by the media’s ability to convey messages from numerous views. The overuse of censorship has been found to diminish the ability of individuals to have these political transactions on an online space (Athique 2019). 

A clear example of how this has occurred is with the “platformization of sociability” which has occurred through the spreading and saturation of “political clickbait”(Athique 2019). This refers to the idea of producing a substantial amount of content showcasing political viewpoints in an attempt to decrease the other point of view’s ability to gain traction on digital platforms as the channels have been overcrowded (Frampton 2015). 

Carson and Fallon (2021) have found that the use of clickbait has had significant political impacts as misinformation can be easily spread all with the intent to create confusion and take away the validity of credible news sources that are producing quality content. As ‘fake news’ is often more entertaining, it is therefore able to gain higher views on digital platforms, this creates a form of censorship as the fake articles are gaining more traction than the real articles (Information Society Project, 2017). Providing media companies with a method to censor information as people’s attention is being strategically diverted away (Information Society Project, 2017). 

Image / WordPress (Porter Novelli)

In the context of Digital Asia the ability of undertaking political transactions has become increasingly difficult due the introduction of repressive actions such as the use of Troll Armies where large followings of people threaten, harass and bully those with opposing views (Athique 2019). In order to attempt to suppress political transactions, people have gone to “weaponizing social media platforms” in an attempt to take down competing political opponents (Gilbert 2019). As in India, where troll armies were used to silence journalists speaking out against extremists by using their following to harass the figures into silence (Deccan Herald 2018). The ability to reach mass audiences via digital platforms has been a large contributor to these establishing issues with censorship and political transactions.

Image / Guardian (Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges)

Hern, A. (2019). Revealed: how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/25/revealed-how-tiktok-censors-videos-that-do-not-please-beijing [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

‌Vice.com. (2019). Modi’s trolls are ready to wreak havoc on India’s marathon election. [online] Available at: https://www.vice.com/en/article/597mwk/modis-trolls-are-ready-to-wreak-havoc-on-indias-marathon-election [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

‌La Trobe, 2019, FIGHTING FAKE NEWS, La Trobe University, Available at: https://www.latrobe.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/1203553/carson-fake-news.pdf.

‌Fighting Fake News Workshop Report hosted by The Information Society Project The Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression, 2017, Yale Law of School, [online] . Available at: https://law.yale.edu/sites/default/files/area/center/isp/documents/fighting_fake_news_-_workshop_report.pdf.

‌Frampton, B. (2015). Clickbait: The changing face of online journalism. [online] BBC News. Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-34213693 [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

‌Deccan Hearld (2018). Press freedom rank: “Modi’s troll army” takes India down. [online] Deccan Herald. Available at: https://www.deccanherald.com/international/trump-russia-and-china-media-attacks-threaten-democracy-666528.html [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

Athique 2019, Digital Transactions in Asia, . (pp. 236) edited by Adrian Athique and Emma Baulch. New York, NY United States: Routledge

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