“Everything is fine, love your government.”
This article will take you through a journey of how government can intervene on media and exploit your personal information. How can a government impose censorship on the media to limit the right of expression? And what motivates them to do so?
Media Censorship and Propaganda
In the ideology, media supposed to be independent of any kinds of power holders in order to act as the medium to be a watchdog, transparent sector and serving the common public benefit. However, nowadays not everything we see on the media is the truth since most of the case media were intervened by the government. There are many ways that a government can use the power to intervene in media to benefit their side. To illustrate, to communicate disinformation, a government communicates inaccurate information or conceal something to influence their public perception and mindset. The examples of these practice are the use of propaganda and censorship.
According to the definition of the Cambridge dictionary, propaganda is the use of any kinds of media often only giving one part of an argument to published spread with the intention of influencing people’s opinions. There are many types of propaganda used to shape public opinion. There are many types of propaganda, however, we have chosen four interesting types. The first one is “Bandwagon”. Bandwagon propaganda aims at persuading people to do a certain thing by using the argument that you should follow us just because many other people are also doing it. The example of Bandwagon is what Donald Trump uses during his rallies. He has said. “I only wish these cameras would spin around and show the kind of people that we have here; the numbers of people that we have. I just wish they’d for once do it.” This argument he claims that because there are many people come to support him, you should support him as well.
Second type of propaganda is called “appeal to fear”. It is a fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for an idea by attempting to increase fear towards an alternative. The appeal to fear is common in marketing and politics. The idea is to present a dreaded circumstance and usually follow it up with the kind of behavior needed to avoid that horrible event. Another type of propaganda is “Emotional”. It is meant to generate positive feelings in the minds of the masses. For instance, many propaganda posters were positive in nature. They encouraged civilians to join the military, promising adventure and glory to those who did to attach people to be part of them.
In addition, there are some theories in the class that related to the using of “propaganda”. To illustrates, the theory of Hypodermic Needle effect. This theory suggests that audiences are passive and drugged by media. An intended message is directly received and wholly accepted by the receiver. As well as, the theory of Marxism. The concept claimed that the power of media is in the hand of those who have power. Example of how the government (power holder) owns the media is TNEWS, Nation Peace Security programs. These are the television broadcasting program owned by the government.
Apart from the theory related to propaganda, we have more example of propaganda case study provided for enhancing the understanding of the readers. During World War II, the Nazis were especially effective at harnessing the power of propaganda. Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels produced many propaganda films aiming to demonize the Jews in the minds of Germans. Political signs are also an example of propaganda. These promote one candidate and his views over others in the race. Political candidate produces the content of propaganda. Any kind of public service announcements about a better life, better development in a country can be considered propaganda.
First of all, according to the Oxford dictionary, censorship means the suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security. However, the use of censorship is like a double-edged sword which can create benefit and harm people simultaneously.
People can choose what kind of content they want to consume and feel free to express their point of views on any topic they preferred to. Meanwhile, as media becomes more independent, it can freely create content in a way that they want to deliver to the audiences as well. For analysis, here are the pros and cons of the use of censorship
Advantages of censorship
1.It strengthens national security
Imagine what if your country has been hacked by the terrorist, how would you feel or live? Would you live in peace or fear? I think we all know the answer and as talking about the advantage of censorship, internet censorship can block all the sensitive information of government or the country that might leak to other countries or terrorist that want to harm that country. This keeps the information safe and away from stealing or hacking. You can refer to this video below as an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPAvg6CU6sI
2. It lessens criminal activities
The news that you see as usual like hacking into a personal bank account which can happen to whoever including yourself. Identity theft is when someone steals your online personal information for doing criminals such as fake tax returns or to rent/buy the properties which is one of the fastest of the growing crimes in today world. Which the report says that a lot of people have been the victims of identity theft and if there is some restriction on identity information, it would lessen this activity. Censorship can help prevent all of these crimes because it keeps the information safe and can suspicious activities.
3.It protects children from things that should not be seen or done
If you have younger siblings, would you want them to see inappropriate things or violence things? Nowadays, children can easily access the internet by themselves whenever they want for academics and entertainment. And children might accidentally access to pornography or violent or other harmful content that they should not see or know about yet. By using censorship can help to prevent them from accessing inappropriate content that they might be unaware of due to an inexperienced judgment.
4.It stops false advertisements and fake news
Some companies want to hard sell their product by providing outer properties and use of the products resulting in us getting disinformation and can be trapped to buy the product just because of the false advertisement. Also, fake news is so viral nowadays, people are easy to believe the news that they want to see and when the readers click to read the fake news. Censorship can play an important role to help us, the consumers, to avoid false and fake things.
Disadvantages of censorship
However, referring back to the article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right, it explains that we all have rights to freedom of speech and expression without interference, which is the opposite side to the use of censorship. Does this mean our rights are being invaded? What if censorship is being used for exploitation? What if someone is trying to get benefit from it?
1. Our rights are exploited
Some countries might have the freedom to express their thought without interference from the government or other authorities. Unfortunately, not every country have a chance to exercise on their freedom to report what they see and say what they think. Even though the trend of human rights and a free press are booming nowadays, but still, people are staying under the control of the governments of their countries. In what range of freedom they can get depending on the governments.
2. Government use censorship to hide pertinent information
In some countries, government intervention occurs when it attempts to censor media on a particular issue that is considered as “vulnerable” to the government by imposing legitimate action or “laws”. The government claims to use censorship for remaining peace, preventing conflict among society, eliminating a false rumor that potentially creates a misunderstanding on a certain topic (destroying the government’s reputation is one of them.) Eventually, the use of censorship starts to interfere with the media in a way that benefit only the government itself.
“The government uses censorship as a weapon to protect its position while harming the rights of the citizen to freedom of speech and expression.”
3. It violates the owner’s online content
According to the Google transparency report from 2016-2017, it shows that in Thailand, there were 316 contents had been requested to delete by the Thai government for the reason of criticizing the government. Speaking from this, everyone should have rights to share what they think; there should be a space for an argument or opposition of ideas.
For Thailand, censorship has been applied in various kind of regulations and laws. The well-known law that Thai people often faced is the Computer-related Crimes Act; CCA. It controls actions that happen in a computer which also includes social media. Here is what it says in CCA section 14(1) “if any person commits any offense that involves import to a computer system of forged computer data, either in whole or in part, or false computer data, in a manner that is likely to cause damage to that third party or the public.”.
The government uses CCA to ban and charge statement that prones to against the idea and reputation of the government. For example, Pichai Naripthaphan, a former ministry of Energy, was charged for breaking CCA section 14 by criticizing economy during the era of the current government in his personal Facebook account, which considered as a threat that potentially creates a false rumor to other people to turn themselves against the government. He had been sent to jail for 7 days and the attitude adjustment for 9 times. It is like all of our content or words are under airport immigration, the content that is considered as a threat to the government will not be allowed to pass the gate; only the good one will get a chance to go inside the country and spread to people.
Exploitation on media
As you have noticed that there are many means that allows a government to interfere on media whether it be enforcing a law such as censorship or involving in media itself by taking ownership. In this part, it will address how a government exploits information on media and make the use of it. Such as, how a political party can gain popularity from the crowds by simply managing the right information to the right target. You will also be surprised how your personal information on social media can be easily accessed by your (lovely) government and whoever wants to exploit them.
In the U.S. previous election, many people suspected that there was something going on beneath Donald Trump’s triumph. There was something that used as a tool to gain leverage over his opponent, and that is when people started to be aware of “Cambridge Analytica”, a private corporation that sells information or “big data” of social media users.
Before moving to “Cambridge Analytica”, let’s first understand the concept of a semantic web. A semantic web, in a simple term, it allows your information to be shared through different platforms on social media. For example, you are looking for a cat so you search it on google, however, when you are on Facebook there are many commercials and content related to “a cat”. That is not a coincidence, your information has been shared from one platform to another platform – and that is how a semantic web works.
Cambridge Analytica uses a similar concept to cultivate your information. What they do is they develop a quiz or game on Facebook and use them to be the gate accessing user’s information. If you think you’ll be alright because you do not play a quiz or game on FB anymore, well, you are wrong. Even though you’ll be very careful, your information can be accessed if your friend plays it. Usually, Facebook has to curate a quiz or game before letting on on its platform to ensure that it won’t infringe its users. However, in this case, Facebook has been under investigated for allowing apps, games, quizzes developed by Cambridge Analytica be on their platform.
Now the question is how a government can exploit this information. Well, the information that a government has in their hands are powerful resources. This data can provide both demographic such as age, gender, location, and psychographic such as what you like/ don’t like, or what you tend to be sensitive or emotional. To exemplify, if a government wants to gain more popularity from youths to win the next election, they can simply look at what these people are interested in and then come up with a favorable policy. Nevertheless, they can track down data and prohibit some content that might be considered as a “threat” for a government.
You can argue that the use of information can also be in a way that it creates a positive impact on a whole society or a greater good. On the bright side, a government might use this information to implement a new policy in which it addresses people’s needs. However, the bottom line here is not “how” your information being used but whether your privacy has been “intruded” or not. You have a right to protect your information since it belongs to you. And without proper permission, no one should be able to access this information but you.
“More importantly, you have a right to be informed of “how” your information will be used and by “who”. “
C. (n.d.). PROPAGANDA | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. Retrieved March 30, 2019, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/propaganda
Censorship | Definition of censorship in English by Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/censorship
Trump campaign connection to Cambridge Analytica. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.msnbc.com/velshi-ruhle/watch/timeline-trump-campaign-connection-to-cambridge-analytica-1190485571663
Wong, J. (2019). Facebook acknowledges concerns over Cambridge Analytica emerged earlier than reported. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/21/facebook-knew-of-cambridge-analytica-data-misuse-earlier-than-reported-court-filing
What is Semantic Web? – Definition from Techopedia. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/27961/semantic-web
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/
What is Freedom of Opinion and Expression? | Icelandic Human Rights Centre. Retrieved from http://www.humanrights.is/en/human-rights-education-project/comparative-analysis-of-selected-case-law-achpr-iachr-echr-hrc/the-right-to-freedom-of-opinion-and-expression/what-is-freedom-of-opinion-and-expression
11 Biggest Pros and Cons of Censorship. (2019). Retrieved from https://futureofworking.com/11-biggest-pros-and-cons-of-censorship/
ถูกเรียกครั้งที่ 11 ‘คสช.’ แจ้งความ ‘พิชัย’ ผิด พ.ร.บ.คอมฯ ย้ำ ‘เพื่อไทย’ เป็น รบ. แก้ ก.ม.นี้แน่ | ประชาไท Prachatai.com. (2018). Retrieved from https://prachatai.com/journal/2018/08/78078