There is an inherent fear that is associated with the freedom of media for authoritarian governments. This panic is being further enhanced by the constant development and evolving nature of digital media.
Defined by the suppression of media, the concept of censorship is a current issue that is being discussed on a global scale. Conversations are being had regarding the potential affects of limiting citizens free speech, government control over media, as well as political ongoings that are impacting citizens (Lorentzen 2013).
Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have widely protected users’ free speech, in accordance with the legal norms of a Western based organisation (Citron 2017). However, these terms and conditions are not relevant for those residing in countries that are living under the autocratic control of the information spread online by both private and public organisations.
For those living in countries under an authoritarian rule, the nature of censorship has experienced a transformation in the nature of, and the extent of which is required and allowed by social media platforms such as Tik Tok. Users are constantly experiencing shadow-banning as well as the removal of videos that by Western standards are in alignment with the moral standard of a social media application, creating this conflict regarding what is and isn’t morally acceptable for users globally.
There is an ongoing concern regarding the impact of censorship for individuals, and the media’s ability to produce content that accurately reflects the issues impacting citizens (Green & Karolides 2011). The idea of restricting what is being produced neglects to acknowledge issues in its entirety, as it often fails to align with the moral standards that have been set by the government to produce an intended message.
The occurrence of political transactions within the context of Digital Asia is impacted by the concept of censorship. As highlighted by Athique, the impact on a country’s ability to establish a democracy is affected by the nation’s capacity to obtain freedom of expression within the media, providing alternate views on any given topic (Athique 2019).
Censorship is an ongoing issue that has led to the establishment of a global conversation surrounding the decline in citizens’ quality of life. In recent times, the control of media production in India has led to conflict between citizens and the government through the implementation of troll armies (Athique 2019).
Defined as an institutionalised group of internet users that aim to interfere with political opinions and influence decision making, right wing nationalists in India have been utilising social media platforms to harass those with opposing political beliefs. Utilising sexually explicit images to draw attention to the account, then proceed to harass followers, with high profile citizens often receiving the brunt of online abuse. This is a strong form of censorship in modern society as these trolls have utilised social media as a tool to fuel their political agendas. Discouraging users from discussing their personal beliefs and opinions regarding current issues that impact quality of life through the application of systematic political violence (Chaturvedi 2016).
Political clickbait is a concept that refers to the substantial creation of content showcasing one political ideology in an attempt to minimise the attention an opposing view receives (Athique 2019). This is an inevitable consequence of “platform sociability”, an ideology most common throughout Asia that is being expanding its influence due to the increasing popularity of political clickbait.
The production of media that accurately represents a variety of perspectives on a political issue is a method that will effectively establish an even playing field for political agendas. However the introduction of clickbait has negatively impacted the validity of otherwise reliable media resources, with the spread of misinformation purely for financial gain (Athique 2019). This extension of social media for entertainment purposes has been further displaced the political function of both print and digital media, as a means of spreading awareness of issues. The use of political clickbait receives more traction as it is more entertaining for readers, therefore able to gain higher views. This further discourages the production of news that accurately reflects what is occurring and needs to be discussed, by encouraging strategic censorship for the means of financial gain.
Having the ability to discuss personal opinions on a topic in an online environment is something everyone should have access to. Censorship in the form of discouraging conversations is something that occurs in Western society as well. This is especially evident through the removal of media surrounding Indigenous Australian issues on the increasingly popular application Tik Tok. With many Indigenous creators being “shadowbanned”, political issues are not receiving the attention needed to make active change.
The following video provides an insight into censorship in Australia.
Athique 2019, Digital Transactions in Asia, . (pp. 236) edited by Adrian Athique and Emma Baulch. New York, NY United States: Routledge
Benedictus, L. (2016). Invasion of the troll armies: from Russian Trump supporters to Turkish state stooges. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/nov/06/troll-armies-social-media-trump-russian [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
Chaturvedi, S. Special to Gulf News (2018). BJP’s troll army bullies, abuses and fights dirty with Narendra Modi as the general. [online] Gulfnews.com. Available at: https://gulfnews.com/world/asia/india/bjps-troll-army-bullies-abuses-and-fights-dirty-with-narendra-modi-as-the-general-1.1541941374832 [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
Citron, D.K. (2017). What to Do about the Emerging Threat of Censorship Creep on the Internet. [online] Available at: https://www.cato.org/policy-analysis/what-do-about-emerging-threat-censorship-creep-internet [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
CNN Business (2020). Should social media be censored? Here’s what both sides have to say. YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnOj7IWJ_yU [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
Green, J. Karolides, N.J. (2011). Encyclopedia of Censorship. [online] Available at: https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=bunHURgi7FcC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=censorship&ots=bwp9Wi1XY0&sig=9PGULNpTGY1I0BHCS99tlFWX-Uw#v=onepage&q=censorship&f=false [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
Lorentzen, P. (2013). China’s Strategic Censorship. American Journal of Political Science, [online] 58(2), pp.402–414. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajps.12065 [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].
Octopie (2019). Censorship in Australia (Censored EP103). YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCibGz6RDWY [Accessed 10 Sep. 2021].