The end of the free internet. What will the Internet be like tomorrow


The Internet has always been a space in which it was possible to express different points of view, including radical ones. The flaw in freedom to express any point of view has led to the emergence of communities that advocate and disseminate opinions that are subject to criminal prosecution in most countries of the world. The openness of the Internet has provided a platform for everyone, and it is impossible to argue that this is the other side of the coin. States have not fully learned how to control what they say on social networks, find the real people behind the messages, and apply those measures to them that are provided for by the legislation of the country. I am sure that no one will dispute the need to combat child pornography, drug trafficking, communities that purposefully drive people and, in particular, adolescents to suicide. The perception of the Internet as a place where you can express any point of view is wrong. Humanity has developed social norms for thousands of years of its existence, it is impossible to believe that the emergence of a new information environment negates the basic principles of the functioning of society. How long is the Internet compared to the observed history of mankind? Fifty years is nothing in the context of our history, the technology itself looks like an error in the context of all eras. Yes, the time of human development has accelerated, we are adapting new technologies faster, and they penetrate into our lives almost instantly. But in the historical context, this is nothing.

States have always controlled the dissemination of information, since it determines our entire being. Correctly placed accents give a different reading of the same events. What for some looks like heroism, for others is an unworthy act, and this is well reflected in the language (scout or spy, what do you see as the correct definition?).

The development of technologies is always faster than their adaptation to political processes. Radio appeared as a mass product after the First World War, for example, radio broadcasting in America began in 1920 on the AM band. At the same time, the experience of the Russian revolution of 1917 demonstrates the understanding that communication means are necessary, remember Lenin’s phrase about mail, telephone and telegraph? True, in the original this phrase sounded somewhat differently, and not like in the film: “You must certainly be busy and at the cost of any losses you want to withhold: a) telephone, b) telegraph, c) railway stations, d) bridges in the first place.” …

How quickly did radio politicians adapt? The process was not too fast, it took a long time. In the USA, with the maximum penetration of radio in the 30s, Franklin Roosevelt became the first politician to use the power of radio.

The end of the free internet. What will the Internet be like tomorrow

Roosevelt recorded his first radio address in 1929, when he was still governor of New York State, as president since 1933 Roosevelt addresses the nation almost three dozen times and explains the processes in clear language. Roosevelt’s addresses were collectively called “Conversations by the Fireplace,” since the format itself differed from the usual communication of politicians. People listened to the president in their homes as if he were a guest. Roosevelt’s popularity was largely based on the fact that he could appeal to as many Americans as possible. As a historical curiosity illustrating the influence of radio and the credibility of this media, the radio play “War of the Worlds”, made in the style of a reportage, became. Many listeners in 1938 missed the message that it was a production and took the news of the Martian attack as real news.

During World War II, the confiscation of weapons and radios became common practice for all warring parties in the occupied territories. Information control was carried out not only in relation to the occupied territories, their population was also forced to surrender their radios in order to suppress rumors and panic.

The end of the free internet. What will the Internet be like tomorrow

Politicians are not very quick to adapt to new technologies; they always need illustrative examples. In the United States, such an example was the use of television in the presidential race in the 60s, after which TV became the king of political shows. In our time, the Internet and social media have brought Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States and proved that this is a real force that needs to be controlled.

It is surprising that Donald Trump, having received his position at the expense of the media, immediately began to speak out against IT corporations, in fact, created a threat to their existence in the usual format.

Trump’s example is interesting in that it is comparable to stories from the past, the only difference is in the changed media. The set of tools that politicians have used in the past to set restrictions on new media and the dissemination of information is not very diverse. This is the use of political leverage, the formation of loyal media and conglomerates. If we take into consideration the media at the level of a particular country, then usually the state supported loyal groups with the maximum audience coverage. At the same time, alternative points of view became niche, they were not supported by state budgets or preferences. Russia in this vein does not differ at all from the USA, France, Great Britain, China and other countries of the world, the rules of the game are approximately the same everywhere.

The advent of the Internet has gradually changed the rules of the game, the popularity of television has steadily declined, the very same YouTube has become a modern TV, as well as other channels of information dissemination have grown. The beauty of the Internet lies in the fact that the information in it may not be verified at all, everyone can receive confirmation of the point of view that is close to him. Do you believe in little green men? You will find the same fans of this theory, someone will even claim that they are constantly communicating with them. The situation is not too simple, as landmarks are lost, and they are needed by a huge number of people. There was a destruction of the expertise, the institute of experts cracked at the seams, as everyone who could get the same access to information and its distribution. For example, a popular blogger with an audience of almost ten million people talks about how he feels the impact of 5G on his skin and brains, and his audience supports these tales and begins to spread further. The Internet has become a magnifying glass for any nonsense, but it not only highlights these absurdities, but also increases the number of those who believe in it. The reproduction of stupidity has begun to flow, and today few people are interested in reality, the emotions and perception of the person who disseminates the information are important. If you like a person, then he is right, and if he causes rejection, then give him and the point of view that he expresses. No facts are needed for this, your rejection is enough.

Oddly enough, it is this tolerance for everything that means freedom on the Internet, since it is impossible to create a free network in which there will be no stupidity, this is part of our life. The same Wikipedia is an excellent display of the ongoing processes: a free encyclopedia, created by enthusiasts without the participation of experts, it reflects those opinions that dominate in society (and it is not so important how true or wrong they are). The idea of ​​such an encyclopedia is excellent, the implementation is severely lame for many reasons.

The end of the free internet. Control over information

The debate about whether the Internet can be controlled has long died out. The conclusion drawn about twenty years ago sounds simple – due to the nature of the Internet, such control is impossible, there will always be sites and resources that can present alternative points of view, they cannot be drowned out. The fallacy of this point of view is that the initial positions assume total control over everything that happens on the network, but there is no need for it. The task looks different – to create for a larger mass of users the correct picture of the world that can be controlled. And given how few companies are responsible today for the functioning of the Internet, in which country of the world they are concentrated, control over information on the network is possible.

Let’s take a look at how the information agenda has been worked out in terms of the pandemic and how information is disseminated online. Search engines give only official information regarding the coronavirus on the first pages of the search, pessimize the issuance of information from irrelevant sources. For example, YouTube used a full range of tools to remove videos that discussed the pandemic – from turning off monetization to hiding videos for a channel from the list. In the modern world there is no need to force you to hand over your “radio receiver”, because now you can control the programs that will be played on it. And highlight what needs to be put into your head.

The end of the free internet. What will the Internet be like tomorrow

The same Google never discloses its search algorithms and how resources are ranked. For everyone, this is a black box that gives out some information, and it is assumed that Google does not manipulate this information. In fact, we know that Google, Apple, Microsoft and other IT giants change the display of information depending on their tasks. It’s too addictive and free to use. States are just entering this territory and are trying to control what is happening, to create general rules of the game. For example, I think it is necessary for states to create binding and transparent rules for search algorithms that describe possible and impossible scenarios for their work. Search has turned into exactly the same informational tool as television once did; it influences the mood of the crowd. This path will not be without mistakes, but there is no doubt that such regulation is necessary. I will formulate the thought differently – today we have no counterweight to IT corporations and the rules that they set for themselves. The situation is absurd because the companies that make money with us claim to be well-meaning. But when they are caught trading our personal data, they pretend it’s an accident. These corporations have transformed the person into a product that they successfully trade. When Google blocks a person and all his services, then it does not provide any explanation, there is nowhere to protest such a decision. And these are not isolated cases, you are simply erased from the digital universe, and you instantly lose all your data – mail, photos, archives. They do not belong to you in any way, the lever is not on your side. And this is also something that needs to be corrected, to return control over your data to us. The process has already begun, but it is slow and thorny.

Control over the Internet will mean that all states will pay more and more attention to it, the process is inevitable. We are already seeing how it is being implemented in different parts of the world. Total control over communications in China, the prohibition of a number of Western services, the creation of their counterparts. America looked like the exact opposite of the Chinese approach until recent events, but now it can be argued that it is exactly the same approach. American corporations independently include censorship on their sites (application store, websites, hosting), which virtually destroys the possibility of mass dissemination of competing opinions.

The situation around the social network Parler very well demonstrates this process, in fact, the American IT business has killed freedom of speech as such. And this is against the background of the fact that there are similar calls on Twitter, where no one deletes them. The very situation around the current US president, who was cut off from the main information platforms, can be characterized as aggression against the head of state. And it is not so important that he lost the elections, at the moment he is the current head of the country. But he is effectively cut off from “mail, telephone, telegraph”, deprived of the right to vote. Censorship in an explicit, undisguised form without the presentation of any charges. The same Twitter went even further, and representatives of the social network said that they would block any account that would give Donald Trump an opportunity to speak out. It looks like crude, blatant censorship, and there is no talk of any freedom of speech.

The principle of similarity operates in our world, many countries look at what is happening in America today and try the situation for themselves. What will America do when disagreements arise with a particular country? He will try to put pressure on by all means, including through social networks owned by the American iT-corporations. There are not many countries in the world that have developed local social networks, Russia is one of them. America’s actions will provoke a blow to Facebook and other social networks, as construction of local social networks begins with some degree of success. The process of geographic segregation of individual Internet segments will accelerate. A couple of decades ago, the very term “Runet” evoked a smile and betrayed a kind of small-town phenomenon, in the global web we were equipping our site, as if we did not want to be part of the general Internet. Today, most countries are following this path, since the influence of American IT corporations has become too great and there is a real need to limit them. The political struggle within the United States has accelerated all processes, and now the isolation of the Internet will go much faster. There are positive aspects in this, since now not only AWS servers will be in demand, but also sites in different parts of the world, primarily where there are no American sanctions and the ability to turn off a particular business by turning the switch.

The US trade war against China is also contributing to this situation, we are seeing how the world is changing before our eyes. And in this world, American corporations will begin to weaken, as politicians will step by step take away their influence and shape other instruments. This automatically means a decrease in the number of freedoms within specific countries. Do you need proof of this? Here you go, Twitter of the incumbent US president, who has access to and controls nuclear weapons.

The end of the free internet. What will the Internet be like tomorrow

The social network simply limited the President of the United States in his ability to communicate, without a court decision, at his discretion. Now think about what will happen to you if your thoughts do not like the social network, more precisely, the robot, which will block all objectionable messages at the behest. You will simply be erased, you will not be in the digital world.

Any action provokes opposition, and we will see how politicians around the world will begin to react to these stories. This is not a small-town history of the US elections, the situation affects all countries without exception. And in this light, Russia’s actions look like timely: the creation of laws regulating the actions of social networks, greater control over the Internet. Alas, the days of the free Internet have come to an end, it will no longer be found anywhere in the world. The priority in each country will be given to the information that is of interest to people who control information flows. Take a look at what Yandex.News has become to see how it happens, alternative points of view almost never make it to the top. Somehow it has become a good tradition to blame Russia for such control, but there is nothing new here, all countries are doing exactly the same thing. Against the background of American events, we can say that we do it even gracefully, without using a club and destroying those who disagree with a simple erasure from the digital landscape.

What does this mean for you and me? People who do not participate in big politics and do not want to become a model example for others? I have a simple rule, I never publicly say (or write) anything that I can regret. For example, when you claim that someone is raping children and you know for sure from the face of a person’s face, be prepared to prove it later in court and not cry when you cannot do this and the consequences will catch up with you. The Internet does not mean permissiveness, as many for some reason still think, the laws here work in exactly the same way. Do not do here what you can regret, and very much. And often it will not work to hide behind someone else’s name, to refer to the opinion of some person, too, the dissemination of false information has its own dimension within the framework of the law.

But abstracting from these threats, I can say that it is increasingly necessary to back up the information that you store on social networks in other places so that you have it in a local form. Otherwise, you risk losing everything that you have when, on a certain day, Instagram or somewhere else decides that you said something wrong and you need to be blocked forever. I think that we will even create material on this topic, since this is an important issue.

Our Telegram channel has a survey on whether there is freedom of speech on the Internet, share your opinion on this.

In the comments, tell us how you assess the changes that will happen to the Internet in the next few years. Are these positive changes or will they harm the network?

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