community revolt

Social Networks Bringing People Together like Never Before

The Hungarian government wants to implement an ‘internet tax’.

What’s the best way to start a riot?

Let me help you out…suppress free speech. It’s possibly the number one reason people protest. And if the crowds face heavy handed control measures, these protests sometimes turn into full blown riots.

Communities rally with greater force now than ever before thanks to social networks. Today, if your cause is engaging enough, it’s easy to rally the troops. A strong social media collective can be as powerful as a state army.

In fact, using social networks is the best way to start a movement. Look at the Arab Spring or Euromaidan in Ukraine. Even the recent protests in Hong Kong…each was organised through social networks.

So much fear, so many reasons to protest

The world is in a very volatile state. And I’m not even talking about the markets.

Ebola spread across western parts of Africa like wildfire, and now the whole world is panicked over it. Scandalous ‘news’ headlines don’t help. You can’t avoid it on social media either.

In between ‘news’ about The Bachelor, all I see on my Facebook feed is horrible news: beheadings, ISIS and Ebola currently dominate.

Thank the world for cat videos…oh blessed be the cat videos. At least there’s something to smile about day to day…

But, along with Ebola, there’s plenty else wrong with the world.

ISIS has created racial and religious tension not just in Islamic nations but also across the world. Earlier in the month, there were fatal protests in Turkey. Over the weekend, there was a violent riot in Cologne, Germany. The target of the protest — Islamic extremism.

The Cologne protest was organised by a far right, neo-Nazi group. The protest had around 4,000 people, according to IBTimes. This was double the number expected by police. Most of the protesters were gathered through social media.

And things got ugly. Riot police were called in. Water cannons and pepper spray were shot…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse

Of course, much of this violence is a direct result of the actions of global leaders. Whether related to ISIS or not, the violence and protests around the world stem from misguided government policies.

The idea of the protest is nothing new, but social networks are. And the combination of the two has created greater influence on decision makers by the people.

The voice of many is always more powerful than the voice of a few. For better or worse, connected networks allow people to share a voice and a view like never before.

I highlight this because trouble is brewing in one particular eastern European country…one you probably wouldn’t expect.

This country’s government is trying to implement one of the most regressive, oppressive policies of the modern era…

The Hungarian government wants to implement an ‘internet tax’.

The draft bill has a provision where a tax is paid to the government revenue collectors per gigabyte of data transfer. This would apply to consumers and businesses.

Hungary already has the highest VAT (GST) rate of any country in the world at 27%. You can see why another tax has angered the people of Hungary.

But more than that, it’s widely viewed as the government taxing the freedom of information. The internet is perhaps the greatest tool of all time for creating and accessing information. It’s why we live in the ‘information age’.

Anyone can use the internet to express opinions, ideas, ideals and views. It’s the ultimate tool for freedom of speech.

On Sunday, approximately 100,000 Hungarians gathered in front of the Economic Ministry to protest these regressive laws. And the protest was organised through Facebook by a group with over 210,000 followers.

Words broke out through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks and the people came together to have their say. As part of the protest, attendees held up their phones as a sign to the government.

 

This protest was peaceful, but it proved a significant point: Governments should not try to enact policies that aim to restrict what has become an essential human right —that is, access to information.

That’s really what the internet is, after all — the world’s biggest collection of information. And it should be free to access by anyone, anywhere as a basic human right.

It’s an optimistic goal, but hopefully, one day, the entire world will have free access to the internet. The world should also strive for clean water, food and shelter for all. But perhaps the internet is equally as important. Perhaps the internet could provide the information to help communities achieve those other goals…

Regardless, social networks are clearly crucial to connecting and empowering people. And the internet is the backbone of that power. When government tries to restrict our freedom of information, they will face a resolute and defiant community.

Resouces: http://www.portphillippublishing.com.au/

 

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