A Bill, in lay man terms is, “a formal declaration of the legal and civil rights of the citizens of any state, country, federation, etc”. Now that that’s out-of-the-way, let’s just imagine a bill was passed to make certain that every human being had access to the internet and had the right to use it whenever and however they wanted. Am thinking “world peace” but am also thinking security breaches and chaos as well as all that information that would literally either promote the world to unite or ignite a world war 3. Because I reside in a rather liberal country where freedom of expression is the daily anthem, I must admit to my ignorance at not knowing that there are actually countries that censor their citizen’s access to social media platforms and deliberately slow down the internet because they feel it poses as a threat to their respectable states.
Call me naive, but in my head social media is both a weapon of mass distraction (in a positive way) and a platform where revolutions arise, where people’s opinions and voices are heard, where suppressed individuals feel they have a voice and where victims of injustice demand to be heard in the form of petitions. We witnessed two of the biggest forms of activism late last year, #BlackLivesMatter, which saw more than 3 000 marching in protest and #BringBackOurGirls. I would say this had to be the most applauding participation on social platforms. Regardless of colour, age, nationality or creed, people from all over the world stood up for what they believed in, they had a right to, I had a right to, you had the right to. Videos were uploaded, pictures were taken, influential people’s tweets and statuses were retweeted and shared, only because of the right and freedom to do so. The #BringBackOurGirls movement eventually got the attention of FLOTUS (First Lady Of The United States) Michelle Obama, who also joined the campaign. She had more that 57 000 retweets for her tweet sending prayers to the girls and their families. More than 4 million tweets have been sent out using this hashtag. No doubt, Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets brought the news to a worldwide audience simply because of access to the internet. I realise that this is a right denied to so many and I can not help but wonder if there is a way of getting around these bans, and so I did a little Googling. Proxy Servers, VPNs and Browsers are ways of getting around. A browser called Tor allows traffic to be routed through the Tor network, It basically hides your tracks. So if for instance Facebook has been banned in a certain country they cannot track you.
Just thinking about all the technicalities involved in simply having the freedom to have access to the digital world is a little daunting I must say. Is it a matter of ignorance or security that the “gate keepers” in these countries have this in place? Could this matter actually get escalated to the extent that it ends up on the “to do ” list of the UN therefore prompting these affected countries to reconsider? As always only time will tell. We can not however deny the fact that activism in form of hashtags creates a gateway between politics and popular culture, a podium to educate the ignorant and retain attention to the focus of human rights in the world dealing with real issues that matter.