The pitfalls of online campaigning

The rhetoric of the Internet age is freedom of information, filling democratic gaps, revolutionising how we communicate others, etc. Blogging, it would appear, has certainly taken that process to a different level. However, I wonder if many of those who use such mediums to challenge the status quo, i.e. governments of all kinds and large corporations, consider the darker side of their campaigns?

It has certainly worried me from time-to-time as I try (pleasantly as possible, I hope!) to challenge thinking on a number of subjects. At work I can hide, quite legitimately, behind an academic facade, but on the Internet the ideas of challenging thought is different. In other words, at work I know who is listening to me - on the Internet I have little idea of who reads my blog and even less idea what readers thinks about it. What is more, I have no idea if my thoughts are viewed as subversive even if living in the West brings with it freedom of speech.

The spur for today's blog comes via a very thought provoking article by Eric Lee of LabourStart. The article itself - The dark side of online campaigning (Union Ideas Network) considers how repressive governments and large corporations can now be targeted in ways never thought imaginable ten years ago. The main point being, have many thought to seriously think that repressive governments and large corporations may have similar designs of the Internet, never mind the fact that they have an abundance of resources compared to the average blogger?

The article is specifically about on-line campaigns (i.e. in particular on-line petitioning and disinformation counter-campaigning) . The point is, don't stop on-line campaigning if you believe in a certain cause, but if you do, you may have to start being more creative about how you do it. The key, it would seem, is to remain anonymous, or at the very least withhold as much of your identity as possible to legitimise your cause - a problematic balance to say the least.

Generally speaking the on-line risks are small, but the next time you are openly critical of something bigger than yourself think how the criticism has the potential to come back and haunt you, somehow and somewhere.

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