Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are being censored by governments worldwide. This blog post will explore internet censorship, why it is happening, and what you can do about it.
The internet has grown into a powerful medium for communication that connects people on an unprecedented scale. Social Media networks have become popular places to share ideas and make new connections with others worldwide. Unfortunately, internet censorship is taking place in many countries around the globe due to various reasons, including government control of information flow and national security concerns.
Censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information that may be considered objectionable, blasphemous, politically incorrect, or inconvenient as determined by governments or similar agencies. It also includes what may be regarded as creating an “intolerant” atmosphere that may not be in keeping with a large agenda.
Internet censorship controls or suppresses what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the internet enacted by governments and private organizations. Internet censorship occurs in many countries such as China, where internet service providers may restrict access to content that includes banned websites like Twitter and Facebook. Many countries have been known for restricting internet freedom, including Russia, which has implemented the “Yarovaya Law,” making it illegal to post any religious information online without permission from authorities and face jail time if caught doing so.
Most internet censorship is connected with social media networks like Facebook and YouTube, which actively cooperate with governments of countries worldwide by removing undesirable content when requested to do so, such as videos containing violence, obscenities, etc. Many internet censorship requests from across the globe come through a program called “Removals,” where companies remove material flagged by government agencies within 24 hours if they find it legal after review; otherwise, they may face the consequences, including fines and blocked services.
Internet censorship isn’t just limited to social media platforms. Many internet service providers have been known for censoring internet content, such as Comcast, which has received much heat from customers after throttling Netflix and YouTube traffic in the past few years.
China is still one of the best examples of internet censorship:
The Chinese government has strict control over what information flows online. The Great Firewall of China prevents the residents from accessing websites that could expose their culture to the world. Other countries are guilty of this practice, including Russia, North Korea, and Iran. There was a time when China made Google and other services like Gmail and YouTube inaccessible. The government even tried to block WikiLeaks in 2010, but the organization found its way around it.
The Chinese government takes censorship very seriously, which is why it has prevented any information from leaking out of mainland China. Nothing can get past the Great Firewall if it does not have the approval of the government. This practice has been in place for some time now, and they are getting better at it each day.
The Chinese censorship authorities also go after content creators to prevent them from uploading any information on their sites that could be viewed as undesirable by the party in power. For example, the country’s cyber censorship laws and regulations forbid singers from engaging in “morally dangerous” acts, including spreading false information about celebrities. According to The Guardian, Li Yuchun is one of China’s most famous pop stars, and he was reprimanded for sharing photos of him smoking cigarettes on social media. The photo showed Li Yuchun wearing a dress with two pink bunnies posing near an ashtray full of cigarette butts.
More examples of censorship on the internet include:
-Twitter and Instagram has been suspended in Turkey
-Internet censorship in North Korea: The government of North Korea is not known to have explicitly censored the Internet, but North Koreans cannot access the uncensored global Internet and must instead use local servers that filter content.
-Internet Censorship in Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s 1962 press law was used to shut down the blog “Saudi Jeans” because it was deemed blasphemous.
-The German Largest Internet portal, Web.de in Germany, has censored the book “Mein Kampf” by Adolf Hitler on their website for legal reasons
-AOL censoring search results about adoption and people with disabilities in 2000
-Russia blocks Wikipedia indefinitely with an order from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s telecom regulator.
-Oklahoma Corporations Commission blocked access to Google Maps, citing security concerns for state agencies.
– Government regulations in the United States requiring ISPs to block sites such as The Pirate Bay
– Acceptable Use Policies that prevent employees from visiting certain websites or using specific words on Twitter, Facebook, etc. at work
– Websites are being blocked by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for legal reasons. For example, Indian ISPs were blocking torrenting websites in 2012
– Recent changes by big American internet providers to their terms of service limit what can be streamed and played online to make it more difficult for customers to access adult entertainment content through the web.
– The war in Syria affected Internet access and speed throughout the region
– The National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program has collected data from internet companies, phone carriers, and others on how people use the services they provide. This initiative has been recently exposed by former NSA contractor/whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Tips to mitigate internet censorship
One of the ways to mitigate state-sponsored internet censorship is by using a VPN. One can also use Tor, a proxy server, and change DNS servers to avoid being censored on the internet. Switching from HTTPS to HTTP can be done to avoid being monitored in some online activities. Techniques such as wrapping the payload in an encrypted envelope and hiding it within another protocol are also used.
There are, however, some flaws that can be seen when using a VPN or Tor. For example, ISPs have started blocking users from connecting to Tor. Using only a VPN will make the ISP unable to see what traffic is being routed through them, but they would still know that you’re connected to a VPN server, which could cause problems for some people in certain regions. Using HTTP instead of HTTPS has its own set of risks; making all your data unencrypted allows your ISP to see everything you do on the internet, even if they aren’t routing any of your traffic through their servers. One with altering DNS servers is that it won’t change anything for the ISP other than changing what IP address you’re connecting to since the data is still being routed through them.
Using a VPN or Tor is also not the end-all solution when trying to get around censorship by an oppressive government, as there are many ways they can prevent people from accessing these websites. They have started taking down servers that host Tor directories and are constantly looking for new ways to block access to Tor. Microsoft’s Windows 10 has recently been reported to come with a built-in VPN blocker that will notify your ISP once you start using a VPN, even if it was set up without their knowledge. A solution makes it hard for users who want to use a VPN for security reasons. The main purpose of using a VPN service is to keep your connection private and secure, so if Windows 10 is blocking it, that defeats the purpose.
A final flaw in using a VPN or Tor is that you are still routing all of your traffic through your ISP’s servers, so while they aren’t able to see what sites you are visiting directly, they can still get some information about you based on what IP addresses you’re connecting to. Tunneling everything through third-party servers may also slow down your Internet speeds since it takes more bandwidth and resources to encrypt and decrypt traffic.
The final solution for mitigating state-sponsored internet censorship would be BitTorrent encryption, having everyone use unofficial code signed binaries, which should make their traffic indistinguishable from genuine encrypted messages.
Internet censorship is something that has become a major problem for many internet users around the world. Hence, it’s important to understand how you can help fight back against restrictions of internet freedom in your country through VPN services and learning about internet censorship policies. Internet censorship is an issue that requires attention from governments worldwide, so we must all do our part by reporting cases where internet freedom may be threatened. Thank you for reading this blog post! Please like if you enjoyed reading today’s content! Feel free to share with friends, and have a great day, everyone!