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On Freedom and the Internet

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February 20, 2010 – Comments (0)

Will Twitter and Facebook come to the rescue and fill in the void left by more conventional tools of diplomacy? Will the oppressed masses in authoritarian states join the barricades once they get unfettered access to Wikipedia and Twitter? ...While we fret about the Internet's contribution to degrading the civic engagement of American kids, all teenagers in China or Iran are presumed to be committed and engaged global citizens who use the Web to acquaint themselves with human rights violations committed by their governments.

A fascinating article at WSJ.com today argues that the U.S. is overstating the power of the Internet to spur the advance of freedom and democracy around the world. And I'll say this: As someone who does think that it's just a matter of time before a country like China has some sort of political upheaval enabled, in part, by greater access to information, the author makes a fairly compelling point that the Internet may actually be impeding this kind of political action. After all, if all of China's youth just get caught up in online gaming, they won't have much time leftover to plan political rallies.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit down with the article, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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