The freedom of individuals’ expressing their opinions has always been the archenemy of the governing powers. The governing powers, or states, have always wanted an ideal citizen who does not question the government’s policies that much, and abide by the rules that the state set-forth. Through out the history, centralized autocratic governments have always succeeded in suppressing freedom of speech. However the new technologies that mankind developed has ended the long-lasting system of repression. Unstoppably growing Internet, new devices that enable an individual to carry and access Internet within seconds have buried the 3500 year-old system into dusty pages of history. As long as we have Internet and social connectivity, freedom of speech will always prevail and even crush the centralized governing powers because Internet is immensely fast and uncontrollably growing and expanding.
To control masses, governments want to have limited or no opposite voice in their boundaries if possible. To understand through simple analogy, in a family household the father has to overrule his children’s opinions sometimes to maintain his authority, if his children criticize him too much, he will lose a significant amount of his authority over his children. Consequently history shows us that there is an inevitable clash between free speech and the authority. Even today, China, the second economically most advanced country, tries to limit Internet by censoring important search or social networking sites like Google and Facebook. Yet in contemporary democracies it is hard to suppress media if the checks and balances of that country are well functioning. So the question comes down to whether or not free speech is ever possible and what is the ideal amount of it? If we were to answer this question 20 years ago the answer would be “No, free speech will never be possible to achieve.” Interestingly a lot has changed over the past two decades, and today we can say, “Yes, it is possible to achieve free speech.”
But what has changed so dramatically over the course of these two decades? Few historical events and data will help us to see the greater picture. Based on ITU’s report in 2006 only 18% of the world population was using Internet. In 2011, within 5 years, 35% of the world population was using Internet, despite the world’s population have grown from 6,5 billion to 7 billion. Moreover there are 800 million people on Facebook, and 200 million postings on Twitter are made everyday. What do these mean? It means that today’s world has incredibly more options to express their opinions compared to any other era of mankind. These options are easy to access by everyone in contrast to 20 or 30 years ago. For instance, back in the time of Nazis, controlling the radio broadcasts was one of the key reasons how Nazi regime preserved its autocratic regime. That is why Nazi troops primarily focused on capturing radio stations when they invaded a country. Because radio grasped attention of the masses within seconds and communicated with them. However today, an average Joe from America, can reach out anyone who is using Internet, within seconds by few clicks on his smartphone.
The world we live in today in 2012 is a world that is in transition. Because we are living through what might be called the Internet Revolution. The world we lived 20 years ago was a world that was inherited from the Industrial Revolution. Including its market economy, social classes, government structure and freedom of speech. Nonetheless the world is shifting from that to a new paradigm of Information age. Internet has created a borderless cosmos for everyone who uses Internet. This means the old systems of Industrial Revolution will be modified accordingly, including the market economy, social classes, government structure and freedom of speech. The most dramatic change will occur in government structure and freedom of speech.
The first signs of this change were seen on Arab Spring of 2011. “The most popular Twitter hash tags in the Arab region in the first three months of 2011 were “Egypt”, “Jan25”, “Libya”, “Bahrain” and “protest”. Facebook usage swelled in the Arab region between January and April and sometimes more than doubled, the report found.” Writes an article from the National. In order to compete with the impact of Internet Mubarak regime shut down Egypt’s entire Internet. Yet it was futile, since Egyptians found other ways to connect to Internet. Eventually Mubarak regime was ousted and a revolution took place. The Revolutions of 2011 were the first major victory of Internet against the tyrants of the old system.
However, Wikileaks can not be ignored in fighting against autocratic old-system. Wikileaks published and exposed more than 400,000 secret documents of US State Department in regards to Afghanistan War, Iraq War and many other issues. Eventually The US government was stunned by the impact of Wikileaks and even its Secretary of State had to apologies from other parties regarding “the secret” components of the documents. This incident was also one of the first sign of the new world order. The new wave of information prevents governments to execute undemocratic and inhumane orders. Therefore in the near future, the strong centralized governments will fade away because of Internet’s ability to reach out to everyone without being censored.
To conclude, a new world awaits us. A world with limited government control and limitless free speech. Internet has created a borderless environment where individuals can speak without having the fear of being tracked down. In a larger scale, this might even lead to a one world-government with limited powers. However, the one thing that we know for sure is that the old time of era of tyrants and strong governments has died forever.