One of the anti-riot measures recently suggested by British PM David Cameron is to prevent rioters from using Twitter and other social networking websites. Such a tactic, which was slammed as a trick resorted to only by authoritarian governments in the past, has had a great impact on world media.
The bold measure indicates that Britain is at its wit’s end on how to stop the country’s worst riots in decades.
Cameron’s suggestion to block social networking websites smashes basic concepts of freedom of speech in the West, which always takes the moral high ground in criticizing the reluctant development of Internet freedom in developing countries.
The violence has brought a comprehensive and diverse influence on the whole of the West. Created by globalization and the development of the Internet, the headache of governance suffered by developing countries has now spread to their developed peers.
Democracy and freedom of speech should have their pragmatic connotations and denotations. The Chinese edition website of the Financial Times carried an article on Friday titled “What is the bottom line of freedom of speech?” Fanned by the rapid development of the Internet, the requirement for freedom of speech is trespassing the boundaries of the current political system in the West, it warned.
The economic and social turmoil in the US, Britain and France might trigger a worldwide groupthink and introspection on the boundaries of democracy and freedom of speech. The blind worship of Western democracy in many developing countries in recent decades has contradicted the trend of multi-polarization in the rest of the world. These crises have sounded the alarm to a situation that cannot continue.
The British Government’s wariness of the Internet and Blackberry Messenger – symbols of freedom of speech – is a forced reaction, which might upset the Western world. Meanwhile, the open discussion of containment of the Internet in Britain has given rise to a new opportunity for the whole world. Media in the US and Britain used to criticize developing countries for curbing freedom of speech. Britain’s new attitude will help appease the quarrels between East and West over the future management of the Internet.
As for China, advocates of an unlimited development of the Internet should think twice about their original ideas.
On the Internet, there is no lack of posts and articles that incite public violence. They will cause tremendous damage once they are tweeted without control. At that time, all governments will have no other choice but to close down these websites and arrest those agitators.
Turbulence must lead to self-examination, otherwise it’ll lead to great peril in one’s destiny.