Tag Archive for social media

Cyberstalking: towards an obsessive society

 

[source: https://www.lumas.com/pictures/andreas_kock/stalker_iii-1/]

How much is too much attention?

Stalking is defined by Pathé and Mullen as « a constellation of behaviors in which an individual inflicts upon another repeated unwanted intrusions and communications ». For a long time, talking about stalking meant pinpointing a serious psychological disorder; to stalk, one had to physically and repeatedly follow his object of obsession. Today however, the stalking phenomenon takes an entire new dimension, infiltrating a new platform; the internet. We are witnessing an expansion of what we call cyberstalking (or online stalking), now troubling an entire society; the excessive following and watching happens online.

The internet: the new binoculars

It is a secret to no one that with the emergence of the internet and of social media came a new definition of intimacy. We are willing, along millions of people on the planet, to open the windows that lead into our lives, exposing thoughts, emotions and pictures that were once carefully kept private. But our desire doesn’t stop here. We are also willing to peak into other people’s lives, which often leads to trespassing their privacy. Here lies the paradox of cyberstalking: we allow people to stalk us and they allow us to stalk them. However, if we knew how many people obsessed over our posts, would we be as happy to share with them our experiences? A “like” figures one time on our pictures, a “seen” once on our stories, but how many times people see them again? How much time do they spend lingering on our posts? How many people do they show them to? All this is unknown information. By accepting a friend or a follow request, we put our lives in their hands; literally. But do we really know how trustworthy they are?

Here are some confessions of young people regarding their use of social media.

Social media; feeding our obsession

When it comes to stalking, whether it’s online or in real life, one thing is sure: obsession is always involved, always. That said, social media not only allows us to obsess over other peoples’ lives, but also sometimes creates the obsession or feeds it, helping it grow. We can think of two categories of possible targets. The first one contains celebrities, famous people, some who even make money out of peoples’ obsession. However, another target is possibly you, me or any human being who shares information online. When I say information, I mean any information really. In fact, even when a person isn’t active in terms of posting pictures and texts, his only participation (likes, comments, etc.) can be stalking material. Platforms such as WhatsApp can help a stalker track what times we are online or not, and this alone can feed his obsession. Facebook and Instagram give similar information about the times we go online. The term itself “last seen” reveals a lot. Seen by who? That is the question. Research shows that 24% of cyber stalkers are ex-lovers. This isn’t surprising since stalking is obsession themed. Nevertheless, this means that many brokenhearted people lie secretly behind their phones, watching their ex-lovers’ every move. Is social media making the healing process impossible? Can we ever really get over the ones we used to love when their intimacy is still within arm’s reach?

 

Regulations Vs Internet freedom

The millennial generation is a generation unlike any other. We have touch screen computers, and iPhones that listen to our every demand such as, ‘Siri, can you remind me to take out my laundry in ten minutes? We engage on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook that allow us to share any detail of our lives- at any given moment. We are in constant communication whether it’s watching the daily news, browsing the Internet, or sending out a tweet. Yet, we don’t always associate the media with the Federal Communications Commission. We barely hear of the FCC. How does the FCC protect the public when it comes to media-related regulations? Is it really needed?

The Federal Communications Commission is an agency that few people know about, or know what its sole purpose. The one responsibility the FCC has is to regulate communication networks within the public sphere. Congress has authorized the FCC with an official order that states that they shall regulate and control the country’s communications networks according to the best interest of the general public. Communications networks aren’t the only media subject to regulation. The FCC has power over other consumer technologies such as smartphones, cellular companies, and even Wi-Fi. Although all these outlets need regulation, is there such thing as too much regulation?

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President Obama has asked the FCC to regulate the Internet. The Internet is a virtual space that no one really owns, so what is net-neutrality? Net neutrality is the concept that Internet service providers should allow access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. The fear here is that Internet service providers (ISP) can take full of advantage by profiting over Internet speed. They can sell their service packages according to Internet access because they have the technology to increase and decrease speeds. This power can heavily interfere the media market.net-neutrality-1-620x400

Major media companies can essentially pay corporations a significantly higher amount of money for priority service. A company such as Zara, being the fashion mogul that it is, can pay for quality service whereas an online shopping startup such as Miss Guided for example, cannot. The issue of net neutrality supporters is not that major media outlets will find a new way to fight with each other for market share, but that everyone else—bloggers, niche news sources and small websites in general—will be priced out of the market for priority service and consigned to a much poorer internet experience.

In early 2015, the FCC ruled some heavy regulation on the Internet. They began with reclassifying broadband access as a telecommunication service. This works to their advantage because it is subject to more regulation than normal. They also made it illegal for ISP to charge for priority service so that wealthy content providers cannot take advantage. It is also now illegal for ISP to increase or decrease internet speed for a fee. Many agree with this notion, while others think it was unnecessary.Print

Advocators believed that these rulings would keep the Internet open and free’. Peter Gregory, Research Fellow at the Institute of Public affairs believes net neutrality to be a techno socialism, stating the following,

Net neutrality is simply techno socialism—the application of an economic system to an innovation it itself could never have created. Indeed, the FCC rulings betray the free and unbridled pioneer spirit of the internet itself

The Internet is an open and free space, and indeed it should be left as such.

 

Citation List
1. Skorup, B. Who Needs the FCC? National Affairs, 26, p36-51
2. Gregory, P. Net Neutrality is Techno Socialism. Institute of Public Affairs Review, 67(2), p32-35.