The Internet and Social Media: Tools of Freedom or Tools of Oppression?

Student Forum
February 25, 2011 3:30PM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute; Alexander Howard, Government 2.0 Washington, D.C., Correspondent, O’Reilly Media; and Tim Karr, Campaign Director, Free Press; moderated by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

Freedom movements around the world are using Twitter and Facebook to express dissent and to organize, particularly in the Middle East. It might be fair to say that the Internet is becoming the platform for political liberation. But the “just add Internet” thesis has its skeptics, who argue that, in fact, the Internet may give authoritarian governments the upper hand. Social media platforms are very amenable to government surveillance, and revolution doesn’t come easy, online or off. Should lovers of freedom be saying “Internet FTW!” or is it one big “#InternetFAIL”?