History has told us that as every new technology emerges so does another anxiety. From the development of publishing and the idea that citizens will read and not work, to television stopping children from playing outside, anxiety towards technology is a common concern when placed in the traditional context of society. Furthermore we are seeing the demise of the ‘private space’ with our children accessing explicit content in their bedroom. This intrusion of domestic space further feeds into the already existing moral panic over technology and the availability and circulation of explicit content on the Internet.
Social media acts as a portal of empowerment, entertainment and communication for youths, however it has also brought upon new fears surrounding privacy concerns, digital footprints and the notion of its unhealthy environment. Due to their limited capacity for self-regulation and susceptibility to peer pressure, children and adolescents become a vulnerable aspect to the online environment when participating on social media platforms (O’Keeffe & Clarke-Pearson 2011). Content on social media platforms and the Internet as a whole, exposes youth to explicit, sexualised and inappropriate content, hence why mandatory Internet filtration must be imposed. Whilst the public tends to focus on the implications of social media, we must not neglect the increased exposure to a wider variety of mediums such as television, music, advertising and video games which also prove to be harmful material (ALRC 2012).
When looking at the Internet as a whole, a neglected aspect of public policy that needs to be considered in the Internet filtering debate is the questions of how we sensibly balance the risks posed by online material, particularly to children verses the freedom of choice and responsibility for adults who want to consume and produce content online (Lumby et al 2009). We’ve all heard it before but I will say it again, where do we draw the line?
Our convergent media environment presents major new challenges; expectations by the wider community assume that with certain media content classification information will accompany it (ALRC 2012). These anxieties and concerns translate into pressure to regulate which leads to enforced regulations to protect children form the exposure to inappropriate media content, couched in the discourse of power.
But wait parents; the end of the world is not upon us. In order to keep out porn, gore, racism and cyberbullying, “Facebook has fashioned itself the clean, well-lit alternative to the scary open Internet for both users and advertisers” (Chen 2012). Whilst this excessive censorship is a horary from the parents, on the other hand, majority of the population are in serious uproar. From homophobia to the debate surrounding art verses pornography Chen (2012) states that these censorship scandals haven’t helped Facebook’s opacity regarding its content moderation process. The vague policy yet again adds to the ongoing debate of control verses regulation.
The following images are from an advertising campaign run by a French Advocacy group against protecting children from online predators. The humorous approach depicts real-life emoji’s, educating children on the dangers of online chat rooms and asks youths to questions who is behind the online conversation. For more information on the campaign click here.
ALRC, 2012, Classification – Content Regulation and Convergent Media, Report, Australian Government, 29 February, viewed 12 May 2014, accessed via UOW Moodle.
Chen, A 2012. “Inside Facebook’s Outsourced Anti-Porn and Gore Brigade, where ‘Camel Toes’ are More Offensive than ‘Crushed Heads.’” 16 Feb. 2012. Gawker, http://gawker.com/5885714/inside-facebooks-outsourced-anti-porn-and-gore-brigade-where-camel-toes-are-more-offensive-than-crushed-heads
Lumby, C. Green, L and Hartley, J 2009, Untangling the Net: The Scope of Content Caught by Mandatory Internet Filtering. Report, Viewed May 11 2014 via UOW Summon.
O’Keeffe G, Clarke-Pearson K, 2011, The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families, Pediatrics, Clinical Report, March 28, viewed May 12 2014, http://machadok.faculty.mjc.edu/SocialMediaImpact.pdf