Effects of Internet on World Politics.
When computers were first discovered in the early 1990s, the whole world foresaw a golden new era for the political arena. The growth of internet since its discovery has led to transformation of economies, societies and the world of politics (Chadwick 2006: 384). It has changed the way people live, think and react towards all situations in life such as employment, entertainment, shopping and so forth and now it is changing the whole political process in countries all over the world.
For instance, outfits such as GetUp Australia have sprung up around the globe to advocate for online politics and community democracy. This has changed the extent and the way in which people get involved in politics in Australia (Ward 2006: 56).
The whole discussion about the impact of the internet on politics is a bit vivacious and can only be based on empirical evidence. Most contemporary researches have shown that internet has made citizens to get access to the government information and their voices are easily heard via the blogs, web sites and listservs.
This has given the politicians a chance to deliberate directly with the voters and this way, their campaigns are far much cheaper and successful since they are bound to cover a larger population in a short period of time. However, as the use of computers and Internet increases with time, a new trend has began to emerge in the political world and this is quite worrying. This is based on the fact that the political views expressed on the customized Internet news, political websites and partisan blogs only serve the purpose of hardening the voters views, polarize politics and result in major political divides within a nation or the world as a whole (Manuel 2001: 64-115). Whether the Internet serves as lever for democracy or as a wedge for political polarization is still a major debate prevalent among political analysts today. All in all, internet technology has had some major impacts on the world of politics some of which are positive while others are negative as discussed below.
Internet as a political medium.
Internet is viewed as a stepping stone and a delivery medium for tools which help to combat the inhibitors of direct democracy. Unlike radio and television, internet has a greater capacity which allows much encryption and management of databases which are vital for public access and sharing of information on a large scale basis. This gives room for political transparency, deliberative democracy and combats electoral fraud in the global political systems (Gibson & Ward 2006: 34-76).
Internet as a medium for political information enhances low cost information exchange and a constant high level of accessibility especially among interested members of the public. This is advantageous in that it serves as a cheaper mechanism for transfer and exchange of political information even among people who are on low budgets unlike when other traditional media of political communication such as television, radio, newspaper and telephone are used. For instance, the OpenForum. com. au which is an Australian non profit organisation provides a platform on which the politicians, academicians and members of the public can engage in healthy policy debates and practice their democratic rights online (Gibson, Lusoli & Ward 2007: 29).
At a time when political engagement seems to be declining in the world of politics, internet is offering a glim of hope in the revival and improved practice of democratic participation through the use of technology. E-democracy refers to the use of electronic media such as the internet to enhance the democratic processes in a country. This is a new phenomenon which has transformed the socio-political behaviour of activists and citizens alike by influencing their political agendas and debates. For this reason, internet has made the political candidates to adjust their campaigns to take advantage of the political advantage by use of weblogs where their supporters can view the latest happenings, pledge their support and even donate money to fund their campaigns. This has helped the politicians to seek support from the grassroot levels both nationally and internationally.
In this case, direct support is facilitated by use of deliberative polling sites which help to amplify the public opinions in matters concerning policy discussions and media coverage. Although such grassroot campaigns however have been found to be shape the course of political conflicts in many parts of the world especially in the United States, they have also been very helpful in promoting democracy and increasing the level of voter turn outs in countries such as Australia n(Chen, Geiselhart & Gibson 2006: 45).
Internet fund raising.
Since 1998, online fund raising has been on an increase. This refers to the use of Internet based technology to market and communicate to the gather donations from the supporters all over the world. Such donations are then used to fund ground campaigns and outreach efforts through television, radio and public advertisements among others. The online fund raising also helps the candidates or politicians to reach out to their supporters and from the feedbacks they get via donations, they are able to establish the extent of their campaigns and from that, they can tell how much more they need to do in order to lure more voters to support them.
This refers to the division of a region or a state into many small territorial units. Balkanization dilutes the strength or the uniting power of a nation hence creating internal fragmentation along political lines. Although internet is believed to highly expand the scope and accessibility of political opinions by the citizens, it is also feared that it is likely to balkanize the political discourse of a country (Sarah, Diana & Rachel 2006: 64-87). Research shows that the use of internet has led to intensified disintegration of people’s views especially on issues related to national and political matters into distinct partisan realms.
In addition, the use of internet has given many people a chance to join different online groups where they are given a chance to air their ideological views as well as cultural and personal preferences without any fear of victimisation. A research by Pew has shown that internet users are more likely to be aware of differing political views than the internet non users. In this case, internet serves as a source of all kind of information both right and wrong and it may thus serve as a source of conflicts among differing supporters of opposing sides in the political arena.
The term cyberterrorism remains controversial and without a clear definition. It is composed of two strong terms, that is, terrorism and cyberspace. In definition, cyberspace is a place in which computer programs and data functions move freely while on the other hand, terrorism is can be defined as a means of pre-mediated politically instigated violence which is meant to influence the decisions of an audience in order to achieve some personal selfish interests. In this case, cyberterrorism is the convergence of both cyberspace and terrorism and it can be defined as a pre-mediated political attack by sub national groups on information, computer programs, systems and data which results in violence against
non combatant groups. It is also refers to unlawful attacks or threat of attacks planned against computers, computer networks and data stored therein which is done to coerce a government or its citizens from achieving certain political achievements.
This kind of attack often leads to violence against people or property leading to death, injury or massive loss of property and it is a negative effect of the internet on the politics of a country in that, it is used to frustrate and intimidate the political efforts of a nation thus preventing it from achieving many political growth or development in terms of policies, democracy and so forth. Online campaigns which are highly supported by the use of internet technology can at times serve as sources of conflicts between opposing supporters which might result in cyberterrorism. For instance, in South Korea, the use of such campaigns has disrupted presidential elections and shifted the government’s policy on nuclear stand-off.
Political apathy refers to public or individual indifference on issues concerning certain political events and movements. In some cases, a voter who is not affiliated to any political party is said to be feeling apathy towards politics and this is not right as it does not reflect individual democracy on the political issues of a country. Substantial evidence has shown that most people who are able to access political news and information online are more likely to vote than those who do not have access to the internet. This is because internet gives first hand and updated information which is stirs political interests on the voters unlike the news reported via radio, TV and other media means. In this case, it can be said that internet combats political apathy and helps to lure more voters to the poll (Chadwick 2006: 390).
In addition, most of the potential voters in today’s population are the young people who have already been declared to be ‘digital additives’. This means that they are likely to spend most of their free time scouring the web for additional information and insights concerning the political status of their country and this way, they get the political ammunition needed to instil the desire to vote. This is a positive impact of the internet as it helps the citizen to exercise their political democracy and to elect the best leaders into the government.
The YouTube transformation.
Though many of the internet impacts on politics are not very obvious, one inescapable fact is that this new technology has succeeded in insinuating itself into the politic world. The latest hot function for those who are serious about politics is known as YouTube. This service which has become very popular since being made available in 2004 has made a big impact on both the citizens as well as the politicians in that it easily avails online videos covering the campaign footage, political utterances and so forth to anyone who wish to access it. This service has so far taken its procession of internet driven innovations which have a great impact on politics. However, the greatest impact of this service is yet to be seen after its amplification by political parties and mainstream media.
Internet has had many positive impacts on both the politicians and the citizens such as political development and it has also brought a lot of openness to politics (Chen 2002: 74-114). This way, the power of search has enforced consistency and deep analysis in both the policy making process as well as communication of the policy. Furthermore, it is now possible to maintain the tone of debate in the process of policy making as lively, original and as anti-established as possible through the use of internet technology. Another positive impact of internet on the politics of a country is that it is increasingly used to hold politicians accountable to their actions and it also brings together like-minded groups to advocate for changes especially those opposed to certain policies such as road pricing, tax increases and so forth. This helps the citizens to develop potent single issue campaigns which are healthy to maintain the political democracy of a nation.
The web also acts as an empowerment tool for the politicians which links them directly to the needs and concerns of the citizens and this way, they are able to easily address such issues for the betterment of the country and the world as a whole. For policy development, internet has led to greater scrutiny of the policies and the fact that citizens now have greater access to official government data via the web enables them to have their voice heard in the policy making process thus revolutionising the process. Internet also gives room for the ideas of leading thinkers to be heard and translated into reality and this helps to create better policies which address the interests of both the citizens and the politicians alike.
The instant growth and availability of information online has gotten rid of delay and obfuscation in the process of obtaining information from the government. Moreover, if the government wants to disperse any kind of information to its citizens, it is now easier and faster to do so to via the internet. In this case, the citizens and not the state are the masters of this new era of the digital age.
From the discussion above, it is evident that internet has so far made enormous effects on the world of politics in different ways and it is clear that the role of internet in politics will continue evolving as technology continues to improve and the users become more and more familiar with its new purposes. The major effects of the internet on politics so far centre around the activist’s use of emails, personalised websites, donor’s online contributions, bloggers views on the different political issues and the amateurs passion to capture those ‘spot on’ political moments and put them on YouTube for all to see. Despite having some negative effects on the world of politics such as cyberterrorism and internet fund-raising, internet can arguably be claimed to be a perfect advocate for e-democracy and an all time rival to political apathy.
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Chen, P., Geiselhart, K. & Gibson, R. (2006). Report No. 6: Electronic Democracy? The Impact of New Communications Technology on Australian Democracy (Democratic Audit of Australia Report N. 6). Canberra: Australian National University.
Gibson, K. & Ward, S. (2000). An Outsiders Medium?: The European Elections and UK Party Competition on the Internet. In P. Cowley, D. Denver, A. Russell & Lisa Harrison (eds). British Parties and Elections Review. London: Frank Cass.
Gibson, R., Lusoli, W., & Ward, S. (2007). The Australian public and politics online. Paper presented at the Annual conference of the PSA, University of Bath.
Manuel C. (2001). The Internet Galaxy: Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Sarah, O., Diana, M. & Rachel K. (2006). The Internet and Politics: Citizens, Voters and Activists. London: Routledge.
Ward, S. (2006). Research Report – Parliamentary Representation in the Internet Age: An Anglo-Australian Comparison (Res 335-25-0029). Oxford: Oxford Internet Institute.
Cite this Effects of Internet on World Politics
Effects of Internet on World Politics. (2016, Oct 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/effects-of-internet-on-world-politics/