3.6.11

meta reporting and the outlawed web

Are you taking part in the new quiet revolution? 

Are you one of a new breed of dissidents and dissenters who are going against the grain, flaunting the law and creating general unrest amongst the countries leaders? 

Have you disclosed the identities of a celebrity with an injunction? 

Through the rise of the social web we are all more connected than we care to understand, all linked by the liberty of our voice in an un-policed environment.

There is no control on the internet, the freedom which comes as part of its inherent anonymity means that the only control available is that of self control. You decide how much of yourself to offer up to the world as entertainment or interest, you decide your own level of commodity or privacy; you decide how much control you consider necessary over your online ego. And it is this lack of control that is starting to stir fear in seats of power highlighted by the recent tribulations over hard-to-enforce injunctions.

The injunctions themselves are based on keeping certain information from being published in the media, which while that does skim the line of infringing on freedom of the press, it has been reiterated on several occasions during the most recent and high profile case that they are heavily weighted on the halting the continued harassment of those in question.

The privacy of those in the public eye is, has and will be an ongoing issue which relates more to views of authoritarian figures in our society than on the individuals themselves. That issue aside anyone who claims or accepts the perks of fame and notoriety should be ready to deal with the consequences which come in tow. As a professional sports personality or publicly viewed celebrity you are given the charge of role model should you like it or not, the same rule applies to politicians, even though their assigned demographic is usually in an age range able to make moral decisions on their own terms. But as a sportsman or musician you are in viewed on a pedestal through the eyes of children and young adults. The right of celebrities to a truly private life is compromised against the wealth and adoration they receive as compensation. Personal interest or none, there is little to undermine the idea that a celebrity’s life is newsworthy but after any initial story of transgression and forgiveness there should no doubt be a let up in press coverage. This should be done, not only as compassionate humanitarians to the plight of others but also to restrain ourselves from slipping further into the transformation into vicarious emotion vultures we seem to be careering towards, hence the unsung goal of most injunctions.

The outset of these recently lime lit pieces of legislature is that we, the people of the internet, have sparked a new level of meta-reporting in our unwillingness to be silenced. The media have been told that they are not to publish details of those involved in embargoed cases, a problem that may have let certain information remain under the public radar in the past. Unscrupulous and illusory journalism is an issue unto itself but the changing relationship between public and press is slowly unveiling a reporting trump card in being able to yell “Twitter said it first!” at the first sign of underhanded behaviour. The public voice, through the internet, albeit anonymous and without law has created a means by which that which has previously gone unsaid can be spoken aloud in a second hand, getting-away-with-it fashion as shown by Lib Dem MP John Hemming. Recently the minister ousted a sportsman who had taken out an injunction using a law based on freedom of speech within parliament by saying that to continue to cover up his name is ludicrous being as though everyone is talking about it anyway. Again the media tapped onto the meta-reporting, they can’t report the name of the sportsman but they can repeat what Mr Hemming had to say in Westminster.

Where does this leave the state of journalism in the modern world? Are we the ones who will be the news sources simply though our playful banter? And are we to be given commission?

Our internet voices and opinions are swiftly becoming commodities and more valued as a source of information than ever before. This quiet revolution has gone mostly unrecognised as in essence it is our chatter, our water cooler musings, which goes to show just how important the powers that be consider the average citizen to be.
But our voices, even when discussing celebrity gossip (which is really all these injunction cases are) are clearly important when they stand for or against something of real value. We, the voice of the internet, the voice of the world, have struck a chord with those above.

Don’t believe me? Ask Anonymous, a group of no holds barred forum posters turned internet activists, who having no apparent name or leadership have shaken and unstuck many corporate goliaths previously deemed to large to be touched. Sometimes simply ‘for the lulz’ in the case of youtube porn day, which saw thousands of members post hardcore pornography to youtube under the guise of tween pop music videos. Or on other occasions, and increasingly of late, Anonymous have become the digital voice of the oppressed and misjudged by supporting the free speech of web whistleblowers Wikileaks. Working against the infringement of right of Wikileaks president Julian Assange they have undermined the foundations of Paypal, Visa, MasterCard, Amazon and even Swiss bank PostFinance, not bad for a bunch of "supremely bored 15-year olds."

All of this goes to prove the power of a collective voice on the internet, how the situation plays out is anyone’s guess, and if we discuss it enough it through twitter and the like…well we may as well make a decision right now and save waiting for the papers any real digging. 

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