A Cypriot was stopped at Stansted Airport because he was carrying emergency flares with him. The person that will likely carry mini-explosives to the airport is either a potential terrorist or “stupid and naive”, and it makes sense for the authorities to assume that he is the former. As it turned out, the defendant was not a terrorist. If this was a story about a 22 year-old with a box of distress signal mini-flares in his luggage, then there would be nothing controversial about it, besides perhaps the fact that the police actually returned the flares to him once they charged him. As it turns out, the problem were not the flares, but rather a book he was reading, called the Anarchist Cookbook, which was published in 1971. Five months before his airport arrest, Andreas...
In previous articles on Online Public Spaces I have made two arguments. Firstly, that online public spaces such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter, should be subject to no less regulation than physical public spaces like pubs. Secondly, that in order to guarantee online social interaction we need to protect our data by ensuring that it can survive the discontinuation of a social network. Thus, I made an argument for an import/export mechanism that would underpin a decentralised system of communications.
In this article I want to raise the issue of access to these social networks. If online public spaces are deemed as important for justice and democracy, then we need to make sure that they are accessible to everyone.
This is the second of a three-post series on Online Public Spaces. In this post, I focus on the longevity and portability of data and argue for the creation of a cross-platform open standard for data-transfer across social networks, to facilitate decentralised online interaction.
This post was published in LSE’s Politics and Policy Blog, under the title There is tremendous value in maintaining online public spaces. This is the first of a three-post series. Read the second post titled Online Public Spaces and Access: policies your MPs can promote and the third titled Online Public Spaces, Longevity and Portability of Data: policies your MPs can promote.
By allowing interaction between people of diverse backgrounds and class, online social tools have come as close as possible to overcoming the structural limitations of physical spaces and are central ingredients of a deliberative democratic state. For this reason, George Iordanou argues that online public spaces should receive no less scrutiny or be subject to no less regulation than physical public spaces.
Cyprus has been at the centre of international attention for a couple of weeks. Information was flowing from every direction and the local and international news agencies reproduced everything – from unverified rumours about the resignation of the Minister of Finance during his visit in Russia, to imaginary offers to buy one of the two local banks. In all the crossfire of information, twitter saved the day. It helped verify information, collect information, alter pre-determined attitudes, translate economic jargon to human language and most importantly, mobilise people. The role of social media, specifically twitter, was pivotal in navigating this minefield of false and distorted information. The first example has been the day after the return of the president before the arrival of...