TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Steve Chiotakis: The situation in Tunisia’s still pretty dicey. Street revolts over high food prices brought down the government. But how did the message spread so fast? Like other protests, through social networks. Yet, that technology sword can cut both ways.
Evgeny Morozov wrote the book “The Net Delusion — the Dark Side of Internet Freedom,” and he’s with us now. Good morning.
Evgeny Morozov: Glad to be here.
Chiotakis: If people use websites such as Twitter and Facebook and Flickr to express themselves, well those are channels for free speech, right? So how can people be held back if they have access to all this free speech?
Morozov: Well the governments also have access to many of the same channels, and what we see happened in places like China and Russia is that governments are beginning to watch those spaces very closely. There is definitely an element of activists becoming much more effective in planning their campaigns online, but also there is a much more darker element of forces they oppose using the same very platforms to crack down on this activism dissonance.
Chiotakis: I want to talk about Iran, because after the election there, there were thousands of tweets coming in of where these protests were supposedly taking place. Give us an example of what was happening in Iran.
Morozov: The Iranian government began collecting and analyzing all of the Twitter messages, Facebook messages, Flickr photos, and actually began asking the public to identify anyone who they could recognize in the photos. I think as many as 40 people were actually identified on those photos, and some of them were arrested, some of them being interrogated.
Chiotakis: I want to talk about the responsibility as well, of these sites — Twitter and Flickr and Facebook. How much responsibility do they have? Can they do anything about this?
Morozov: They definitely can, I mean, it’s a tension between how much money they will be able to make from the data and information that they accumulate, and how much social responsibilities they would like to carry. There are definitely efforts that these companies can join, it’s just that some of them do not yet recognize that they have the social responsibility.
Chiotakis: Evgeny Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom.” Thank you so much for being with us.
Morozov: Thanks so much for having me.
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