How Blogging Works in Different Countries: Threatening? Connecting? Conspiracy?

October 19, 2009

Although blogging in America is starting to change the face of social media by allowing more transparency to take place, It is interesting to understand how blogging works in countries where “freedom of speech” is not in their norm. This post illustrates how powerful communication is the way bloggers cling onto the need to stay connected where their inner voice has stayed dormant for years by government law. According to, Blogging in Asia by Leozelle Gatoc from Suite101.com, an MSN study was done in countries in Asia to depict how blogs became a medium for social connection and self-expression:

Burma

In 2007, Burma had international journalists and monks that entered where citizens ended up leaking military information on the Internet. They government wanted to find the ones sending out antigovernment information. For that, the Burmese government went as far as demanding that the internet connection be slowed down to dial-up speed while also closing internet cafes just so it would hinder journalists and bloggers from sending information properly.

Tibet

Tibet is so small that their most influential writer and blogger named Woeser was detained for allegedly taking pictures of military installations. Tibet has always been a place of problems and “persecutions.” Just think how one blogger had an influential effect and dealt with repercussions.

Malaysia

The Internal Security Act in Malaysia put Raja Petra Kamaruddin, journalist and blogger of Malaysia Today, detained without trial after being charged of sedition on an article that linked to the Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak to Altantuya Shaaribuu, a Mongolian woman murdered.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • According to a study done by the University of Washington annual report, 64 bloggers were arrested for criticizing the government in Asia.
  • In Egypt, China and Iran it was found that most of the arrests took place in those countries.
  • Around 344 people arrested in Burma were thought to be bloggers.

Obviously, the government possesses a power of demand that shouldn’t be manipulated with. This all depicts how influential communication is while the need to communicate is at high risk. According to China blocks Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail ahead of Tiananmen anniversary, by Tania Branigan of The Guardian newspaper, access to Flickr, twitter, and Hotmail had been denied two days before the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protest. In prior months before this event and after, even blogger.com and YouTube (being the latter) have been cut off in fears of people gathering online to discuss sensitive topics online that can lead to protests.

Blogger, Michael Anti discussed his uneasiness about the situation saying that twitter is a crucial icon for the new Internet era where innovations emerge and that it is not good for China to deny the people the ability to move forward with social media.

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8 Responses to “How Blogging Works in Different Countries: Threatening? Connecting? Conspiracy?”

  1. Jenn Shunfenthal said

    In countries where traditionally they have limited free speech, it does not surprise me that they will try to limit it at all costs online. Governments have realized the threat of bloggers because of their ability to gain a following through free speech. However, I think that tech savvy people in those countries will find a way to eventually override the internet lock downs these governments are imposing. I think this because on the web when one speaks out they are not immediately and as easily directly punished. In a protest online, governments can not use mace or any direct harmful tools, instead they have to identify who is writing and where that person is writing from. That is the beauty of blogging in these countries where governments repress free speech.

    • Angeline Vo said

      The thing is, even though bloggers will not get immediately or directly punished, China has such strict laws against this kindof freedom, that they will track you down and arrest you. I read this article that said that this blogger was arrested and been detained for unknown reasons. He allegedly had information against the Communist Party. China has deep roots in censoring what they don’t want to take place. For example, you’re not allowed to bring a book written by the Dailai Lama to China since the Dailai lama no longer has affiliations with China since the reign of Mao. They will confiscate it. Just think, a blogger couldn’t really blog on his love for the Dailai Lama could he? It’s harsh but true.

  2. Kate Sutherland said

    I agree with Jenn when she says that it’s not surprising that countries with limited free speech within their own country would also be limited to their speech online where many other countries have the ability to see what they’re posting. I think though, as Jenn said, if someone really wanted to get around the Internet usage restrictions they could do something like use public usage computers and sign in under strange names. I do think that suppressing speech is wrong, but there are times when you wonder how far is too far. I know this week on Youtube someone was threatening that they were going to do another Virginia Tech killing. It’s so hard to find that person and make sure that they really don’t because on the Internet anyone can be anyone.

    • Angeline Vo said

      It is hard to track people down yes. China has this tactic of not allowing people to obtain information by blocking information so their people won’t be tainted by the online abundance of junk. How far do you think they can go with censoring online communication? They’ve done it in the past with regular books and readings during the reign of Mao.

  3. Lauren Babbage said

    I really enjoyed this post, mainly because I had never even thought of how other countries have reacted to the new social media wave. I agree with Jenn and Kate and I think it’s interesting that 344 people in Burma were arrested because they were thought to be bloggers. This just boggles my mind because it’s almost the complete opposite as it is here in America. If you are not blogging, you seem to be the outcast and people are wondering what is wrong with you. It really just goes to show that we are so wrapped up in our little American ‘bubbl’e that we don’t even realize how lucky we are to eve be able to have our own website we can write our thoughts on.

    • Angeline Vo said

      I like what you said about how we don’t even realize how lucky we are to be able to have our own website and write what we want. 344 people arrested for being thought of as a bloggers. How much conspiracy can a government waste its time on do you think?

  4. Michelle Goydan said

    This post actually didn’t surprise me at all. In another class in relation to free speech was brought up but used the example of China. I can’t remember exact details but it was definitely similar to these examples that they were very strict with regulation over the internet where the government flat out deleted sights or anything they thought was inappropriate. One of their main reasons for such a tight regulation was because they believed unauthorized sights could cause chaos or even over throw of the government. The internet here has developed into such an uncontrollable platform the stuff like Kate mention is hard to manage. I think since we are used to such a wide verity of free speech nothing seems to surprise us anymore and we glance away. People in other countries may be more likely to flow as it could be their movement into more freedom.

  5. Angeline Vo said

    I also think that China and the other countries I mentioned above strict control on speech is their way of regulating. We have our own ways of regulating as well and since we have had them for many years, it foreign to us that countries like China are censoring any bit of conspiracy detail.

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