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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Yet for all the talk about the democratizing power of the Internet, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever.

In fact, authoritarian governments are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, hone their surveillance techniq "The revolution will be Twittered!

In fact, authoritarian governments are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, hone their surveillance techniques, disseminate cutting-edge propaganda, and pacify their populations with digital entertainment. Could the recent Western obsession with promoting democracy by digital means backfire? In this spirited book, journalist and social commentator Evgeny Morozov shows that by falling for the supposedly democratizing nature of the Internet, Western do-gooders may have missed how it also entrenches dictators, threatens dissidents, and makes it harder - not easier - to promote democracy.

Buzzwords like "21st-century statecraft" sound good in PowerPoint presentations, but the reality is that "digital diplomacy" requires just as much oversight and consideration as any other kind of diplomacy.

Marshaling compelling evidence, Morozov shows why we must stop thinking of the Internet and social media as inherently liberating and why ambitious and seemingly noble initiatives like the promotion of "Internet freedom" might have disastrous implications for the future of democracy as a whole.

Get A Copy. Published January 1st by PublicAffairs first published November 16th More Details Original Title. Goldsmith Book Prize for Trade Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Net Delusion , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3.

Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Nov 08, BlackOxford rated it really liked it Shelves: epistemology-language , technology , slavic. Morozov was one of the first to recognize this as a likely possibility years before Donald Trump executed his coup of the American Republican Party and Vladimir Putin mounted his successful cyber-attack on the US elections.

The prevailing wisdom before Twitter and Facebook and the virtually infinite blogosphere was that the free flow of information and opinion was a path not just to factual general truth about the world but to the specific truth of liberal democracy. Democratic states are only formally constructed on constitutions.

What matters practically in their functioning is a complex network of institutions - the press and other news media, political parties, lobbyists, and technical experts from the corporate world and academia to name only a few.

We depend upon them to filter, and sift, and verify what purport to be facts of the world. But the internet has a major institutional advantage over these traditional sources of public information: cost.

Social apps are private and commercially developed. Bloggers get sponsors or produce their editorials for nothing. It looks therefore like the perfect link between corporate capitalism and liberal democracy. The flaw in this train of thought is that corporate commerciality has little interest in the distinction between fact and fiction.

What sells, sells. To put the matter succinctly: truth has precisely zero commercial value. By by-passing other institutions, the internet eliminates the myriad of epistemological checks and balances that exist in a democratic culture. Twitter has no interest in the veracity of his tweets, just their effect on the size of their customer base. And as Russian and Chinese hackers have demonstrated beyond doubt, fake news can be inserted freely into technological networks for many purposes other than self-promotion.

The absence of epistemological filtering means that all ideas and opinions are equal. In fact, the more outrageous, the more popular, and therefore the more commercial, the higher commercial value they have. The internet is not Radio Free Europe on steroids; it is The National Enquirer delivered to every house and on every billboard in the country.

Whatever tendency there is in the United States to believe in conspiracies - from Communists under the bed to fluoride diluting natural essences - has been magnified by orders of magnitude. Or even if they are still relevant after our experience during the 8 years since his book was published.

What is clear, however, is that very few technological or sociological pundits have a clue about the likely impact of technology, especially its impact on political systems. That, and that there are a lot more surprises in store. View all comments. Feb 13, Michael Burnam-Fink rated it liked it Shelves: , sts. Morozov is on a crusade against 'Internetic-centric foreign policy' and 'cyber-utopianism', which he describes as a constellation of power interests linking Silicon Valley tech companies Google, Twitter, Facebook with Cold Warriors Cheney, Clinton, Rumsfeld in a profoundly misguided and dangerous effort to promote democracy overseas through technology.

He argues that rather than being an unalloyed force for freedom, the internet can be used in many ways that strengthen authoritarian regimes. The evidence for that last claim is overwhelming: I doubt a single case of 'internet abuse' between and has been left out of the book. For that first claim, that the tech companies and Cold Warriors are in alliance, Morozov's evidence is much more hand-wavey. A few speeches, a few NSA sponsored trips, some conference reports.

What this book does not have, and what it really needs, is a theory to organize these disparate elements into a coherent whole. Political power and the governance of internet technologies are complex issues, but the role of the public intellectual to render these complex issues, if not simple, at least comprehensible. Morozov gestures at the fact that the tools used to crack down on pedophiles, terrorists, media piracy, and spam in the West are the same tools used to crack down on activists and dissidents in authoritarians regimes, but he doesn't explain what this conflict means for those of us who would enjoy both a free world and an orderly internet.

Likewise, he doesn't address why some states are 'democracies' and some states are 'authoritarian'. Sure, the US just throws Code Pink activists out of Senate hearings while Russia murders journalists, but why is some power legitimate and some illegal?

Most tellingly, for someone who is all about promoting 'cyber-realism', he is blurry on the specifics of what should be done aside from localizing policy-which leads to embarrassing situations like the tweets from the US Embassy in Egypt.

These days, both democracies and authoritarian regimes use the internet for the same reason they use trucks to transport soldiers, or have their citizens breath air; it'd be impossible not to. But a covert organization has different information strategies from a mass protest, and a mass protest is different from a revolutionary army or transitional government.

This lack of theory exacerbates the other problem with a lack of theoretical perspective; the inability to incorporate new information.

This book was published in , which means it was probably written in , but Morozov hasn't substantially updated his thinking to include the Arab Spring and divergent outcomes in Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Syria etc.

Wikileaks barely gets a mention, despite the diplomatic cable leaks beginning in February If there was a theory to The Net Delusion , you could ask how new information fits into or changes the framework. Even in a popular book that is less rigorous than an academic treatise, you need to do more to contextualize your ideas than wave at Foucault, Langdon Winner, George F.

Kennan and so on. Apr 03, Shua rated it it was amazing Shelves: technology. Few things delight me as much as a contrarian. I enjoy reading Wired magazine; its a welcome blast of techno-optimism every month. And yet Wired magazine stands out for its high concentration of "the Internets shower the masses with freedom and young entrepreneurs will solve all of life's minor inconveniences"! Wired is not alone in this attitude and is not the worst; its just an easy target for me because I actually read it.

I avoid the other stuff. Evgeny Morozov picks apart many of the assum Few things delight me as much as a contrarian. Evgeny Morozov picks apart many of the assumptions that are held by those entranced by "cyber-utopianism". This book reminds me that, yes, the Internet kicks ass, but it is a tool that can misused by individuals, corporations, and governments. As Morozov says, "technology is NOT neutral".

For example, my axe is awesome. It splits wood and opens wine bottles. It is also very dangerous in the hands of urban dwellers who think that axes were made for solving zombie infestations. Technology can be used to "spread freedom and diminish the power of autocracies". Technology can be used to rapidly distribute disinformation and increase the effectiveness of political oppression. Morozov reminds me to take a deep breath, slow down, and remember to think things through. The Internet is amazing, but not all the time.

Sometimes the Internet is a real jerk. Mar 28, Doug rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction. I remember reading an article saying how the internet is making us dumber , and I was cynical on how some pundits claim that this same internet is introducing democracy to despotic regimes through Facebook and the Twitter Revolution and whatnot Malcolm Gladwell also has a good take on this.


The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom

O n 21 January , US secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a speech at the delightfully named Newseum — America's leading "interactive museum of news" — announcing "internet freedom" as a core foreign policy concern. Morozov, a young Belarusian-born writer and researcher now based in the US, doesn't mince his words. But The Net Delusion is considerably more than an assault on political rhetoric; for, it argues, behind many of the fine words recently spoken in praise of technology lies a combination of utopianism and ignorance that grossly misrepresents the internet's political role and potentials. Unless we are very careful, he suggests, the democratising power of new media will in fact bring not democracy and freedom, but the entrenchment of authoritarian regimes. Two delusions in particular concern Morozov: "cyber-utopianism", the belief that the culture of the internet is inherently emancipatory; and "internet-centrism", the belief that every important question about modern society and politics can be framed in terms of the internet. Put so starkly, such extreme beliefs may sound laughable, yet he sees them in action everywhere: from the misguided belief that Twitter could foment revolution in Iran in on the eve of the elections, the country had fewer than 20, Twitter users to the naive hope that instant international exposure via new media will necessarily result in a diminishing of violence in Africa and the Middle East.


The Net Delusion



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