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About Moral Panics in the Contemporary World

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Media and Crime - Moral Panics

Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Moral Panics in the Contemporary World represents the best current theoretical and empirical work on the topic, taken from the international conference on moral panics held at Brunel University.

The range of contributors, from established scholars to emerging ones in the field, and from a working journalist as well, helps to cover a wide range of moral panics, both old and new, and extend the geographical scope of moral panic analysis to previously underrepresented areas. Designed from the outset to comprise a coherent and integrated set of viewpoints which share a common engagement with critically exploring moral panics in the contemporary world, it contains case studies instantly recognisable and familiar to a student readership drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse and racism.

The collection brings a fresh approach to analysis and argument by testing and extending the concept of moral panic and analyzing a range of topics and geographical contexts, accurately reflecting the state-of-the-art moral panics research today. Passar bra ihop. Media and Public Shaming Julian Petley. In some cases, the discussion seems to imply that the absence of Facebook from Myanmar would solve, or even improve, the conflict that has been going on for 70 years. Interestingly, the New York Times article that broke this story notes that pro-democracy officials in Myanmar say Facebook was essential for the democratic transition that brought them into office in Reviving the Russian menace.

Russia-sponsored social media use during the election provides yet another example of the moral panic around social media and the avalanche of bitter exaggeration that goes with it.


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Indeed, the election marks the undisputed turning point in public attitudes toward social media. For many Americans, the election of Donald Trump came as a shocking and unpleasant surprise. In searching for an explanation of what initially seemed inexplicable, however, the nexus between the election results, Russian influence operations, and social media has become massively inflated.

It overlooks, too, the strength of the Bernie Sanders challenge and the way the Clinton-controlled Democratic National Committee alienated his supporters. How much more comforting it was to focus on a foreign power and its use of social media than to face up to the realities of a politically polarized America and the way politicians and their crews peddle influence to a variety of foreign states and interests.

As references to foreign election interference became deeply embedded in the public discourse, the threat could be further inflated to one of national security. And so suddenly, the regulation of political speech got on the agenda of Congress, and millions of liberals and progressives became born-again Cold Warriors, all too willing to embrace nationalistic controls on information flows. What if they had been leaked by a 21st-century Daniel Ellsberg instead of the Russians? Would that also be considered election interference?

Disclosures of compromising information e. Is that election interference? The Death of Democracy. Some critics go so far as to claim that democracy itself is threatened by the existence of open social media platforms. Is it too late to stop it? In its worst and most simple-minded form, the mere ability of foreign governments to put messages on social media platforms is taken as proof that the entire country is being controlled by them.

The only evidence offered is simple counts of the number of Russian trolls and bots and their impressions — numbers that look unimpressive compared to the spread of a single Donald Trump tweet. Television remains more important by a large margin. In advancing what they think of as sophisticated claims that social media are being weaponized, the joke is on our putative cybersecurity experts: it is Russian and Chinese doctrine that the free flow of information across borders is a subversive force that challenges their national sovereignty.

This doctrine, articulated in a code of conduct by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, was designed to rationalize national blocking and filtering of internet content. Any one of these accusations — the destruction of public discourse, responsibility for ethnic cleansing and hate speech, abetting a Russian national security threat, and the destruction of democracy — would be serious enough.

Their combination in a regularly repeated catechism constitutes a moral panic. Moral panics should inspire caution because they produce policy reactions that overshoot the mark. A fearful public can be stampeded into legal or regulatory measures that serve a hidden agenda. Targeted actors can be scapegoated and their rights and interests discounted. Freedom-enhancing policies and proportionate responses to problems never emerge from moral panics.

Moral panic - Wikipedia

One antidote to moral panic is historical perspective. In some cases, debate of a new medium brings about — indeed changes into — heated, emotional reactions.


  1. Darts of Deceit.
  2. Table of Contents;
  3. Challenging the Social Media Moral Panic: Preserving Free Expression under Hypertransparency?
  4. We can all agree that literacy is a good thing. The expansion of literacy from a tiny elite to the general population scared a lot of conservatives. Those who feared wider literacy believed that it generated conflict and disruption. In fact, it already had. The disintermediation of authority over the interpretation of the written word by the printing press and by wider literacy created centrifugal forces.

    Description

    Protestants had split with Catholics, and later, different Protestant sects formed around different interpretations of scripture. Commercial media that responded to what the people wanted were not perceived kindly by those who thought they knew best. Yet are these observations an argument for keeping people illiterate?

    If not, then what, exactly, do these concerns militate for? A controlled, censored press? Who in those days would have been made the arbiter of public interest? The Pope? Absolutist kings? Radio broadcasting was an important revolution in mass media technology. It seems to have escaped the intense, concentrated panic we are seeing around contemporary social media, but in the United States, where broadcasting had relatively free and commercial origins, those in power felt threatened by its potential to evolve into an independent medium.

    Thomas Hazlett has documented the way the Federal Radio Act and the regulatory commission it created later to become the Federal Communications Commission nationalized the airwaves in order to keep the new medium licensed and under the thumb of Congress. There is another relevant parallel between radio and social media. Totalitarian dictatorships, particularly Nazi Germany, employed radio broadcasting extensively in the s. But oddly, our current panic tends to promote and support precisely the types of regulation and control favored by those very same modern dictatorships and illiberal democracies: centralized content moderation and blocking by the state and holding social media platforms responsible for the postings of their users.

    Comic books generated a media panic in the s and 50s. The presence of weirdness, violence, horror, and sexually tinged images led to charges that the comics were dangerous, addictive, and catered to baser instincts. A comic-book scare ensued, complete with a flood of newspaper stories, Congressional hearings, and a transformation of the comic book industry.

    The comic-book scare seems to have pioneered the three themes that characterize so much public discourse around new media in the 20th century: anti-commercialism, protecting children, and addiction. All are echoed in the current fight over social media. The same themes sounded in policy battles over television. In examining historical cases, it becomes apparent that it is the retailers and instigators of media panic who generally pose the biggest threat to free expression and democracy.

    The more sophisticated variants of these critiques are rationalizations of paternalism and authoritarianism.

    Moral Panics in the Contemporary World

    In the social media panic, we have both conservative and liberal elites recoiling from the prospect of a public sphere over which they have lost control, and both are preparing the way for regulatory mechanisms that can tame diversity, homogenize output, and maintain their established place in society. A recent exchange on Twitter exposed the policy vacuity of those leading the social media moral panic. There was no answer. Here is the diagnosis I would offer. As a direct result of that, there are more informational interactions than ever before and more mutual exchanges between people.

    This human activity, in all its glory, gore, and squalor, generates storable, searchable records, and its users leave attributable tracks everywhere. As noted before, the emerging new world of social media is marked by hypertransparency. From the standpoint of free expression and free markets there is nothing inherently broken about this; on the contrary, most of the critics are unhappy precisely because the model is working: it is unleashing all kinds of expression and exchanges, and making tons of money at it to boot. But two distinct sociopolitical pathologies are generated by this.

    The first is that, by exposing all kinds of deplorable uses and users, it tends to funnel outrage at these manifestations of social deviance toward the platform providers. A man discovers pedophiles commenting on YouTube videos of children and is sputtering with rage at.

    Passar bra ihop

    Instead of trying to stop or control the objectionable behavior, we strive to control the communications intermediary that was used by the bad actor. Instead of eliminating the crime, we propose to deputize the intermediary to recognize symbols of the crime and erase them from view.

    And even as we do this, we hypocritically complain about China and its alleged development of an all-embracing social credit system based on online interactions.