New Media or New Manipulation?

In “Constituents of a Theory of the Media”, by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, he talks about how with the rise of new forms of media come new forms of control.  Of course, he admits that this sort of control is not possible without the rise of a socialistic society; after all, so many forms of media cannot simply be censored.  There needs to be committees and other outlets in order to control new media and those who use it.  On the first page, he states that “all these new forms of media are constantly forming new connections, both with each other and with older media…They are clearly coming together to form a universal system.”

Enzensberger’s predictions of an Orwellian society in which all new media is controlled centers  primarily on socialism and the politics that would have to be involved.  But is the idea of Big Brother necessarily one born out of socialism?

Baudrillard would disagree.  He believes that this new media is social, but it is less about the politics and control and more about the aspects of how it affects life.

With these ever-changing forms of new media, we also have ever-changing forms of attempted ways to censorship said media.  In 2001, President Bush enacted the PATRIOT Act, in order to intercept and prevent terrorism.  Essentially, it allowed the government to tap into phone calls and other various forms of communication in order to stop terrorism.

America also has other organizations which monitor our media; advertisements are strictly regulated by several agencies that keep them from being untruthful or illegal and misleading.  And since these ads are broadcast over television and radio…

Now, however, with the internet being the biggest form of communication, we can see new attempts to regulate/censor/control this new medium.  SOPA and PIPA (The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Internet Protocol Act) were a fairly recent controversy.  Many websites on the internet blacked out and the hacker association, Anonymous, also hacked into government websites in protest.  People felt that the strict laws would infringe on their free speech and free expression, as they would ultimately end up causing half of the websites on the internet to be shut down for infringement issues, among them the popular Reddit, Tumblr, and YouTube.

Luke Johnson from The Huffington Post explains: “The legislation would allow copyright holders and the Justice Department to seek court orders against websites associated with copyright infringement. SOPA, the House version, applies to both domestic and foreign websites, while PIPA targets foreign websites. If that court order is granted, the entire website would be taken down. Internet users who typed in the site’s URL address would receive an error message, and for all appearances, the site would never have existed. Importantly, the court does not need to hear a defense from the actual website before issuing its ruling. The entire website can be condemned without a trial or even a traditional court hearing.” ( Here, you can read about it in more detail.)

It is easy to see then, why the bill did not receive popular support.  Since its emergence back in 2012, it has resurfaced under a different name, to the same amount of protests.  Neither bill was passed.

I can’t help but wonder, though, how either of the authors that we read for class would feel about these laws?  Thoughts?


2 thoughts on “New Media or New Manipulation?

  1. Nice input. I have always heard about governments in other countries monitoring citizens’ activities online, and through other things where you would think that people had privacy, but I never gave much thought to how much the United States government monitors U.S. citizens’ online activity and such. As U.S. citizens, we are led to believe that we do have some power and freedom, but we actually do not have that much power or that much freedom. Yes, compared to some other countries U.S. citizens do have more rights and freedoms, but we are still not as free as we would like to think.

  2. Pingback: Clarity and a Shout Out |

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