COMMENTARY | This week, the British Prime Minster suggested social media access should be cut off for anyone suspected of using it for evil purposes and Anonymous announced that it would take down Facebook on Nov. 5, 2011. As a former political/business consultant, an interesting question is put in my mind. What would be the difference in the impact on society if Facebook were taken down by Anonymous as opposed to the government doing it?
Remember that Egypt shut down access to the internet as a way to help calm down the unrest in the country. People around the world were outraged by the thought that a government would restrict access to the internet and social media as a way to help calm the progression of a revolt. Note that there are many countries, such as China, that block access to certain websites that might not meld with the ideas and ideals of the government. With the freedoms in the US, this would be difficult for the government to justify here.
If Anonymous is successful in taking down Facebook, I could see many people becoming discouraged. Of course, Twitter use would probably skyrocket on that day due to the need that we have to tell all of our "friends" useless information about our lives. We might even see an upswing of people talking on the phone for a few days until the social media giant could be restored. As a whole, I could see the average person trying to figure out other things to do other than being on Facebook for a day or two.
If the government were to take the exact same action, I would be surprised if there was not rioting in the streets. I could see young adults take to the street in protest over the government taking away a form of discussion and expression. This would be a move that would be considered as "un-American" and would drive the masses into the streets in droves like we have never seen before.
An odd circumstance that takes down Facebook annoys us. In all honesty, this happens to many of us on a weekly basis. If hackers like Anonymous were to take Facebook down, it would upset us, but we would figure out a way to make due. If the government were to take down Facebook, it would be one of the worst social upheavals of our time.
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