In this day and age of technological advancement, going digital in everything that we do is the new way of life. Anyone has the power to start something – either good or bad – just through the internet, from social media sites to any digital marketing. However, there comes a point where even if you post something anonymously on the internet, very dangerous people can trace and hunt you down. Especially when you post something which is very controversial and can cost others their image. This is why, even with the unlimited space on the internet, people are still wary of their well-being, which caused them to start self-censoring.
It’s not only about expressing our own fundamental rights when it comes to the ability to express our thoughts and ideas. It also enables others to enjoy theirs by igniting public discussion, expanding the free and open flow of ideas, and enlightening people about key topics, so they can make informed voting decisions. Which is why self-censorship is such a serious danger to democracy: it restricts the spread of information and limits knowledge and understanding, whether it is conducted by journalists or even the public at large. It creates a vacuum into which the government or its accomplices may step in and redefine truth and persuade voters via manipulation and misinformation. It is evident not just in historically authoritarian regimes, but also in a growing number of other countries.
However, many brands today are stepping up their game and decide to integrate their digital marketing with activism as well. This act itself is a turning point for the public since almost all businesses prefer to keep themselves away from any controversial topics. But, seeing famous and established brands continue with digital activism, it consequently paves the way for the public to avoid self-censorship and be more open with their speech. This is why digital marketing in Malaysia and other parts of the world today, have involved themselves in activism with brand marketing. Many still question these brands, if what they are doing is genuine or simply a marketing strategy. Regardless, this article aims to uncover the power of digital activism and whether it helps against self-censorship.
The impact of self-censorship on freedom of expression.
Most of us restrict what we say on a daily basis in order to comply with societal conventions. Others who have controversial opinions are unwilling to discuss them with people they don’t trust. But this isn’t what we mean when we say “self-censorship,” but rather the “social filter” that we all use, and for good cause. The problem comes when this “social filter” is gradually enlarged to encompass more and more subjects, leading to further self-censorship and greater stifling of public discussion and expression.
Individuals are also growing more hesitant to express their opinions due to a concerted push by far-right movements and related media to foment division and divisiveness. Their extremist viewpoints are extensively disseminated. This can inspire those on the other end of the political spectrum to speak up, but it is especially harmful to moderates, who are more prone to self-censor for fear of being chastised by both sides.
As a result, most people self-censor in order to prevent professional or personal harm. A newspaper may self-censor its content to safeguard its revenue by avoiding the wrath of its readers or advertisers. Alternatively, they may self-censor because particular rules or regulations prevent them from publishing something that they would otherwise publish. However, one of the most dangerous forms of self-censorship is when the person or entity censoring themselves feels pressured or threatened to do so.
How digital activism can help.
A rising trend among companies in recent years, particularly around 2020, has been an emphasis on diversity, authenticity, and responsibility. The dawn of a new age was marked by the Black Lives Movement, which saw numerous companies take a position against institutional racism and police brutality. Companies have made solemn vows and denounced the conduct of police agencies who failed to operate in good faith, putting themselves on the front lines of social concerns that continue to haunt our society. They aided the cause by uploading blacked-out Instagram photos or tweets to raise public notice.
Because most brands did not have a direct contact route with their consumers before the emergence of social media, not every company felt inclined to take a statement on social problems. Consumers did not anticipate to hear where their favourite clothes and beverage businesses stood on certain social issues at the time of this. Companies now have a great tool to develop a direct engagement with their consumers thanks to social media, which has raised consumer expectations for brands to express their thoughts on issues they care about.
When well-known brands are making headlines and marketing on social issues, this would also affect consumers’ beliefs and thoughts on the matter. Companies and brands are not the only ones that can perform digital activism, influencers, celebrities and members of the public can join in as well. This would consequently limit the act of self-censorship while building a better tomorrow for society and human rights.
More articles like this here.