With the development of the times, the emergence of the Internet has brought great convenience to mankind. The rapid development of the Internet has also led to the birth of many new businesses, which have not only brought convenience to society but also changed the world. However, the rise of the Internet is inextricably linked to “freedom”. Designed with the ability to liberate organizations from restricted, hierarchically controlled local networks, the Internet was later understood as an inherently “liberating” tool for personal, political, and creative expression (Kelty, 2008). Thus, the concept of “freedom” is central to the Internet, but the lack of diversity in today’s Internet often limits its growth and affects the entire community of individuals. The emergence of some platforms has exacerbated the monopoly of industry giants and the lack of diversity. As well, the over-censorship of the Chinese Internet has led to a lack of diversity. This paper will illustrate why the lack of diversity affects the development of the Internet and what harm this lack of diversity has done to society and individuals.
First, the emergence of some online platforms has exacerbated the monopoly of industry giants and the lack of diversity. New technologies should support freedom, not restrict it. (Kelty, 2008) However, the development of digital platforms in the particular environment of the Internet has naturally led to the emergence of monopolies that limit the growth of the Internet. When economies of scale continue indefinitely, this leads to the largest companies having lower operating costs than their competitors, and natural monopolies emerge. (Mansell, 2022) Facebook is considered to be a natural monopolist that can serve a growing number of customers at a lower cost than its competitors. This makes users want to go to large platforms to concentrate, weakening competition in the digital economy and greatly increasing the barriers to entry. Data is the most important factor of production when it comes to digital platforms, which allows them to better understand what customers want and thus reduce search costs. Categorizing each product and providing technical specifications is one way to reduce search costs. (Mansell, 2022) Not only that, but Amazon, by consistently undercutting prices, has relied on financing writing to eventually crowd out competitors from the market, despite losing money year after year. (Kahn, 2019) This has made Amazon one of the world’s leading digital platforms. The natural monopoly phenomenon present has made it difficult for many different small digital platforms to enter the internet thus leading to a lack of diversity. However if only monopolies in the Internet economy did not lead to great consequences, but as the Internet and the real world become closer together, the elevated status of the Internet has led to these monopolistic digital platforms becoming the backbone of global capital. This has given digital platforms the ability to control social opinion. For example, with the help of algorithms, the power of Internet super platforms has a decisive role in political propaganda in the digital age. The Arab Spring, the BLM movement, the banning of Trump’s account, and a host of other events are likely just the prelude. This is also exacerbated by the practice of the “revolving door,” where regulators leave government positions at the end of their terms to enter the industries they regulate (Pickard, 2015). In addition, the rise of digital currencies has affected the country’s financial risk. The future of the metaverse is also full of unknown possibilities. As individuals, this can leave them without the right to choose the platform and thus be forced to accept the information delivered by the monopoly platform and thus be subliminally changed. On the other hand, the emergence of the metaverse proves that the development of the Internet is still progressive and the Internet is still being developed in new ways. However, the emergence of the metaverse still has many problems, such as the company that invented it, Meta, and if the future direction of the metaverse is determined by Meta, this is still proof of the lack of diversity caused by the monopoly phenomenon, and not only that, the contradiction between Meta and state regulation is also a problem. therefore, the emergence of some online platforms has exacerbated the monopoly phenomenon of industry giants and the lack of Diversity.
Second, the excessive censorship of the Chinese Internet has also led to a lack of diversity. The Chinese Internet is a unique presence. It is classified in O’Hara and Hall (2018) as one of the four major Internets. The Chinese Internet is isolated from the world, and in China, it is called a “wall”, and people inside the “wall” cannot use software such as Google, YouTube, etc. There are various reasons for this. There are various reasons for this. One is that in the development stage to allow Chinese Internet companies to grow better rather than Google, YouTube, Amazon and other technology giants directly began to compete. As it turns out, Chinese companies such as Taobao, Tencent, and Baidu did become world giants under the Chinese umbrella. Second, it is to make it easier to manage its Internet environment. For China, the Internet is a boon for surveillance. (O’Hara and Hall, 2018) China uses the technology companies under it to manage the entire direction of the Internet.
For example, the Chinese Communist Party tightened its control over Internet users before the 20th National Congress. This subsequently led to the closure of 1.34 billion social media accounts and the deletion of 22 million posts, citing violations of platform-related regulations. (Gu&Chen, 2022) Not only that, but Chinese celebrities can also be banned for saying the wrong thing. High-profile pro-Chinese Communist Party and leftist social media stars have recently been banned from posting, including pro-Chinese Communist Party and anti-American pundit Sima Nan, whose recent admission that he owns a house in California sparked a social media storm. (Gu&Chen, 2022) This has led to him not being unblocked to date. Most of the reasons for the violation, besides swearing, were due to statements of different ideologies, in other words, due to political factors. Schneider (2019) shows that in China, ethnicity and technology are deeply intertwined, leading to a more complex situation. Its highly sensitive politics restrict much of the online speech as well as its development. It has also sparked extreme discontent among Chinese Internet users. For example, as one user from the northeast put it, “If we had freedom, then we wouldn’t have all this online surveillance.”
“It may depend entirely on which phrase you say is wrong, which sensitive keyword, a specific word,” she said.” They look at your post or message and tell the local police department, and then they talk to you.” (Gu & Chen, 2022) The Internet itself is an existence tied to “freedom,” but in China, rising regulation has prevented users from properly expressing their opinions and threatened real life. The seemingly harmonious Chinese Internet is a place where different ideas cannot be expressed, which limits the development of the Internet and defeats the purpose for which it was created. On the other hand, the special regulation of the Chinese Internet does play a role in maintaining social stability, as the Chinese government can quickly stop major events before they happen, such as monitoring instability in Xinjiang. (The Economist, 2018), social credit mechanisms, etc. This all allows China to better manage the stability of its society. However, Chinese regulation is always too extreme, for example, sensitive terms are not only restricted to swear words and reactionary speech, but likewise the names of Chinese political figures, and some bloody terms are likewise restricted, Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, has since been deliberately hidden or blocked on Chinese video platforms because netizens say he resembles the animated character Winnie the Pooh. Thus, the excessive censorship of the Chinese Internet has also led to a lack of diversity.
In conclusion, it is clear why the lack of diversity affects the development of the Internet and what harm the lack of diversity brings to society and individuals. In summary, commercial giants in online platforms use monopolies to limit the development of the Internet, and the giants can secure their interests and limit the development of their competitors using monopolies. Not only that, but they can also control public opinion to influence society and individuals. Therefore, it is undeniable that the Internet has made the world feel more different than ever before, but at the same time, the Internet is not fully developed in society, so the development of the Internet still needs a lot of discussions.
Gu Ting and Chen Zifei（2022）China steps up domestic censorship, overseas propaganda ahead of party congress.Avaliable from https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/party-congress-08242022125131.html
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