Everyone is likely to find themselves in diverse environments, such as societies, universities, and workplaces. The internet is also a place that offers diverse cultures, religions, political views, gender identities, ethnicity, etc. Although the internet allows people to have access to the information they want, it also forms a digital world that is filled with uncensored messages, unverified news, biased opinions, etc. The lack of diversity on the internet will influence many aspects of modern societies that people might not be aware of. Among all the problems, this article will focus on three major aspects and discuss how the lack of diversity harms societies and individuals.
“Diversity in internet freedom” by Andreas Reventlow is licensed under
Imbalance in the Internet Usage by Race and Ethnicity
The internet is a global channel that allows people from every corner of the world to communicate, connect and express themselves. The evolution of the internet has successfully made itself into a society that offers a number of social media platforms, forums, and websites to let users share their opinions, post information, sell products, and even propagandize ideas. The interest can be used as a tool to make an influence depending on the popularity of the content. People tend to follow and believe the information and content from the most hits videos, most popular feeds, and the people who have millions of followers. However, there is an apparent difference in the population with internet usage by ethnicity. The consequence is that the ethnic group that uses the interest most will have the loudest voice and more opinions expressed. Vice versa, the ethnic group that is not often or active in the interest has the smallest voice and influence. Banerjee and Hodge (2007) find that the difference in internet usage exists within the categories of white and non-white and their engagements on the internet. The imbalance of internet usage causes an unequal society thus imbalanced force and hierarchy. To illustrate an example, the racial group of white in the United States has the highest percentage of internet usage than other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Asian and Black follow behind with about 85 percent. However, it is worth noticing that Hispanics and other racial and ethnic backgrounds only make up about 78 percent, which shows a contrast with the group of white. Therefore, more white participate on the internet and their voices are more likely to be seen and shared than others.
“Internet usage penetration in the United States from 2016 to 2021, by ethnicity” by Statista is licensed under https://www.statista.com/statistics/590784/internet-usage-reach-usa-ethnicity/
The authenticity of the Information and the Special Case of China
Information is always overloaded and overwhelming on the internet, and sometimes it is not easy to identify and verify its authenticity. News can be told and reported differently on different social media platforms depending on their political ideologies. Mass media has the power to reach a wide range of populations and influence their thoughts, which can be seen as propaganda machines.
For example, the diversity of perspectives creates different opinions that can either strengthen or undermine democracy and capitalism (Gentzkow & Shapiro, 2013). As a result, information is manipulated by only a few major media companies, and the public has no way of witnessing the reality or knowing the truth. The internet is quickly modifying the way cultures and countries express themselves. For instance, a lot of information about Africa is usually presented not through their own vision but by others.
China is a unique country in terms of the use of the internet as it is excluded from the global internet and created its own. Instead of social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, China has its own, and the entire internet is completely excluded from the world using the Great Firewall. In the background of omnipresent government regulation, the goal of the Great Firewall is to block access to foreign-based websites (Taneja & Wu, 2014). It is, in a way, restricting Chinese internet users’ voices and behaviors. As a result, a lot of information about China is not accurate and its country’s image is absent from the world. While Chinese internet users cannot see the outside world, the outside world is also unaware of the Chinese views and what is happening within the Great Firewall. This creates an information discrepancy in the representation of China.
The Digital Language Divide
The language used on the internet creates a digital divide that significantly limits the potential of people who speak another different language. It is a challenge to establish a knowledgeable society and have access to information worldwide. English is the first language used on the internet and made up eighty percent of the information by the mid-1990s (Young, n.d.). The experience of the internet can be greatly affected by languages as people often only rely on online engagement and communication in their own languages. In addition, each language forms a community where people who speak the same language can identify with each other.
“The Most Used Languages on the Internet” by Visual Capitalist is licensed under
Although there are more languages that are getting popular on the internet, English still makes up as high as 60.4% of the top 10m websites, while its speaking population is only 16.2% (Bhutada, 2021). This gives people from English-speaking countries and regions more opportunities to express their ideas, which is likely to have a greater influence on the internet overall. As people in underdeveloped countries cannot take advantage of the internet and present their opinions, their images and voices are likely to be informed and defined by others. As a result, wealthy and developed countries usually give the definition for themselves, while relatively less developed countries are being defined by them. In short, those who do not have access to contribute to the digital world of the internet tend to be misrepresented, and the voices from the countries that speak popular languages tend to be stronger. Moreover, although people can automatically translate the language of the website or any other online content, the translations are usually not accurate or suitable. Language is key to giving people insight into a culture, and each language has unique expressions. Thus, information is likely to be misread and understood.
In conclusion, diversity is extremely important in modern society as it encourages social cohesion and equality and maintains a better internet environment. It is important to create an online community that is safe and free, especially for groups that are not accurately represented in society. This article discussed and analyzed three aspects of diversity on the internet. Racial disparities in internet usage can influence the spread of the information and create unverified and biased opinions. Also, the information displayed on the internet can be twisted that can easily influence people’s way of thinking and decisions. Each individual and society’s decisions are important to the next generation and future development. Thus, it is dangerous to let the media control how people think. And languages provide inclusive environments that limit a certain amount of information being effectively accessed.
Banerjee, S., & Hodge, A. (2007). Internet Usage: A Within Race Analysis. Race, Gender &
Class, 14(3/4), 228–246. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41675301
Bhutada, G. (2021, March 26). Visualizing the Most Used Languages on the Internet. Visual
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Gentzkow, M., & Shapiro, J. (2013, June). Ideology in the News Media. National Bureau of
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Taneja, H., & Wu, A. X. (2014, October 2). Does the Great Firewall Really Isolate the
Chinese? Integrating Access Blockage With Cultural Factors to Explain Web User
Behavior. The Information Society, 30(5), 297–309.
Young, H. (n.d.). The Digital Language Divide. The Guardian. Retrieved October 3, 2022,