To what extent has a lack of diversity influenced the development of the internet? How does this lack of diversity harm societies and individuals?
The fast growth of the Internet has significantly influenced human civilization, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, when most people depend on the Internet for real-time news and data. As a result, the Internet is firmly integrated into every aspect of people’s lives. As the Internet has evolved through two stages, from WEB1.0 to WEB3.0, The Internet Ecosystem has also undergone significant changes (Stocker et al.,2017). The most significant changes are interactivity, equality, and diversity. Individuals who have access to Internet and network services can benefit from the Internet (Mechant, 2012). On the one hand, it offers many unprecedented opportunities for internet users, yet in recent years, concerns about inequality and diversity of the Internet have steadily emerged. Therefore, this article will investigate the prospects for a lack of diversity in the Internet era from the multi-perspectives of politics, economics, and culture, as well as exemplify its adverse effects on individuals and societies.
Lack of diversity on internet platforms
The most notable phenomenon is the monopoly of Internet giants in the Internet field. Specifically, people’s excessive use of a certain medium may progressively cause a certain platform to become dominant, and other niche media platforms may be eliminated. Under the influence of the development of big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other technologies, several Internet giants such as Alibaba, Amazon, Google, and Tencent have gradually transformed their existing models and developed new economic organizations and business models (Lin et al., 2022). However, the development of Internet platforms is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the Internet platform economy optimizes resource allocation, promotes economic development, and provides convenience to people’s lives (Lin et al., 2022); on the other hand, with the expansion of Internet platforms, some platform companies use their market power and capital accumulation to abuse their market position and engage in other monopolistic behaviors in order to make profits (Srnicek，2017). For instance, Chinese tech giant Alibaba has monopoly tactics and is being verdict by regulators over abused its dominant market position. In this way, the monopolistic behavior of Internet platforms will cause confusion in the market order, as the lack of competition will affect market innovation. Hence internet users may not be able to experience better products and services. Additionally, individuals’ legitimate rights and interests are violated when their freedom of choose is restricted, resulting in a lack of competition in the market, and the price of services rises, leading in compelled consumption. Moreover, in South Korea, consortiums directly intervene in the political world to control the government and media companies. As a result, the information the public receives is manipulated, and any information detrimental to consortiums interests may be concealed by the intervention of power, which leads to the lack of authenticity of social events or news.
The Untouchable Chaebols of South Korea | Open Secrets by VICE Asia. All rights reserved. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jFZge6V_is.
Lack of diversity in political messaging
Political manipulation of the Internet can lead to a lack of diversity. Since Internet filters include a recording function, the user’s browsing history is used to predict the user’s preferences to recommend relevant information. Thus, when a user uses internet to search, the server background automatically comes up the most relevant information based on the user’s browsing preferences, and the information gained by the user is just what the search engine wants the user to get (Pariser, 2011). Suppose this phenomenon is implemented in the realm of politics, in that case, it will harm citizens and society greatly as the Internet can now be used as a platform for propagating political means or political positions (Morozov, 2012). The consequence of the internet’s tendency towards centrism is that an increasing number of individuals perceive all political and social changes via the internet, thus influencing individuals’ political stance (Morozov, 2012). However, it may seem that individuals will just get a subset of the information and not be exposed to a variety of perspectives and topics. It will eventually lead to group polarization and excessive cognitive prejudice (Iandoli, Primario & Zollo, 2021). Then, individuals may become unwilling to tolerate beliefs that are contrary to their own and become quite extreme (Iandoli, Primario & Zollo, 2021). However, if all the extremists congregate, the society will become susceptible to riots. It can refer to the Hong Kong protests 2019. Moreover, during the pandemic, some excessive patriots advocated nationalistic sentiments, which led to many false rumors on social networks, such as “The Coronavirus was spread and invented by a certain country.” However, this type of “public opinion war” is also conducted through inciting nationalist sentiments and political manipulation to raise the level of this strong belief in one belief in people’s minds, and then lower their receptivity for alternative beliefs, which led to the emergence of such extreme events.
Lack of diversity in Internet cultural content
The lack of diversity in Internet cultural content will also harmed individuals and society significantly. Internet globalization can promote the inclusivity of individuals’ intercultural diversity, but in nowadays Internet era, cultural imperialism still largely affects individuals and societies. Through cultural export, developed Western nations acquire cultural hegemony and influenced such undeveloped or underdeveloped regions (Demont-Heinrich, 2011). The economics between developed nations/developing countries and the global trend determine that the western capitalist culture has always been stronger than the eastern culture on the Internet (Demont-Heinrich, 2011). In particular, American media goods and entertainment commerce exports reached $771 billion in 2019. This impressive data demonstrates that the United States has long exported cultural products over the Internet. At the same time, American’s values and ideology has also been exported and were intended to alter other nations. Suppose long-term propaganda or giving precedence to the culture of such a powerful nation and the absence of propaganda for the minority culture continue to achieve its dominant cultural phenomenon over time. In that case, the minority culture will ultimately be marginalized and silenced. Take music as an example: in recent years, hi-pop music has grown very popular around the globe. This kind of excessive cultural production has emerged on the Internet. As the result, the lack of diverse music will render the niche music culture invisible and unnoticed.
This paper presented three specific aspects of the Internet’s lack of diversity in its contemporary context: Lack of diversity on Internet platforms, political message, and Internet cultural content. As well as demonstrates how it may have harms individuals and societies. The development of the Internet has brought earth-shattering changes to human existence, yet when individuals use the Internet for its convenience, they may often get “lost” in it. However, with stricter scrutiny and regulation made for internet platform, many issues are gradually regulated. With the development of the Internet and the progress of society in the foreseeable future, more improvements will come.
Demont-Heinrich, C. (2011). Cultural Imperialism Versus Globalization of Culture: Riding the Structure-Agency Dialectic in Global Communication and Media Studies. Sociology Compass, 5(8), 666–678. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2011.00401.x
Iandoli, L., Primario, S., & Zollo, G. (2021). The impact of group polarization on the quality of online debate in social media: A systematic literature review. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 170, 120924–. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120924
Lin, H., Feng, X., Wu, D., Ji, F., & Li, X. (2022). Legal Governance of Internet Platform Monopoly Based on Big Data Analysis: A Review of Alibaba Case. Mobile Information Systems, 2022, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/1776598
Mechant, P. (2012). An illustrated framework for the analysis of Web2.0 interactivity. Contemporary Social Science, 7(3), 263–281. https://doi.org/10.1080/21582041.2012.716524
Morozov, E. (2012). The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. PublicAffairs.
Pariser, E. (2011). The filter bubble : what the Internet is hiding from you. Viking.
Srnicek, N. (2017), Platform Capitalism, Cambridge: Polity.
Stocker, V., Smaragdakis, G., Lehr, W., & Bauer, S. (2017). The growing complexity of content delivery networks: Challenges and implications for the Internet ecosystem. Telecommunications Policy, 41(10), 1003–1016. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.telpol.2017.02.004