The Vitual communities culture is a liberal culture and it is a free communication technology, so people can enter the Internet to seek peers with the same viewpoints as their own, and in such a high degree of free of the Internet communities, many people who can not get the understanding can get respect and friendship in the online communities, and also triggering social conflicts or riots by promoting views embedded in negativity. For example, the Bule Whale Challenge. Over the past few decades, it has been common to see XXXX challenges tag on the Internet, most of which promote a theme of positivity and bring global people attracted to that theme to form some sort of online community and further expand that community’s reach into society. The Blue Whale Challenge is a spin-off of the online challenge tag, which aims to capture the attention of teenagers with a series of games and use psychological manipulation to induce them to commit suicide. Since all the “members” of the community do not have the maturity of will, they come together to create a kind of herd mentality, which amplifies the negativity and causes the teens to end their lives by suicide.
Secondly, the freedom of the online environment allows people to publicly express their thoughts at any time without awaiting the censorship of the dominant culture that makes the Internet culture non-uniform, which might lead people to substitute their own social identities into the virtual communities to disseminate information about politic. For example, the Empire program. Ever since the arrest of the extremist Nazi Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, his rabid fans have formed an online organization that travels around the Internet spreading anti-Semitic awareness about him and promoting anti-Semitism to others on the Internet in the form of various forms of popular history. The organization has gained prominence on the Internet since Covid-19, and multiple conspiracy theories with a negative slant have exploded across the Internet, which has led to the eruption of an imperial movement of the majority in 2023. And according to government statistics, today there are about 23,000 members of the organization in the Internet.
Thirdly, the freedom speech is a double-edged sword. This year, the hashtag # powderhair Girl was so popular that it was once a hot search on Weibo. After being admitted to East China Normal University, the girl recorded the moment of sharing the notice with her grandfather in front of his hospital bed. It was just a daily life dynamic, but it caused a huge discussion on the Internet. Under the hashtag # pink hair Girl, many netizens have verbally abused him and even made pornographic rumors about the girl. Because virtual communities are speech-free, there is no one to police cyberbullying. Although there are still many people under the hashtag to speak for the girl, the girl is still deeply hurt. Tragically, the girl finally committed suicide because she could not support the gossip on the Internet. So, a good community should have limits on free speech. In some cases, members can be censored and punished for some unkind remarks.
Group member: Jiaying Tong & Hailey Huang