BBC Newsnight’s Paul Mason:
“But,” one politics professor told me, “most of the complaints were from people aged over 35. The youth don’t watch TV, and in any case they have never believed what’s on the news.”
Social media makes it possible to organise protests fast, to react to repression fast, and to wage a quite successful propaganda war that makes the mainstream media and the spin machines of governments look foolish.
At the same time, it encourages a relatively “horizontal” structure to the protests themselves. Taksim Square in Istanbul was rare for having a 60-strong organising group; the protests in Sao Paulo have followed the more general pattern of several organising groups and an amorphous network of people who simply choose themselves where to turn up, what to write on their banners, and what to do.
The recent revelations about the PRISM program of the National Security Agency, showing huge amounts of secret data collection from nine major Internet services and metadata from phone calls show an insatiable appetite for information from the US state and government agencies — ostensibly to stop terrorist attacks, but perhaps for much more.
Looked at from this perspective, another possibility also arises: if this nascent Big State will increasingly try to dominate and control information in the age of Big Data, then it will also tend to take a hard-line attitude against anybody challenging its ability to collect and control this information. If so, perhaps the shock-and-awe attacks by persecutors and agencies against whistle-blowers and rival peddlers of information, such as Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden, shouldn’t be a surprise.