“The mobile phone can be an instrument of liberation even against heavy odds, and this is a subject on which the authorities are, understandably, scared. Communication is snapped in order to keep the population in a state of voice-less and communication-less submission”
Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen makes the above statement about a liberating potential of mobiles.
Here is the counterpoint:
Social networks offer a cheaper and easier way to identify dissidents than other, more traditional forms of surveillance. Despite talk of a “dictator’s dilemma”, censorship technology is sophisticated enough to block politically sensitive material without impeding economic activity, as China’s example shows. The internet can be used to spread propaganda very effectively, which is why Hugo Chávez is on Twitter. The web can also be effective in supporting the government line, or at least casting doubt on critics’ position (China has an army of pro-government bloggers). Indeed, under regimes where nobody believes the official media, pro-government propaganda spread via the internet is actually perceived by many to be more credible by comparison.