In the past, it was common for certain areas to have access to the internet, while others did not. However, its widespread usage has drastically changed how countries conduct foreign affairs. The internet has inspired revolutions, allowed citizens to connect throughout the world, and been involved in elections. Geopolitics has been irrevocably changed by the fact that a vast amount of information is now available to almost everyone.
This has had both positive and negative consequences for those leading governments. While the internet has democratized data by allowing it to be shared to those who might not have access to it in the past, this has caused issues for several already-unstable systems. Much of the reason the internet has become so much more widespread is because of certain cable deals. Other countries might fund the infrastructure for internet to be delivered to rural areas in order to make citizens more aware of what is occurring on a geopolitical level.
“There was a time when the ‘Internet of Things’ served as the scourge of authoritarian and kleptocratic leaders who blamed it for fomenting the Arab Spring and a myriad of color revolutions,” writes Mfonobong Nsehe for Forbes.
This has also caused countries with more power to be able to influence which other areas have access to the internet. Countries such as China and Russia have funded building internet services in other areas, but there is worry that they will try to influence local politics.
In the early 00’s, the main effect of widespread use of the internet was the questioning of politics. Currently, the internet counters geopolitics in a whole new way by allowing readers of online magazines and social media to discuss a number of different issues, including climate change, income inequality, and economic wars. This exchange has opened up the world to new thought and a change in many politicians’ views on how to address problems that are affecting citizens.
Cybersecurity has also been a new issue perpetuated by the internet being used more frequently. Countries’ internal infrastructure has been hacked by individuals, as well as by other countries. This has caused numerous problems when it comes to conducting elections and knowing whether or not an electoral race has been won fairly.
How secure information is online will continue to play a role in how countries negotiate and conduct deals in the future. Information can now be easily exchanged, so there is reason to believe that politicians will be held more accountable for not upholding their promises. On the other hand, this could lead to other problems, such as electing a leader who appeals to their demographic on social media but is not fit to hold office.
Social media is a big factor in how politics are shaped, and it has been that way for the past few decades. Recently, Facebook was on trial for being a defining influence on the 2016 presidential elections in the United States. While efforts have been made in order to curb the influence ads have on swaying an election, there are no laws currently in place to combat this.
Future generations are likely to have their ideas on politics shaped by social media and how the media talks about elections. Because traditional media has started to take social platforms more seriously, they have also increased their advertising budgets in order to compete with those on the outside who are trying to influence elections. As more people look to online publications to fulfill their needs as a new source, it makes sense that political parties would want to shape young people’s views through this medium.
The debate on whether or not the internet should remain mostly open has been one that has also plagued a number of countries, and has also made relations between nations tense. Because different governments have various relationships with freedom of speech and how much information they want shared among citizens, this has been a cause of friction between nations.
“China and Russia, for example, support a stronger role for the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), seeing it as a bulwark of state sovereignty, and advocate a heavier hand for the state in controlling the flow and content of information on the Internet—postures that Western governments regard as unacceptable,” Stewart M. Patrick writes for the Council on Foreign Relations.
The internet has been a positive force for daily life and politics in many ways. It has made it possible to connect with friends from every continent. It has also made readers more informed about what is currently going on during the election process and how information about political figures is being shared across the globe. In the future, social media and the internet are likely to play an even bigger role in how the world’s politics are formed.