Governments around the world are dramatically increasing their efforts to manipulate information on social media, threatening the notion of the internet as a liberating technology, according to Freedom on the Net 2017, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of online freedom.
The internet is a crucial medium through which people can express themselves and share ideas and has become an increasingly important tool through which democracy and human rights activists mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform. Fearing the power of the new technologies, authoritarian states have devised subtle and not-so-subtle ways to filter, monitor, and otherwise obstruct or manipulate the openness of the internet. Even a number of democratic states have considered or implemented various restrictions in response to the potential legal, economic, and security challenges raised by new media. Responding to these challenges, Freedom House conducts research and produces analysis on levels of internet freedom, conducts advocacy domestically and internationally to protect internet freedom, and conducts an array of programs designed to assist human rights and democracy activists safely use the internet for mobilizing their constituents and communicating their ideas.