The fear of being monitored on the Internet and of cyber bullying leads users to change their online behavior: the so-called social cooling
The fear of being monitored on the Internet by companies and governments and that of cyber bullying lead users to change their online behavior. The effect called social cooling
The director of American National Intelligence, Dan Coats, stated that practically impossible to determine the number of people supervised by the state, could be millions. Not just an American issue. All over the world Governments and companies are intensifying online activity surveillance policies. For example, in Mexico the government used Internet surveillance to monitor journalists, activists and civil rights defenders. Also the phenomenon of cyber bullying and online harassment is growing and leads social media to tight control over published content.
Monitored over the Internet in the post Snowden era
All this can have significant consequences on civil rights and people's freedom of expression. Many are skeptical of these effects which are certainly difficult to measure and demonstrate, but numerous recent studies have documented the phenomenon. For example, it has been shown that the revelations of Edward Snowden on Nsa surveillance led to a change in user behavior in the use of Wikipedia (Chilling Effects: Online Surveillance and Wikipedia Use, 2016).
In the post-Snowden era, the concern to be watched seems to influence online behavior and is more interested in making personal data public.
Women, young people and social cooling
There are groups of people or online activities that can be controlled more than others. A study conducted in Oxford, published in the Internet Policy Review, based on empirical research on 1,200 American Internet users, analyzed the online self-censorship behaviors. The fact emerges that people are increasingly cautious, both on social media and in online searches. They avoid addressing certain topics, precisely as a result of government surveillance. The effect seems to be amplified on women and young users.
In fact, the fact that children do not give importance to their privacy would be a commonplace. In reality they are very careful, they simply act differently from adults.
Statistically women are more often victims of online bullying and involved in legal charges related to content posted on the web. In general, putting citizens in a position to confront and debate, search the Internet for information they need and share their thoughts makes democracy stronger. The surveillance and legal problems on online content make this freedom at risk in a sneaky way, leading to what is called social cooling, that is a conformist, cautious, reticent, self-censoring and intimidated attitude in the use of technology.