Friday, April 23, 2021
Laura Donohue (Georgetown University Law Center) has posted New Media, Free Expression, and the Offences Against the State Acts (Published in The Offences Against the State Act 1939 at 80: A Model Counter-Terrorism Act? (Mark Coen ed., Oxford: Hart Publishing 2021), Pp. 163) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
New media facilitates communication and creates a common, lived experience. It also carries the potential for great harm on an individual and societal scale. Posting integrates information and emotion, with study after study finding that fear and anger transfer most readily online. Isolation follows, with insular groups forming. The result is an increasing bifurcation of society. Scholars also write about rising levels of depression and suicide that stem from online dependence and replacing analogical experience with digital interaction, as well as escalating levels of anxiety that are rooted in the validation expectation of the ‘like’ function. These changes generate instability and contribute to a volatile social environment. Significant political risks also accompany this novel genre. Hostile actors can use social media platforms to deepen political schisms, to promote certain candidates, and, as demonstrated by the recent Cambridge Analytica debacle, to swing elections. Extremist groups and terrorist organisations can use online interactions to build sympathetic audiences and to recruit adherents. Since 1939, the Offences Against the State Act (OAS) has served as the primary vehicle for confronting political violence and challenges to state authority. How effective is it in light of new media?