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Report: Internet freedom ‘in decline’ for seventh consecutive year

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A new report by Freedom House, the US-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that advocates human rights worldwide, says manipulation of social media and disinformation campaigns have led to a global decline in internet freedom for the seventh year in a row.

The NGO, which conducts research and advocacy on democracy and human rights, says elections in 18 countries suffered from those tactics, including the United States itself.

Governments around the world are increasingly resorting to social media manipulation. Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey are among 30 countries employing social media “opinion shapers” to spread pro-government news and opinions.

Other countries, including China and Ethiopia, resorted to blocking mobile internet services, particularly in areas with religious or ethnic minorities.

Al Jazeera’s Jacob Ward reports from San Francisco.

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Detected Closed Captioning: Roughly Half The Planet Is Connected To the Internet Using It To Learn New Skills Find Work And Coordinate And organize Political Action Information As The Saying Goes Wants To Be Free But A New Report Suggests That Governments Around The World Are Attempting To Strangle The Free Internet Well unfortunately For The Seventh Consecutive Year Our Study Showcases That Internet Freedom Has Been On Decline We Have Identified Several Other Trends That Are Quite Worrisome One Being That More And More Governments Are increasingly Using Internet Shutdowns Around Elections Or Around Anti-government Protests To Stifle The Dissent We’ve Also Seen A Dramatic increase In The Number Of People Who Are Being Attacked For Just Posting Their Anti-government Views Online The Tactics For Controlling Our Online Behavior Are Growing More Sophisticated In China Where The Web Is Heavily Censored A New Social Credit System Called Sesame Credit Rewards And Punishes Citizens For What They Do And What Their Friends Do On Social Media Around The World Governments Pay For Positive Commentary Online And Surveillance Is Rampant In The U.s. Companies Like Facebook Here In California Have Created A Perfectly Addictive Product By Appealing To Our Emotions And Our Circle Of Friends But in The Process They’ve Also inadvertently Created A Way For Geopolitical Enemies To Reach Across To each Other’s Citizens Using Some Of The most Advanced Marketing Tactics In The World Unfortunately Those Are The Same Tactics That Advertisers Use To Help people Like Their Products And Now We See Actually Government’s Using The Same Methods To Spread Their Own Pro-government Messages And To Keep Themselves In Power The Internet Seems Like A Place Of Freedom But Groups Like Freedom House Say Until We Learn How To Protect Transparency And Factual information And Clearly Identify Censorship And Propaganda It Will Remain A Global Battleground Jakub Board Al Jazeera San Francisco

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