Let’s be careful out there …: how digital rights advocates educate citizens in the digital age

Efrat Daskal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

From the early days of the printed press, citizens have challenged and modified the information environment as constructed by governments and media organizations. In the digital era, this struggle is manifested in the work of civil-society organizations calling to expand the boundaries of digital rights such as access to the internet, freedom of speech, and the right to privacy. Alongside their traditional activity of confronting governments and internet organizations, these bodies have also engaged in educating citizens about their rights. In order to shed light on such educational efforts, I examine the activities of four civil-society organizations operating in three countries (Germany, Israel, and the U.S.) by conducting a content analysis of their websites between 2013 and 2015. The results suggest that the organizations’ interactions with the public are guided by three main principles: (1) cultural informational framing: delivering accurate technological and political information, which is framed so as to resonate with the cultural premises and everyday lives of the target audiences; (2) personal activism: propelling citizens toward participation, primarily through political clicktivism and by providing them with technological guidance and tools for digital self-protection; and (3) branding digital rights activism: fostering a unique image for a particular organization’s digital rights activism, mostly through selling merchandise to citizens. Using these strategies, the organizations aim to construct the social–political–cultural identity of a generation who are knowledgeable, politically active, and aware of their rights in the digital age. The characteristics of this identity are discussed in the conclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-256
Number of pages16
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Keywords

  • Digital rights
  • advocacy
  • civil society
  • media literacy
  • media reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

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