Critical Writing: Lucifer Effect in Social Media (Cyber homogenization & violence)

By wanyi

I never used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram before, one main reason is my friends almost do not have this social software, and are not being allowed to. Correspondingly, for the social interactive needs, we use Sina Blog and Wechat. But what I want to talk about is not network firewall. I want to bring about such a change today from such a new Internet that is not suited to this era. In particular, what kinds of problems and challenges have arisen from the various revolutionary changes brought about by Social Media and Social Network? And those things we are going to prepare, our society is ready (in a worldwide range)? Maybe we are not ready, are not we all imaginary about the constructive imagination in each of us all?

Network Information environment offers us a more transparent and malleable culture form. (Benkler, Y., 2006) Like every new thing is faced with the subversion or collapse of civilization, the social network changed us from information collection. When I was little, my parents and I gathered information and news from the newspaper, they are boring, with limitation, but in some perspective, trustful.(We may not see everything from it, but what we already saw is real.) Right now, since the explosion of social media, people have more channels to accept news and information, they think it’s great to get diversity views. However, depends on their social circle, people would like to interact with somebody who has the same values. In this pattern, information from social media with bias and subjective, sometimes even made up.

The more serious situation is when people get into reading, thinking, it causes discussion. A discussion in social media mostly plays around with the same circle called” The echo-chamber”. The echo-chamber effect is a condition arising in an online community where participants find their own opinions constantly echoed back to them, thus reinforcing a certain sense of truth that resonates with their individual belief systems. Participants within online collaborative spaces will always act in human ways: that is, people will gravitate toward and will be more comfortable communicating with those who share their ideas, conceptions of the truth, cultures and communication styles.(McRae, P., 2010) People have the autonomy to choose the channels of information, but individual choices with emotions and positions still lead to the homogenization of information. More adapt to social identity and carve them into a “safe place”. (Baym, N. K., & Boyd., D, 2012) An importance sense of community with a network and overlapping social ties.

Even though this situation is not such serious apparently, it reminds me to think of Hannah Arendt’s talk about people began to lose the ability to judge independently, do things what themselves cannot believe. (Arendt, H., 2005) Same as The Lucifer Effect in real life, the digital interactive of homogeneous network environment could cause cyber violence in a potential damage.

In China, one typical cyber violence called: Human Flesh Search(HFS), is a type of collective online action aimed at finding with certain events and Publication of collective online actions related to the specifics of targeted individual facts. It related to tracking and posting may help to solve a crime or disclose someone who is allegedly engaged in the corrupt or unethical behavior. (Ong, 2012) But it’s more serious currently, the public can do almost anything in a cyber environment to support or discredit individuals, even beyond the moral threshold. Even more frightening is that they are real user groups, not bots.

For people who violate morality without breaking the law, society informality punishes them by the Internet. When we talk about punishment, there are roughly two kinds of sanctions in the civilized society now: One is to punish a criminal in the state system by law; The other type of punishment is social informality, which imposes a punishment through various social rules. What needs to aware is the second one’s rule is subjective and sometimes arbitrary. Because of the homogeneity of social media, people’s voices are actually self-protection or self-noble embodiment, they depend on social media as a board platform, do justice. However, what I am thinking is the fair of compensation. When public use Internet to spy on people’s privacy, nobody considers who should do it, who has the right to do that critic and at the same time, in what way. In the end, the result can be unexpected. Peter Steiner’s famous cartoon in The New Yorker in 1993 once said “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” (Steiner 1993). Through the current Internet, even dog would not have privacy.

Ironically, the physical reasons why people judge crucially on the Internet is similar to massacre behavior in real life.

Firstly, they believe the responsibility could be separate to each person, that means they do not break the law, and it’s hard to figure who should take that responsibility, in some range, they are faced the pressure of majorities, neutral also embodies the attitude of support here (Jensen, R., 2008)

Secondly, they believe they are one of the “noble” community, a justice behavior of words and deeds will have more supporters from society since everyone wants to be ethnic. Thus, bringing self-satisfaction to people.

Furthermore, they have the obligation to speak freely(power). More than these, Internet blurs each person’s identity, makes them could not directly face the target people. Physically, let them express boldly.

Pathetically, this is not a social media or Internet problem, but rather digital media that exposes social issues. So, except understand the function of algorism and logical for prevent being taken advantage by the commercial and political community, at any time, keep an eye on the environment and society in which we live.



Benkler, Y. (2006). “Introduction: a moment of opportunity and challenge” in The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, 1-18.

Arendt, H. (2005). Responsibility and judgment. Random House Digital, Inc..

McRae, P. (2010). Forecasting the future over three horizons of change. ATA Magazine, (90), 4. Magazine/Volume 90/Number4/Pages/Forecasting-the-Future-Over-Three-Horizons-of-Change.aspx

Baym, N. K., & Boyd, D. (2012). Socially mediated publicness: An introduction. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media56(3), 320-329.

Ong, R. (2012) “Online Vigilante Justice Chinese Style and Privacy in China,” Information and Communications Technology Law 21(2): 127–45.

Jensen, R. (2008). The myth of the neutral professional. Questioning library neutrality: Essays from Progressive librarian, 89-96.

Steiner, P. (1993) “On the Internet, Nobody Knows You’re a Dog,” New Yorker, 5 July, (accessed 25 February 2015).

The following two tabs change content below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

WordPress theme based on Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.