The report discusses how cyberpublics (e.g. blogging, social networking, user-generated media websites like YouTube) help to disseminate images and information that promote liberal ideals of tolerance and co-existence. On websites like Tumblr, for example, you are able to find a vibrant culture of awareness, advocacy, and activism that educates users on social issues and critical theory in a way that allows individuals to engage positively with a political community. In areas that are under the control of a totalitarian or authoritarian system, the Internet offers a way for individuals to resist oppressive socio-political power in a way that minimizes personal vulnerability. Individuals in these cultures are able to connect with like-minded individuals and actively protest acts of political or structural violence, giving their subversive discourse more cultural power.
However, I also think it’s important to recognize how the Internet can, in fact, be used to encourage intolerance. For instance, just as the Internet allows positively minded individuals to connect with other people with similar aims to promote positive change, it also allows increased interaction to people with more regressive or violent interests. Traditionally, members of hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan were only able to recruit members and spread messages of extremism via person-to-person contact; now, the Internet allows members to spread dangerous ideologies to others they would have otherwise not have been able to contact. (I would link to the KKK’s website here, but I actually don’t want to give them any more web traffic.)
And it’s not just these ostentatiously regressive political groups that promote intolerance in the age of the Internet. You can find equally dangerous but more furtive discourse on other, more benign areas of the Internet. For instance, in the subreddit “The Red Pill,” a community of users encourage a perception of modern society as being female-dominated (as opposed to male-dominated). The rhetoric on this website is implicitly (and, often, explicitly) misogynistic, with women being cast as cruel, consumeristic, unintelligent shrews and feminism being characterized as a conspiracy to ruin the lives of men. However, because the community is not obviously violent (with some very significant exceptions), their ideas and ideologies are able to be consumed by naive users without critique.
My point is that the Internet can be used as an instrument of spreading both tolerance and intolerance, and that merely identifying the positive aspects without recognizing the negative results in an unfortunately unbalanced idea of the digital world.