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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  945 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
"The revolution will be Twittered!" declared journalist Andrew Sullivan after protests erupted in Iran in June 2009. Yet for all the talk about the democratizing power of the Internet, regimes in Iran and China are as stable and repressive as ever. In fact, authoritarian governments are effectively using the Internet to suppress free speech, hone their surveillance techniq ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published January 1st 2011 by PublicAffairs (first published November 16th 2010)
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Michael Burnam-fink
Feb 13, 2013 Michael Burnam-fink rated it liked it
Shelves: sts, 2013
Morozov is on a crusade against 'Internetic-centric foreign policy' and 'cyber-utopianism', which he describes as a constellation of power interests linking Silicon Valley tech companies (Google, Twitter, Facebook) with Cold Warriors (Cheney, Clinton, Rumsfeld) in a profoundly misguided and dangerous effort to promote democracy overseas through technology. He argues that rather than being an unalloyed force for freedom, the internet can be used in many ways that strengthen authoritarian regimes. ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Ron rated it really liked it
This is worth reading in combination with The Master Switch for those interested in the topic. Evgeny provides a much needed corrective to all of the overly optimistic thinking about the role of the Internet in repressive regimes around the world. I was introduced to him through debates he had with Clay Shirky, a super optimist on the subject. Evgeny points out that repressive regimes are becoming good at using the Internet to suit their purposes, so the mere fact that there is a free and uncens ...more
Leah G
Really important book for the modern age- Morozov exposes the cliches that policymakers use when talking about the internet and explains the harm such oversimplifications can cause. However, the poor writing style of this book detracted from my reading experience- the book needs more editing, for typos, awkward phrasings, abused idioms, and grammatical errors unfortunately abound. Some of the ideas, as well, were poorly developed and some terms were never defined (like democracy! He kept using i ...more
Apr 18, 2013 Shua rated it it was amazing
Shelves: technology
Few things delight me as much as a contrarian.

I enjoy reading Wired magazine; its a welcome blast of techno-optimism every month. And yet... Wired magazine stands out for its high concentration of "the Internets shower the masses with freedom and young entrepreneurs will solve all of life's minor inconveniences"! Wired is not alone in this attitude and is not the worst; its just an easy target for me because I actually read it. I avoid the other stuff.

Evgeny Morozov picks apart many of the assum
Mar 28, 2011 Doug rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I remember reading an article saying how the internet is making us dumber, and I was cynical on how some pundits claim that this same internet is introducing democracy to despotic regimes through Facebook and the Twitter Revolution and whatnot (Malcolm Gladwell also has a good take on this). This book brings it all together.

On a 2009 visit to Shanghai, Barack Obama was all too happy to extol the virtues of the Internet, saying that "the more freely information flows, the stronger society becomes
John Matthews
Jan 30, 2016 John Matthews rated it really liked it
Compelling, instructive and deeply researched, The Net Delusion courageously challenges the perception that the Internet has wrought only positive change and calls into question the playbook of those who seek to democratize the world through its promotion.

Morozov cites many examples of technology being heralded as a utopia-generator and freedom-enhancer: the telegraph, radio, TV, etc. only to have the dream busted each time.

The Internet may have brought people together, but it hasn’t changed hum
Feb 25, 2011 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Morozov is debunking the notion that internet access = internet freedom. In fact, he tells us that internet "freedom" is a term with no meaning in the conventional sense since it implies that users are free to say what they like and use the technology for their own ends. But, his argument goes, if one user (an authoritarian regime, say, with a reason to dampen enthusiasm for democratic reforms) controls any points of internet access, or subverts the open sharing of ideas on social networking pla ...more
Jeff Scott
Apr 01, 2011 Jeff Scott rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, internet
The ideas in this book are not unique. Social networking has many advantages, but people tend to exaggerate their performance and importance. In a general setting, this might hurt a corporations marketing plan, but Morozov does something different here. He discusses the problems with applying this notion that social networking and free internet in oppressed areas is the miracle drug that will free everyone. He argues that other causes lead to a successful revolution and to believe that the use o ...more
Daniel Elder
May 15, 2013 Daniel Elder rated it really liked it
A refreshing read in the age of cyber-utopianism. Morozov gets unfairly labeled as either being an anti-tech Luddite and an Internet-hater but he actually carves out a great argument for more reasonable approaches to technology and shifting our perspectives on it to understand that it's not technologies that shape societies so much as societies that shape technologies. Technologies change rapidly but human nature far less so. The penultimate chapter is a fantastic exploration of the ways in whic ...more
Michael Hughes
I finished more than a third before throwing in the towel. Morozov's analysis is strong, and his writing is often quite funny, a must given the sometimes dry material. While reading, however, I found myself flirting with other books on my shelves, casting sidelong glances that lasted longer and longer. Ultimately, it came down to, what am I going to do with this information, having acquired it? How much of it will I even remember? Isn't this really for policy wonks in a position to do something, ...more
Mar 02, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Morozov has done extensive and excellent research on how the Internet is heralded as a democratizing tool on theory but how things happen in practice. He has looked at the wide context surrounding events such as the "Iranian Twitter Revolution", something we cannot say of many journalists and certainly not of Internet gurus. It also gives a good overview of peoples expectations to various technologies throughout history such as the telegraph and the airplane.
It is a serious book that is probabl
This is an interesting book that makes good points. Sure, it sets up straw men, but the "the Internet will save the world" crowd can really get ahead of itself, so refuting seemingly ridiculous arguments is sometimes in order here. Where the net delusion goes wrong is in trying to take its hard headed pessimism too far, and ending up contradicting itself. The Internet cant be both an ineffective way for progressives to organize popular protest and an effective way for reactionaries to organize p ...more
Sean Goh
A lot of salient points, which probably explains why reading it was so slow going.
The Internet penetrates and shapes all walks of political life, not just the ones conducive to democratisation.

All metaphors come with costs, for the only way in which they can help us grasp a complex issue is by downplaying some other, seemingly less important aspects of that issue.

Any information-centric account of the end of the cold war is bound to prioritise the role of its users - dissidents, o
Jul 24, 2015 Price rated it really liked it
Highly recommend this book to national and foreign policy makers, regulators, and those interested in assessing the impact that the growth of the internet is having on everything. The scope of the book is very broad touching on such topics as cyber-utopians, internet centrism and cyber realists.

I now view news media, social media, bloggers, and internet advocates for freedom in a very different light. Compelling arguments can be made that what is actually occurring in real life is far different
Raj Agrawal
Mar 29, 2014 Raj Agrawal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saass-books
Clever, cynical, and powerful. Morozov clashes wills against what he calls "cyber-utopians" in an effort to convince the reader that cyber policy must be shaped to ensure the Internet aggressively supports democracy rather than enabling authoritarianism. The author insists that the very e-market that idealists believe will bridge the gap between the information and and uninformed has in fact encouraged Internet freedom fighters to support government agencies. Morozov is highly critical of the "W ...more
Jan 06, 2014 David rated it really liked it
I discovered Morozov via this exchange he had with then technology columnist Farhad Manjoo. Manjoo was playing checkers, Morozov was playing Go. (See what I did there).

Morozov is a refreshing voice in a cultural climate where internet/technology-worship is the norm. It seems that there is hardly a problem that technology can't solve, and with Washington mired in partisan gridlock, Silicon Valley looks like a veritable Shangrila for our aspirations for a more truly democratic world.

A roughly drawn and rather common-sense evaluation of the techno-giddiness that routinely gets passed off as intellectual effort on my patrie's West Coast. It's Morozov's first book, and he doesn't savage these stupidities with either the ferocity or the finesse that made To Save Everything Click Here such a riot, and at times it feels a little like a magazine think piece that went on a little too long. It's still an enlightening, thought-provoking argument, but it's one that Morozov has made be ...more
Jeffrey Hart
Feb 20, 2014 Jeffrey Hart rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was primed not to like this book, but Morozov disarmed me by writing an intelligent critique not of the Internet per so, although he has lots of negative things to say about it, but of the recent tendency in U.S. foreign policy to promote democracy and human rights by advocating "Internet freedom." He is particularly critical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and advisers like Jared Cohen. Morozov is critical of a variety of viewpoints: including cyber-utopians (by which he means the folks ...more
Jan 27, 2014 André rated it liked it
Shelves: media
Morozov is describing the dark side of the internet (freedom). The book is a tremendous work with examples of when and where the internet has failed as a tool of foreign policy especially when it comes to democratizing foreign authoritarian states. Additionally he is also pointing out that criminals - from fraud to paedophilia - misuse the internet. All the cases Morozov is highlighting, you have to agree with him that the internet is just a tool that can be used by good and evil minds.

In the en
Aug 15, 2011 Edwin rated it really liked it
(Z mojego blogu:
Jednocześnie w dwóch niezwykle ważnych i opiniotwórczych amerykańskich magazynach, „Foreign Policy” i „Foreign Affairs” ukazały się duże artykuły krytykujące politykę Internet Freedom zainicjowaną przed rokiem przez Hillary Clinton. W styczniu ub.r., po sławnych chińskich atakach na Google i kilkadziesiąt innych amerykańskich korporacji, po których nastąpił otwarty konflikt Google’a z władzami Chin Clinton ogłosiła, że USA będą bronić woln
David Dinaburg
Mar 01, 2013 David Dinaburg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first throes of modern Internet nostalgia have descended, and with it, the weight of reconciling not only life pre-‘net but the fresh idealism that always accompanies a shift in telecommunications (see: telegraph, telephone). Twitter’s constant deluge of compressed inanities and pointless musings have supplanted Usenet’s core of dedicated, experienced and technically savvy users. The internet used to have some barriers to entry; most of them were financial. If you were “online” it was becaus ...more
Apr 15, 2012 Wise_owl rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a good solid book about a very important subject. Questioning the way in which policy makers in the west have become enamored of the 'democratizing' nature of Internet technology, and how that ideology of 'cyber-utopianism' is making policy, for lack of a better word, stupid.

Morozov touches on the origins of these trends, how they have expressed themeselves, the clearest example being the talk that surrounds the Iranian 'Green Revolt', or how the US interprets the emergence of bloggers i
Craig Shier
Oct 14, 2011 Craig Shier rated it really liked it
The Net Delusion is an extended discussion of the relationship of the Internet, authoritarian governments and western foreign policy. The main thesis is that Internet technology will not inevitably lead to democratic revolution in autocratic regimes across the world.

Morozov provides powerful examples from around the world demonstrating the less than desirable consequences of promoting Internet freedom in repressed countries.
- Large segments of the population are content with the entertainment
Chris Bronsk
Jan 21, 2012 Chris Bronsk rated it liked it
Morozov attacks both cyber-utopians (if there are any still out there) and neoliberal triumphalists who want to credit the Internet for, well, just about anything that benefits them. These critiques sound very much like mainstream globalization debates with some anti-capitalist rhetoric refocused toward the Internet and digital media communication technologies. That is, nothing new. But this book is nevertheless an important critique for how Morozov, through his lively style and effective use of ...more
May 25, 2013 Forrest rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr5
The following is a joint review of two books by Evgeny Morozov and is cross-posted in both review sections.

This is going to be a very atypical review. In reading The Net Delusion and Click Here, I was attempting to develop a cohesive personal position on the problems of internet advocacy. There is a lot of literature and scholarly articles on the benefits of using the internet in the cause of advocacy, either as a method of raising awareness or as a means to a fundraising end, but there is very
May 20, 2012 Bob rated it liked it
The internet has a dark side, a dark side in that it is not only those who love freedom and want others to be free that use it but dictators and tyrants use the net as well. The author shows how the net is used by those (both individuals and governments) who want to bring about change, specifically the toppling if oppressive regimes. He then evaluates the effectiveness of the net. By dealing with how the internet affects us socially and psychologically, he the reveals that the net has not been a ...more
Nov 18, 2013 Woliver rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
En general este libro me ha gustado sólo hasta el final, si no fuera por el apéndice me hubiera quedado confundido, ya que es donde el autor define por fin su postura y la tesis principal del libro, matiza sus argumentos y aclara qué quiso decir con determinados argumentos y qué no quiso decir.

Esto es algo no muy atinado si tomamos en cuenta que afirma que el apéndice sirve para aclarar y responder preguntas de sus críticos.

Por más absurdo que parezca, el libro (sin su apéndice) no define estos
May 03, 2012 mingfrommongo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It should be obvious. The internet does not make us smart, or stupid, or better-looking (or get the weeds out of our lawns). It just gives us more opportunities to show how smart or stupid or good-looking we are. Yet there are many, in and out of government, who think that internet applications an achieve foreign policy goals by themselves. When the same class of idiots that said "We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators" starts talking about "internet freedom" and "Twitter Revolutions", it's ...more
Victor Gonzalez
May 14, 2013 Victor Gonzalez rated it really liked it
It is not difficult to imagine that technologies that are created for one purpose end up being used for another. Technology is used and adapted by the needs of each person that use it. If we talk about the use of twitter, some might use it to sell their persona, as a politician, as a guru in one are or they might use it to explain the situation that is happening in the place they are. Each user of twitter has a reason for using the technology and they use it according to their own purpose.

In the
Steve Stanton
Dec 08, 2012 Steve Stanton rated it really liked it
The Net Delusion is an insightful political commentary debunking the myth of cyber-utopianism, the notion that freedom of information will lead to democratic change in the world. With extensive and detailed historical research, Evgeny Morozov argues that the internet is just another form of entertainment and not a tool of empowerment, and that technological determinism ratifies current culture worldwide.

Western governments are increasing censorship and surveillance techniques in response to int
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Evgeny Morozov is a contributing editor to Foreign Policy and runs the magazine's "Net Effect" blog about the Internet's impact on global politics. Morozov has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, a Yahoo! fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University, a fellow at George Soros's Open Society Institute, and th ...more
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“The most effective system of Internet control is not the one that has the most sophisticated and draconian system of censorship, but the one that has no need for censorship whatsoever.” 2 likes
“The unthinking glorification of digital activism makes its practitioners confuse priorities with capabilities. Getting people onto the streets, which may indeed become easier with modern communication tools, is usually the last stage of a protest movement, in both democracies and autocracies. One cannot start with protests and think of political demands and further steps later on. There are real dangers to substituting startegic and long-term action with spontaneous street marches.” 0 likes
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