CITIZENS OF THE ONLINE WORLD
For all of us who use Internet, and thus are citizens of the online world, these three films are a trip to the unknown sides of the land we are stepping in when we get online, a land which seems to be full of unexplored features, legislation and geography.
Herzog’s own voice is guiding us in Lo and Behold with the same intellectual excitement as we have been led when discovering the nature of NATURE in his earlier film Grizzly Man. In this film we meet people whose personal passion, imagination, technical skills and creativity have contributed to invent and to further shape the world we know today as the Internet. Unlike in the physical world, concludes the film, the online space can still be stretched and expanded wherever a hotspot of inventive, imaginative, creative ideas and technology meet.
If it were to further explore the human geography of this online land, the biggest country today for sure would be the country of the Facebook community, comprising 1.7 billion active users, inhabitants. “Giving voice to people” is the goal of this social network, publicly declared by its inventor and owner. And the citizens of this online country should be indeed the happiest in the world, given that they are all linked based on “Facebook friendships” and the voluntary given “likes”.
But “What are the laws in the nation of Facebook and what happens if you break them?” is the question that starts the journey of the next film. Gottschau invites us to follow the practice and consequences of law reinforcement, the censorship used there on a daily basis, by presenting some cases out of millions happening every day: as personal photos and data are deleted or thousands of Facebook accounts are suspended, we come to know that the final goal of this platform has nothing to do with freedom of expression and that this social network seems to be nothing but a mere surveillance tool of humanity on an unprecedented scale. Facebookistan, as the title of the film suggests, seems to be a single handedly governed sultanate over one seventh of the population of the world today linked by Facebook, and the underlying goal of its laws seeks nothing but to obtain monopoly on their users’ personal data.
Down the deep, dark web invites us to dive beneath the ‘regular’, ‘official’ search engine of the indexed, tracked online world, and into the underbelly of the Internet, the digital underworld. Tor is not only a huge black market of illegal products, but also a black market of free ideas, free recipes for medicines and design for 3D printed objects, and it seems to be the only place on the Internet where the flagship of the idea of free Internet can still be found, especially on the territory circumscribed by the activity of cryptoanarchists who are using encrypted messages and currencies. (Csilla Kató)