We need a change of mentality regarding the Internet

We need a change of mentality regarding the Internet


German users of Facebook have also been affected by the recent scandal, and suddenly the horror is great. When will Germany learn that the Internet is not a national issue, says Maximiliane Koschyk.

“The Internet is a new territory for all of us.” Only four and a half years ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel reacted strongly to the NSA’s espionage scandal. Already at that time, three of every four German citizens moved in the supposed “new territory” of the Internet. Today, the average German already spends 73 minutes a day on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

However, much has not changed in the German mentality. The abuse of about 50 million data from Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica was taken with concern, no doubt. But the real impact came only when it was learned that more than 300,000 German users could have been affected.

The explanation with just one click

What is really shocking, however, is how surprised some people feel when they realize that international digital problems affect all those who move in a digital space. In Germany, privacy advocates have criticized companies such as Facebook and Google for their business practice for years, and know that national borders are only very limited for globally active Internet giants.

The Internet is full of opportunities for mature citizens to learn about the risks and side effects of the huge global Internet machine in which we all move every day. This Internet poetry has not lost its appeal even after decades. As long as you have free Internet access and the necessary bandwidth, digital education is just a click away.

The Don Quixote digital

But the fact that the Internet is not only a blessing, but also a curse, should be understood in the same way in times of false news (fake news). Should. “On April 1 (comparable to the Day of the Holy Innocents),” wrote a colleague a few days ago quite rightly, “is the only day in which people question what is happening on the network.”

Digital experts sometimes must feel as if they are fighting against windmills, also with respect to their own government. Four years after the discovery of this “new territory”, the new German government has made digitalization the center of attention for the next term, designating even a State Minister for Digital Affairs.

But skeptics have good reason to observe this project with moderate enthusiasm. For example, the new Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer proposes to inform about deficiencies in the future through an application. But as an Internet user said: “First we had to wait for everything to sink”.

No matter what happens to Facebook: the network remains

This mentality of wanting to register everything officially shows that people in Germany have not yet understood what the Internet is really about: it is not about whether Facebook will be maintained or not, whether users will leave this server or not. The digitized network concept is a central achievement of our era that can not be reversed. Other Internet companies have already failed before Facebook (#neverforgetmyspace) and have thus prepared the ground for something new.

And since you do not need a driver’s license to go happily down this road of information, most users seem to forget the basic aspects of the network: they are there voluntarily, and voluntarily deliver their data. Digital participation is increasingly important and, in a technologically advanced country like Germany, it should also be the State’s task to make it possible and secure it. But it is also a privilege. And for this to happen, citizens must demonstrate the commitment to assume this long-term responsibility, not only when the next scandal arrives.

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