Editor’s Note: This is part 3 of a 3-part piece we hope will spark conversations about the future of our virtual lives. This is a fictional account of what could happen in 2013 based on issues laid out in Part 1, the fight for Internet freedom. Part 2 looks at what an engaged online community can do.
January 1, 2014
MANILA, Philippines – At Rappler, we believe tomorrow begins today. The future is determined by the actions we take this year, and the occurrences in 2015 will be vastly different depending on how people everywhere act in 2014. Sadly, Rappler may no longer be able to walk with you on that journey to the future.
As many of you perhaps realize, one of the most important things to maintaining the growth of an Internet based social news network like Rappler is the freedom to be who we are on the Internet. Creating change in a community as large as the world stage is difficult, not only because individuals can be resistant to change, but also because frameworks in society exist that can make change difficult without necessarily toppling the existing structures that have maintained relative order.
With the shift in the world’s governments towards managing the Internet rather than allowing a growing and free worldwide web, we will be honest in saying that finding advertisements and sponsors who would not back state-owned publications and Internet ventures has proven increasingly difficult.
The Cybercrime law passed deliberations by politicians after the temporary restraining order was lifted. It was not a happy day for many when the first SWAT team came in to arrest the first person to disagree with a re-elected Senator, but there was no place left to speak of disdain. For some reason, everyone cared, but no one watched and worked for change.
The world doesn’t change overnight though, and while the Internet remained available for use, no one could use it freely. The issues surrounding humanity persisted.
While the Philippines was coming to terms with an Internet that would not remain free, we were covering the Philippine elections and keeping tabs on people who would seek to bring violence into the proceedings. While the world was moving rapidly towards a controlled virtual world, Rappler was trying to foster a global community.
Rappler could make do without advertisers. It could survive as one of the few remaining news sites in existence. Ultimately, Rappler as an entity cannot exist without the people, and without individuals who are fearless in reporting the news or in keeping the site up, Rappler ceases to serve the vision it set out for itself when it first entered the world in 2012.
We, the journalists of Rappler who work to bring you the news daily, hope that Rappler’s colorful life will not be in vain. We thank you for allowing us to be a part of your world, and we hope that you can start making ripples in your community today, even if Rappler no longer exists. – Rappler.com