Will the Internet Destroy Cuba's Communist Dictatorship?

Historic protests enabled by social media and cellphone footage are threatening to finally end Castro's revolutionary regime.


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On Sunday, July 11, thousands of Cubans in dozens of cities around the island nation took to the streets to protest the country's communist dictatorship and persistent shortages in food, energy, and medicine, all of which have been made worse by the pandemic.

The demonstrations have been enabled by social media and the internet, which only came to Cuba in a big way in late 2018, when President Miguel Diaz-Canel allowed citizens access to the internet on their cellphones.

To better understand exactly how Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and other social media platforms are empowering the Cuban people and undermining state control, Reason spoke with Ted Henken, a sociologist at City University of New York's Baruch College and the co-editor of Cuba's Digital Revolution.

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Edited by Ian Keyser. Intro by Paul Detrick.

Photo: Brian Lawless/ZUMA Press/Newscom, ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI/REUTERS/Newscom, Axelle de Russe/Polaris/Newscom

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    Of course, when you control the internet, it no longer matters so much. If this was to stop QAnon or just Tucker it would not matter at all.

    1. You really don’t understand the difference between the government blocking a website and a website owner refusing to host certain content?

      1. When the government starts laying on pressure, there is no difference.

      2. When the “private company” is acting on the behest of a political party and government officials, your argument becomes trash.

      3. What difference, at this point, does it make?

        1. Alternative meme from Agent Smith: What good is a phone call, if you don’t have the ability to speak?

  2. Don’t worry, just like in the US social media platforms will shut down anti-communist dissent and hand over the user information to the benevolent State. Private companies totally not colluding with governments just like you want.

  3. Nah because the powers that be don’t want anyone to be free. You see it in the shit posters that are paid to fluff the democrats on this site.

  4. more likely the internet will help the communist maintain control just like they do in China and the U.S.

  5. “Will the Internet Destroy Cuba’s Communist Dictatorship?”

    Democrats: We must destroy Facebook before its too late!

  6. Will the Internet Destroy Cuba’s Communist Dictatorship?

    Not when OBL becomes Cuba’s favorite commenter.

  7. …the internet, which only came to Cuba in a big way in late 2018, when President Miguel Diaz-Canel allowed citizens access to the internet on their cellphones.

    How did I miss that story? It must not have been Trump-related.

  8. Censorship is the go-to tactic of authoritarians.

    1. Censership is the go-to tactic of the Catholic church.

      1. Communists are such assholes.

      2. I thought it was surprise?

          1. And ruthless efficiencymmm

      3. Do they censor or just altar? Boy I’m not sure.

        1. They both censor and alter altar boys.

  9. Will the Internet Destroy Cuba’s Communist Dictatorship?

    Why would anyone think it would? The Cuban government is now in negotiations with Google to install a country-wide network filter like China has.

  10. It’s time to reacquaint ourselves with The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov, a former Belarussian dissident.

    He wrote that book just before the Arab Spring, when Facebook, Twitter, and social media were being credited with making revolutions possible in North Africa, much like what we’re hearing about Cuba today. His argument was like the old one by C.S. Lewis in “The Abolition of Man”, that the same technology used to inform and educate, like radio, could also be used by the fascists of his time to propagandize and manipulate people. Knives can be used to slice bread or cut the throats of innocent people. We can create carbon free energy with nuclear power, or we can wipe out whole cities in the blink of an eye.

    Social media allows dissidents to organize like they couldn’t before, but it also allows the government to trace the relationships between dissidents and unknown supporters like vicious dictators never could before.

    Right now, we’re living through something of a Red Scare, where Americans are fearful that what they said on social media a decade ago may come back and disqualify them from a job or a management position. The stupid things we said to our friends when we were young were mostly forgotten before. This is new, and it’s because of social media.

    Just recently, Facebook wouldn’t let Americans say things that contradict government agencies like the NIAID or the CDC for fear of having the government use antitrust to break their company up for tolerating “misinformation”. The government didn’t have control of the public square like this before social media. Social media didn’t just give people a way to talk to each other. It also gave the government a new means to control expression and thought–even in the United States of America.

    If the Cuban government falls, it will be because of the pandemic and the economic devastation that caused, and it will be in spite of social media–not because of it. I would bet dollars to doughnuts, that Cuban authorities are using social media to trace dissidents they had never even identified before.

    1. Is there anything that is not a double edged sword?

      1. I think it’s always about the way we use it, and I don’t think it’s ever a one sided sword for good.

    2. Another example . . .

      A lot of us had heard about Echelon going way back to before the internet was such a big thing.

      When we found out about what the NSA was doing in going through all of our emails and tracking our phone calls, it was shocking because we didn’t realize that was both technologically feasible and no longer cost prohibitive. Wow, the cost of processing power, memory, and storage have really gone down!

      Again, smart phones, email, SMS, and social media let us communicate like we never could before–but it also lets the government track our thoughts, feelings, conversations, contacts, and locations like they never could before.

      We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that people are willing to trade in their privacy for whatever they get from smartphones, and maybe their willingness means they’re freer for using smartphones–despite the surveillance and monitoring. That being said, I’m not sure we’re at the end of the journey yet. There may come a time where it’s virtually impossible to communicate with anyone who isn’t in the same room without doing so under surveillance. Thanks technology!

      1. Yep look at how many people are losing their jobs and being publicly shamed just because they were OUTSIDE of the Capitol on Jan 6th.

        Merely protesting or watching the crazy is enough to get you billed as an extremist and threat. That would not be possible without social media and tech tracking.

  11. “Will the Internet Destroy Cuba’s Communist Dictatorship?”

    Great, now do China.

    1. Yeah, why wasn’t that the first article in a series?

  12. I heard this song before. I think it was called Arab Spring…..

    1. Marco Rubio
      The extortionist ring known as the Black Lives Matter organization took a break today from shaking down corporations for millions & buying themselves mansions to share their support for the Communist regime in #Cuba

      1. They probably got the idea from Boehm’s article the other day.

  13. I used to think that revolutions would be facilitated by social media and that preference cascades would happen more quickly.

    Now I realize that the shame chamber of social media makes The Emporer’s New Clothes look like amateur hour, and preference cascades will actually be more difficult to trigger. That and private companies will either happily censor to the govts request to make a buck internationally and the stuff the government does ask them to censor they will gladly censor themselves based on whatever is popular in the shame chambers they have created.

  14. “Will the Internet Destroy Cuba’s Communist Dictatorship?”

    No… It’s socialism… you have to shoot your way out.

    “The true contempt of an invader is shown by deeds of valor in the field.”-Hermocrates

    Talk does nothing. Laws are silent. The only way to liberty in Cuba is over the corpses of government employees.

    1. I hope that Cuba can become a free country with as little bloodshed as possible. Communists should be tried and hanged after a full accounting of their crimes, rather than shot in the streets as the dogs they are.


      1. Why not both trials and shooting in the streets like dogs? It worked for Romania when they rose against Nicholae and Elena Ceauşescu.

        1. The shootings in the streets were against citizens protesting. Unclear if they were armed with fire extinguishers. The Ceausescus were given the dignity of being shot in privacy.

  15. Thank goodness for the internet. Now the Cuban people will know for certain the cause of their troubles:

    1. Those tankie scumbags took a breather from blaming all their problems on white people to express support for the oppressors of the Cuban people? No way!


    2. They are so Marxist. They were calling each other “comrades” on their “about us!” page before they scrubbed it after someone let them know they were supposed to hide their Marxism.


    The democrats are not just having their friends at Google/Facebook/Twitter block information they oppose in search, twitter posts, facebook posts and shared memes. They are also moving to limit your capability to share such information via sms.

    But don’t worry…. the DNC assures us that it is all a lie… because “Joe Biden is not reading everyone’s messages”. So that makes it all a lie. And really, all they are doing is using machine learning to monitor SMS messages that are sent out in bulk or copy pasted repeatedly that carry disinformation…. you know, so they can act to block or counter it. Which is totally not the same thing as monitoring SMS messages and blocking stuff they don’t like.

    It is just right wing spin. Nothing to see here.

    1. I mean, just look at Hong Kong to see how well internet inspired protests work.

  17. Cuba has been a failed communist experiment for 70 years!

    Failing for 70 years and not dying seems a little like success to me. Depends on your expectations from life, I guess.

    I wonder why we don’t embargo Saudi Arabia. They have a form of government we aren’t supposed to like too. What we don’t have is a population of Saudi expatriates living in Florida, I guess.

    1. I guess 70 years of stagnation, starvation, atrophy, oppression and death is your expectation for success.

      And actually, we were undermining the Saudis by drilling our own oil until Sleepy, Creepy, Crazy, Cranky, Tankie, Corn-Pop, Lunch-Bucket, Basement-Bunker, Shotgun Joe shut down the Keystone Pipeline.

      1. Meh… I’ve been there. It’s not that bad.

    2. Failing for 70 years and not dying seems a little like success to me.

      That sounds stupid to me.

      I wonder why we don’t embargo Saudi Arabia.
      Probably for the strategic significance of both.

      1. Tony is stupid, yes.

        1. Yeah, that guy says some really stupid things.

    3. I wonder why we don’t embargo Saudi Arabia.

      Because the Saud crime family hasn’t stolen any American property.

      What you lefturds never mention, probably because you don’t even know it, is that the embargo was imposed because the Castro regime decided to “nationalize” real estate and other property that belonged to Americans.

      They could end the embargo anytime by compensating the victims, but they won’t do so because the embargo is their top excuse for the dismal squalor they’ve imposed on the Cuban people.


      1. Socialists always fail. Then they blame their failure on someone else.

  18. Why I wouldn’t get my hopes up, in one word: Belarus.

  19. The interweb might free Cuba and enslave America. Fucking twisty outcome.

  20. I’m amazed that the Cubans could organize anything on their rickety internet system.
    When we visited there, we had to stand in line for over an hour to buy a card to access the internet. You could only buy about $5 worth at one time. If you were in a hurry, you might find a scalper selling the cards at twice the price. Then it was a roll of the dice to find a wi-fi hot spot that actually worked. Mostly, they didn’t. Best of luck to the Cubans. They were very friendly to us Americans – they wore Yankees baseball caps, American flag T-shirts, and drove classic Chevies, Fords and Cadillacs. Some even had Christmas trees and pictures of the Pope in their home. The repression was invisible to us tourists – no soldiers or armed cops on the streets as in other Central American countries – but no doubt the natives have a different view. No wonder they’re growing restless.

    1. I think there’s a terrific market opportunity for someone to smuggle StarLink antennas into Cuba.


  21. Here’s a shock from the “blind pig finds an acorn” category: AOC came out against the Cuban regime today. I thought she was a tankie to the bitter end.


  22. The internet has certainly helped to destroy communism here in the land of the free and home of the brave.

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