A netizen is a citizen of the Internet who is actively involved in online communities and engaged in improving and preserving the potential of the Internet as a force for good in society at large.
A netizen, short for “citizen of the Internet”, is an active member of the Internet community. However, just spending a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter won't make you a netizen. To become a netizen you must be actively involved in efforts to keep the Internet open, neutral, and free from speech censorship.
Open access is a concept championed by netizens that encourage the release of academic research under licensing that makes it free to read online, and sometimes even free to reuse. Open access proponents hold that by making academic research freely accessible, social inequality barriers that prevent access to research are reduced or removed. Research authors also argue that by making their research open access the potential impact of their work is increased since the work has the potential to reach a much wider audience.
Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) and governmental organizations should treat all web traffic that same way. If net neutrality is not maintained, large companies and other entities with deep pockets will be able to negotiate bandwidth allowances with ISPs effectively sidelining competing services and viewpoints that don't have the same financial backing. Net neutrality is championed by netizens as a key component necessary to ensure that the Internet remains a fertile realm for controversial ideas and new ventures that entrenched powerful interests may wish to suppress.
Free speech advocates consider the Internet to be a realm where political dissent and all other types of protected speech should be allowed and encouraged. Social media in particular has been used extensively to fuel and direct political activism and reforms around the globe. Netizens value the power of the web as a potentially transformative medium through which ideas can spread, and support the protection of free speech online.
The Netizen Prize has been awarded annually since 2010 by Reporters Without Borders to a netizen who has made a notable contribution to the defense of online freedom. Iranian women's rights activists, Tunisian political bloggers, Syrian citizen journalists, a Vietnamese blogger, and a Saudi Arabian blogger have all been receipts of the award.
Also See: Netiquette
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the term netizen used in any other ways?
As explained above, the term netizen usually refers to someone engaged in keeping the web open, neutral, and free from speech censorship. However, the term is also sometimes used to refer to anyone actively involved online in any type of political reform. For example, the Black Live Matter movement has spread largely through the use of hashtags on social media. Someone actively involved in spreading a political movement like Black Lives Matter online may also be referred to as a netizen. While in this case the term may be applied to someone who isn't involved in maintaining online freedom, it is applied more broadly to someone taking advantage of the availability of freedom and reach online.