The social impact of the Internet has also concerned many commentators because the Internet has the potential effect of accentuating differences in quality of life, both within a society in a single country, and between different nations, essentially creating 'information haves' and 'information have-nots'. This may accentuate social exclusion where one part of society is excluded from the facilities available to the remainder and so becomes isolated. The United Nations, in a 1999 report on human development (p. 63), noted that parallel worlds are developing where those with income, education and - literally - connections have cheap and instantaneous access to information. The rest are left with uncertain, slow and costly access . . . the advantage of being connected will overpower the marginal and impoverished, cutting off their voices and concerns from the global conversation.
While the problem is easy to identify, it is clearly difficult to rectify. Developed countries with the economies to support it are promoting the use of IT and the Internet through social programmes such as the UK government's UK Online initiative, which operated between 2000 and 2004 to promote the use of the Internet by business and consumers. In some developing countries, the Internet is seen as a catalyst for change. The Guardian (2005) reported how Ethiopia has developed a high-speed broadband infrastructure to facilitate education and commerce.
Like other innovations such as mechanised transport, electricity or the phone, the Internet has been used to support social progress. Those with special needs and interests can now communicate on a global basis and empowering information sources are readily available to all. For example, visually impaired people are no longer restricted to Braille books, but can use screen readers to hear information available to sighted people on the web. As we will see, this has implications for disability discrimination laws which impact accessibility. However, these same technologies, including the Internet, can have negative social impacts such as changing traditional social ideals and being used as a conduit for crime. The Internet has facilitated the publication of and access to information, which has led to many benefits, but it has also led to publication of and access to information which most in society would deem inappropriate. Well-known problems include the use of the Internet to incite racial hatred and terrorism, support child pornography and for identity theft. Such social problems can have implications for marketers who need to respond to laws or the morals established by society and respond to the fears generated. For example, portals such as MSN (www.msn.com) and Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com) discontinued their use of unmoderated chatrooms in 2003 since paedophiles were using them to 'groom' children for later real-world meetings.
Part of society is excluded from the facilities available to the remainder.
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There are people all over the world trying to find ways to make money online. From stay at home moms looking to make a few extra dollars to college students and entrepreneurs, the allure of making your own hours and working from home or from the local coffee shop is very appealing.