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The term Netizen is a portmanteau of the words Internet and citizen as in "citizen of the net".[1][2][3] It describes a person[4] actively involved in online communities or the Internet in general.[5][6] The term commonly also implies an interest and active engagement in improving the Internet, making it an intellectual and a social resource,[4] or its surrounding political structures, especially in regard to open access, net neutrality and free speech.[7] Netizens are also commonly referred to as cybercitizens, which has similar connotations.
The term was widely adopted in the mid-1990s as a way to describe those who inhabit the new geography of the Internet.[8] Internet pioneer and author Michael F. Hauben is credited with coining and popularizing the term.[4][9][10][11][12]

Quotations from Michael and Ronda Hauben[edit]

Hauben describes the distinction to Internet users in general by saying:[14][15][16]

In China[edit]

In Chinese, the terms wǎngmín (网民, literally "net-people") and wǎngyǒu (网友, literally "net-friend") are commonly used terms meaning "Internet users", and the English word "Netizen" is used by mainland China-based English language media to translate both terms, resulting in the frequent appearance of that English word in media reporting about China, far more frequently than the use of the word in other contexts.[17][18]

The Netizen Prize[edit]

The international nonprofit organization Reporters Without Borders awards an annual Netizen Prize in recognition to an Internet user, blogger, cyber-dissident, or group who has helped to promote freedom of expression on the Internet.[19][20][21] The organization uses the term when describing the political repression of cyber-dissidents such as legal consequences of blogging in politically repressive environments.

See also[edit]

  • Digital citizen – citizens (of the physical space) using the Internet as a tool in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation[22]
  • Internaut – operators or technically highly capable users of the Internet[23][24]
  • Netiquette – social conventions for online communities
  • Cyberspace – the new societal territory that is inhabited by Netizens
  • Active citizenship – the concept that citizens have certain roles and responsibilities to society and the environment and should actively participate
  • Internet pioneer – those who helped erect the theoretical and technological foundation of the Internet (instead of improving its content, utility or political aspects)


  1. ^ Seese, Michael. Scrappy Information Security. p. 130. ISBN 978-1600051326. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  2. ^ Hauben, Michael. "The Expanding Commonwealth of Learning: Printing and the Net". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Hauben, Michael F. (24 November 1995). "The Netizens and Community Networks - Presented at the Hypernetwork '95 Beppu Bay Conference". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c DeLoach, Amelia (September 1996). "What Does it Mean to be a Netizen?". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  5. ^ netizen,
  6. ^ The Net and Netizens by Michael Hauben, Columbia University.
  7. ^ What is netizen? definition
  8. ^ Thompson, Steven John. Global Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies. p. 4. ISBN 978-1466660106. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Butler, Simon. "Michael F. Hauben". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Hauben, Ronda. "Internet PIONEER Michael Hauben". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  11. ^ a b c Horvath, John (27 July 2001). "Death of a Netizen". Heise Online. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Orlowski, Andrew (30 June 2001). "Michael Hauben, Netizen, dies". The Register. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  13. ^ Hauben, Michael; Hauben, Ronda. "Preface: What is a Netizen". Netizens: On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet (PDF). pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-8186-7706-9. 
  14. ^ DeLoach, Amelia (September 1996). "What is a Netizen?". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "The need for a Netizens Association". March 1996. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  16. ^ Hauben, Michael; Hauben, Ronda (November 1995). "What is a Netizen?". first monday. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  17. ^ Brian Fung, "'Netizen': Why Is This Goofy-Sounding Word So Important in China?", The Atlantic, 11 October 2012
  18. ^ Matt Schiavenza, "Enough with the word "Netizen"", The Atlantic, 25 September 2013
  19. ^ "World Day Against Cyber-Censorship: new “Enemies of the Internet” list". 11 March 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  20. ^ "Netizen Prize 2012: nominees". 27 February 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  21. ^ Manea, Elham (5 November 2014). "Reporters Without Borders award Raif Badawi the Netizen Prize for 2014". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 
  22. ^ Mossberger, Karen. "Digital Citizenship - The Internet, Society and Participation" By Karen Mossberger, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Ramona S. McNeal." 23 Nov. 2011. ISBN 978-0819456069
  23. ^ A Brief History of the Internet from the Internet Society
  24. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries - internaut". Retrieved 6 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]