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WeGov

Write This, Not That: Instructions From China's “Ministry of Truth”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 1 2013

On July 17 a Chinese watermelon vendor died at the hands of plainclothes policemen, or chengguan. The following day, the State Council Information Office sent this missive to China's media outlets: “All websites are asked to remove from their homepages the story of the melon grower beaten to death by chengguan in Linwu County, Chenzhou City, Hunan Province. Do not make special topic pages, and do not post video or images. Delete any such previous posts.” Instructions like this are known by Chinese journalists and bloggers as “Directives from the Ministry of Truth.” More than 2,600 such instructions have been collected on the website China Digital Times.

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Social Media Drives Youth Involvement in Cambodia's National Elections

BY Faine Greenwood | Wednesday, July 31 2013

Kem Sokha (left) and Sam Rainsy, leaders of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (credit: Faine Greenwood)

A new age in political involvement is evolving in Cambodia. Social media use, particularly Facebook and Youtube, has proven to be the driving force in both youth involvement in politics and rising awareness of the issues, as direct engagement allows citizens to circumvent censored state controlled media outlets. Read More

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Social Media is Driving Massive Anti-Government Protests in Bulgaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 24 2013

June's peaceful protests in Bulgaria (Flickr/Bmw Spirit)

After 40 days of peaceful anti-corruption protests, violence erupted late Tuesday night outside the Bulgarian parliament after demonstrators built blockades and trapped more than 100 people inside the building. Riot police forced their way past the protesters and the blockade on Wednesday to free the politicians and journalists who had been trapped inside the parliament building for more than eight hours. Some Bulgarian journalists credit the Internet and social media for inspiring and spreading the #DANSwithme protests, as they are known on Twitter.

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Journalists in Mozambique Have a New Way to Get Help Reporting on Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 19 2013

Screenshot of Citizen Desk's beta version (Sourcefabric.org)

The municipal elections in Mozambique are over four months away but short-staffed newsrooms are already preparing to deal with the persistent conundrum: how do they accurately cover the elections with over 2,500 polling stations to monitor across the country? A new tool called Citizen Desk allows newsrooms to incorporate citizen reports into their news stream, to act as eyes and ears for the upcoming elections. Read More

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Two Mobile Birth Registration Programs Piloted in Senegal and Uganda

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 15 2013

The web application for mobile birth registration in Uganda (image: GSMA)

A recent study by GSMA revealed promising results of two mobile birth registration initiatives piloted in Uganda and Senegal. Birth registration, often a prerequisite for school enrollment and access to health services, are persistently low in Central and West Africa – 39 percent on average. In Senegal and Uganda, the rates are 55 and 21 percent, respectively, according to national Demographic and Health surveys. Read More

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Jhatkaa: Getting India to 'Shake Up'

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

Deepa Gupta, founder of Jhatkaa, discusses her vision for the project in a campaign video. (Jhatkaa.org)

Urinating into an empty dam to fill it, using late-night television as a contraceptive and suggesting Valentine's Day causes rape are a few of the public comments made by Indian politicians, as voiced by frustrated Indian citizens in Jhatkaa’s campaign video. Jhatkaa, which means “to shake up,” is a new civic startup pioneered by Deepa Gupta, a young Indian campaigner. Read More

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Mixed Messages From Iran On Internet Access

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 8 2013

A week after Iran's minister for communications and information technology told the media the country slowed down the Internet before the presidential election on June 14, the president-elect Hassan Rouhani announced he would reduce online censorship. The mixed messages come along with news or at least rumor of a speedy – and easily restricted – “national Internet.”

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The Deposing of the Egyptian President, as Seen on Social Media

BY Lisa Goldman | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Anti-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo (flickr/Zeinab Mohamed)

One year after he became Egypt's first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi has been booted from power. The army has placed the now-former president under house arrest. The ouster came following four days of mass demonstrations, with protestors shouting many of the same chants that were heard during the 18 days leading up to Mubarak's resignation in February 2011. Two days into the dmeonstrations, the army issued a 48-hour warning to the government: It was ordered to respond to popular concerns. Or else. Read More

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Three Things Latin America is Learning About Civic Technology

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Aerial view of Lima, Peru (flickr/NeoKat)

Look closely at any recent wave of street protests and you’re likely to find a group of “civic technologists” trying to find news ways for citizens to participate in the public sector. These are the type of people that came together last week in Uruguay for Latin America’s first “unconference” on open government. Roughly 60 civic technologists talked for two days about their shared challenges and emerging best practices in using technology to engage citizens. Read More

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Protests in Brazil Turn Digital

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 28 2013

While protests continue in streets, hacktavists retreat for a day indoors (Euqueriaser/Flickr)

Inspired by protests in the streets, hacktivists in Brazil are taking to their computers. Organizers drew around 200 engineers, journalists, lawyers and activists to a June 16 event in Sao Paolo. These hacktivists brainstormed on how to make protests more efficient, from tear gas-resistant masks to easier access to public data. Another group of hacktivists met on June 19 in Rio de Janeiro to do their digital part for protesters. Read More