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WeGov

Remembering to Forget: A Snapshot of Censorship in China on the 25th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 4 2014

A quarter of a century has passed since the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4, 1989, but the Chinese government is working as hard as ever to suppress memories and mentions of the event. This year: verbally blasting Google and other American technology companies through state media outlets, LinkedIn's capitulation to censorship demands, even outside mainland China, and more than 64 Tiananmen-related words blocked from online searches today, including the word “today.”

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WeGov

The Trolls on Putin's Payroll

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 3 2014

Self-explanatory (Wikipedia)

“If it looks like Kremlin shit, smells like Kremlin shit, and tastes like Kremlin shit too — then it’s Kremlin shit,” says Moscow-based writer and columnist Leonid Bershidsky, about Internet trolls-for-hire who have been paid to post laudatory comments about Putin and Russia on English-language news articles. Buzzfeed's Max Seddon reports on the leaks that reveal Russia's offensive strategy to win friends and influence people abroad.

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WeGov

Face Off in Chile: Net Neutrality v. Human Right to Facebook & Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 2 2014

Photo: Wikipedia

Is Internet access a human right, as important as access to education, healthcare and housing? Mark Zuckerberg thinks so, and it inspired him to launch internet.org, an initiative to connect “the next five billion.” So does the United Nations, which declared Internet access a human right in 2011, one that should not be denied even in times of conflict as a means of quelling unrest. And yet the latest blow to cheap and easy access to the Internet (and by the Internet we mean Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia) comes not from an authoritarian state cracking down on an unruly population, but from a government playing by the rules of net neutrality.

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WeGov

Amidst "Apocalyptic" Floods, People of the Balkans Use Facebook for Relief and Rescue

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 30 2014

One of the many photos flagged as fake.

The floods that have ravaged the Balkans this month have been called “apocalyptic” and the resulting damage, officials say, is likely worse than the damage incurred during the three year conflict between Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats in the 1990s. At least 74 people died because of the flooding and nearly 900,000 were forced from their homes. The governments in Serbia and Bosnia, as well as foreign media, have been criticized for failing victims and the region as a whole. Meanwhile, social media, and Facebook in particular, has been heralded as a tool for “information-sharing, social activism, voluntary work, and even a watchdog mechanism.”

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WeGov

Near 3-Year Mark, Open Government Partnership Success Still Unclear

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 29 2014

Hillary Clinton speaking at an OGP meeting in 2011 (Wikipedia)

In a blog post earlier this week, Martin Tisne called the progress made by the Open Government Partnership “one of the best returns on investments we've had.” Bold words from the man who helped found the Open Government Partnership in 2011, and who now works as the Director of Policy for the Omidyar Network's Government Transparency initiative, which committed US$1,480,000 to the initiative in 2012.

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WeGov

Thai Coup Selfies: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 28 2014

Screenshot of a Thai Coup Selfie

A selfie may not be worth a thousand words, but it seems as if they are doing more in Thailand than might be immediately apparent. Based in part on this CNN article, I wrote in a techPresident post last week that the selfies were evidence that Thais were “taking the news [of martial law] in stride.” It seems I did not give the selfies or indeed the selfie takers enough credit.

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WeGov

Trolling the Terrorists, One Official State Department Tweet at a Time

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 22 2014

Screenshot of the @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account

The State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was established in 2011 “to coordinate, orient and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism.” In practice, turns out that often means 'trolling terrorists on Twitter.' Although this has been going on for years (in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali), the practice recently drew increased publicity and scrutiny after the CSCC branched out into the English-language Internet late last year.

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WeGov

What Martial Law in Thailand Means For Freedom of Speech

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Some of the "cute soldiers" on Twitter (Screenshot)

Thailand's military chief declared martial law across the country at 3 a.m. Tuesday, just two weeks after the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from her post. Citizens seem to be taking the news in stride, taking pictures of and with the soldiers; there is even a Twitter hashtag that encourages people to post pictures of cute soldiers. However, soldiers have taken over TV and radio stations, and have asked social media sites for assistance censoring inflammatory posts.

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WeGov

Spanish Politicians Call For More Censored Net After Political Assassination

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 19 2014

Isabel Carrasco did not die because of social media. The Spanish politician was murdered by a 55 year old woman who blamed Carrasco for her daughter's dismissal from the León provincial council in 2011, a snub that was dragged out for years in court over a payment dispute that was eventually decided in the council's favor just days before the murder took place. It is clearly a straightforward, if deranged and poorly planned, revenge killing. Why it has led Spanish politicians to call for the policing of social media is more of a mystery.

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Fleets of Sailing Robots to Help Research & Protect the Oceans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 16 2014

What Protei could eventually do to help clean up plastics (Screenshot of TEDtalk below)

Imagine fleets of small boats cruising around the ocean, monitoring levels of plastic, oil and radioactivity, and eventually helping to clean up the ocean, and all completely unmanned. That may not be as far from reality as one might think. Scoutbots, a company that develops and builds open hardware technologies for environmental stewardship, recently began selling the first commercial prototype of its radio-controlled sailing robot, the Protei 011 “Optimist.” It is kind of like a seafaring drone.

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