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In Wake of Public Outcry, Iran Lifts "Indefinite" Block on Gmail After One Week

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, October 1 2012

One week after announcing that access to Gmail and Google search would be blocked indefinitely in the Islamic Regime of Iran, regime officials restored access to the popular online platforms while claiming that they had unintentionally blocked them while trying to filter the crude anti-Islam film, "Innocence of the Muslims." Meanwhile, the Ministry of Telecommunications launched its own official email service, which requires users to register. Read More

Food Fight Over Labeling Of Genetically Modified Food Extends To The Web

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, September 28 2012

Can facts compete with viral images on Facebook? Proposition 37 in California could be a test.

California is once again on the forefront of an emerging national debate: This time, it's over the question of whether companies should label genetically-modified foods. On Election Day, Californians will vote on Proposition 37, which would, with some exceptions, require foods sold in the state to be labeled as genetically modified, and prevent them from being labeled as "natural." If voters approve the measure, the state would be the first to place such a requirement on food companies.
In addition to the usual television and radio ads and mailers, a battle of perception is being waged online on a topic that's ripe for exploitation: "Frankenfoods." Read More

ICYMI: K-Pop Phenomenon PSY Asks For El Monte Lifeguards' Jobs Back

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, September 17 2012

News of the group of Southern Californian lifeguards' firing for making and sharing a parody of "Gangnam Style" made it to MTV last week, where the tune and video's creator PSY appealed for the lifeguards' jobs back. Read More

You Gotta Have Friends: New Study Shows Facebook Can Get Out the Vote

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 12 2012

Photo by Micah L. Sifry, 2008

A new study by researchers led by U.C. San Diego that is being published tomorrow in the journal Nature offers detailed evidence that a non-partisan get-out-the-vote reminder on Facebook can also increase voter turnout--especially if they come with evidence that your real friends are also voting. Read More

WeGov

Spanish Physicians Mount Online Campaign to Protest Cuts to Immigrant Health Care

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 11 2012

Screenshot taken from Derecho a Curar website

In response to budget cuts that would eliminate free health care for undocumented immigrants, Spanish physicians created an online protest campaign under the auspices of Medicos del Mundo. Read More

WeGov

Websites as Political Organizers

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 11 2012

A prominent Egyptian activist and labor organizer explains in detail how websites can be used for effective political organization. Includes fascinating data about the rise in Internet access amongst the very poor, whose primary portal is increasingly their mobile phones. Read More

ICYMI: Obama Campaign's Tech Tools of Persuasion Working "Incredibly Well," Says Campaign Manager Jim Messina

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, September 5 2012

Just in case you missed it, the Obama campaign's top campaign managers spent Tuesday morning boasting about their tech and field operations, with campaign manager Jim Messina saying that the campaign this time around is ... Read More

If Your Friend Writes a Political Rant on Facebook, Will It Change Your Mind?

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, September 4 2012

There's a joke quote circulating on Facebook that goes like this: "'Your relentless political Facebook posts finally turned me around to your way of thinking,' said nobody, ever."

The funny thing is, that might not actually be true.

"People whose friends post some (or a lot of) political content on social networking sites are much more likely to say that they have changed their mind about a political issue or become more involved with a political issue after reading/discussing them on a social network (compared with people whose friends don’t post much political content)," Aaron Smith, a senior researcher at the Pew Internet & American Life Project, told me Tuesday via email.

Read More

WeGov

Crowdsourcing Disaster Response Via Social Media and SMS

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 27 2012

In two detailed and important blog posts, Patrick Meier explains how grassroots activists are using social media platforms and mobile phones to coordinate disaster relief, often when the government's response is inadequate. In many cases, Meier points out, the grassroots networks existed already, having been created as a means of coordinating political protest. Read More

On Facebook, A Torrent of Outrage And Disgust As Todd Akin Asks For a "THUMBS UP"

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, August 21 2012

Thousands of people have taken to Facebook to urge Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin to withdraw from the Senate race

All hell might be breaking loose within the Republican party in the wake of Missouri House Republican Todd Akin's bizarre Sunday comment exposing the idea that he thinks that some forms of rape are "legitimate," but the ... Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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