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An Online Platform From China's Internet Giants Targets The Virtual Rumor Mill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 6 2013

While China has long known how to manage state media, social media has been harder to control. Blocking search terms has had mixed results, and is hardly foolproof. Bloggers in China have learned to avoid the censors using coded or humorous language. In a new attempt to manage social media, six Chinese Internet companies have partnered with the Beijing Internet Information Office on an online platform meant to debunk rumors (or “rumors”) and false (“false”) informations.

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Restrictions on Social Media Target Vietnamese Citizen Journalists

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 5 2013

Nguyen Tan Dung, PM of Vietnam (Wikipedia>)

An amendment to Vietnam's already draconian Internet laws bans Internet users from sharing “compiled information” on their websites, blogs or social media pages. The decree will make the government's ongoing persecution of activist bloggers and citizen journalists completely legal. Signed into law by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on July 15, the new regulations will go into effect September 1.

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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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Online and Off, Assaults on Independent Media in Zambia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, July 19 2013

President Michael Sata (Flickr)

In the past two weeks Zambian authorities have stepped up their assaults on the independent news site the Zambian Watchdog. Since July 9, three journalists have been arrested for allegedly contributing to the site, and at least one has been charged with sedition. Meanwhile, authorities blocked access to Zambian Watchdog on Tuesday. After the site was moved to a different address, the new location was quickly blocked as well. Reporters Without Border created a mirror site, but today reported that it was blocked within hours.

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From the Courtroom, Russian Activist Defiantly Tweets to the End

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, July 18 2013

On Thursday a Russian court found opposition leader and Moscow mayoral candidate Aleksei Navalny guilty of embezzling money from a state-controlled timber company. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and the conviction will bar him from running in political races. The ruling singlehandedly eliminates Vladimir Putin's most formidable political foe. While the judge read the full sentence, which took more than three hours, Navalny and the rest of the courtroom live-tweeted the proceedings, even after they were ordered to turn off their phones.

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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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Brazilians Protest Forced Evictions on YouTube and in Mock World Cup

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 14 2013

Screenshot from a YouTube video about forced evictions

Tomorrow Brazilians who have been forced out of their housing in advance of the 2014 World Cup will stage their own “People's Cup” in Rio de Janeiro to draw awareness to forced evictions.

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Macedonia Draft Law to Regulate and Restrict the "Last Arena for Freedom of Speech"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 12 2013

Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, (Wikipedia)

The draft of a media regulation law in Macedonia has journalists and press freedom watchdogs up in arms. The proposed Law on Media and Audiovisual Media Services was written by the government behind closed doors and without input from the media or NGOs. It has been interpreted as a decisive move on the part of the government to limit speech online in a country where press freedoms are already limited. Until now, Internet-based news sites were not regulated like print media.

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Canada Has its Own Version of PRISM, Reveals Toronto Newspaper

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 11 2013

President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Pete Souza via Wikipedia)

While it may not have a Bond film-worthy name like PRISM, it turns out Canada has a surveillance program of its own. Canadian news outlet The Globe and Mail learned about the program through Access to Information requests filed with the government. They sifted through hundred of records, although extensive passages were redacted for reasons of national security so there are still lingering questions and concerns.

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Jordanian Government Commences Blocking Websites

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 4 2013

Four of the sites blocked by the Jordan government

What do Time Out magazine, Al Jazeera, Penthouse and the Muslim Brotherhood all have in common? Their websites were all blocked this weekend by the Jordan government for failing to register for a license.

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