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First POST: Ownership

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, April 23 2015

"Tell us more about your bog"; the shrinking role of public participation on campaign websites; "Aaron's Law" has been reintroduced in Congress; is the Comcast-TimeWarner merger on its last legs?; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Clues

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, January 9 2015

Updating the Cluetrain Manifesto fifteen years later; how to battle online harassment; CityCamps this weekend; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

FireChat Wasn’t Meant For Protests. Here’s How It Worked (Or Didn’t) at Occupy Central

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 10 2014

Occupy Central is also known as the Umbrella Movement (hurtingbombz/flickr)

On September 28, the third day of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests known as Occupy Central, one of the movement’s leaders, 17-year-old Joshua Wong, posted a message on Facebook to fellow protestors asking them to download an app called FireChat in case the government decided to shut down phone and wifi connections. A week later, even though the government had not cut off connectivity, downloads had more than quadrupled at 450,000. But so far, there's been little reporting on whether FireChat actually enables useful communications among protesters. Read More

Libraries Hope to Help Close the Digital Divide by Lending WiFi Hotspots

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 27 2014

Computers for public use at the New York Public Library (Wikipedia)

Two plans to begin lending portable WiFi hotspots to underserved communities were among the winning projects of the Knight News Challenge to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation. Although the mechanics of the Chicago Public Library and New York Public Library initiatives are unique, the goal—to expand Internet access and promote digital literacy—are the same. Since the target demographic for these projects are underserved, often poor communities, the libraries will have to be careful to not infringe on users' privacy or digital freedoms in order to demonstrate the success of the projects.

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WeGov

Chinese Internet Giant to Fix Backlogged Hospital System

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, June 16 2014

The Internet giant Alibaba Group is angling to disrupt China's inefficient hospital system with an ambitious ten year plan to facilitate nearly every interaction between patient and hospital, from appointment booking to payment to medicine delivery.

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WeGov

The Internet is Not a Horseless Carriage: Talking Tech, Activism & Capacity Building With Zeynep Tufekci

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 6 2014

Zeynep Tufekci speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2014 (photo: PDM)

Yesterday at Personal Democracy Forum, Zeynep Tufekci spoke in a session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword,” which covered the promise and potential of the Internet for both activists and regular citizens, and for authoritarian governments. Only Tufekci doesn't think that is the conversation we should be having—whether the Internet is good or bad, or better for citizens than government, or vice versa. When I asked whether she approaches a new social media movement with initial optimism or pessimism, she said neither.

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WeGov

Founder Durov On Being Ousted From "Russian Facebook": "Some of What We Managed Is Already Impossible to Undo"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, April 22 2014

Screenshot of Durov's VK account

On Monday Pavel Durov, the founder of “Russian Facebook” VKontakte, announced that he was fired—and that he learned of the dismissal from the news media.

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WeGov

Canadian Sex Workers Offered Support & Counseling Via Text Message

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Sex work isn't what it used to be (Wikipedia)

Sex workers are a lot more likely to connect with clients from behind a computer screen than through an open car window these days. Nearly half of the pimps surveyed in a recent Urban Institute study of the underground commercial sex economy reported using online advertisements or classifieds to reach clients. One consequence of this shift is that outreach workers have had to change tactics. In a pilot program called “Project Backpage” activists are scraping phone numbers in “adult” ads on a popular online classifieds site and sending out text messages with offers of support and counseling.

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WeGov

El Marco Civil: An Internet Success Story

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 26 2014

Brazil--a new world leader of net neutrality and an open and free Internet? (Wikipedia)

Yesterday evening the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved the Marco Civil bill, which contains significant protections for net neutrality, user privacy and security, and freedom of expression. The bill is the product of years of work, including a public consultation period in 2009 and 2010. The day of the vote many Brazilians took part in a “compartilhaço” or “sharing storm” on social media, tagging messages of support for the bill #EuQueroMarcoCivil (#IWantMarcoCivil), which became a worldwide trending topic March 25, the day of the vote.

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WeGov

A First: Reporters Without Borders Declares UK, US “Enemies of the Internet”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 17 2014

Screenshot of a graphic from the Reporters Without Borders report

It's official: the surveillance activities of the NSA and the GCHQ have earned the United Kingdom and the United States a new title: “Enemy of the Internet.” They share the honor with the likes of China, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Syria, among others.

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