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Bad News Bots: How Civil Society Can Combat Automated Online Propaganda

BY Sam Woolley and Phil Howard | Wednesday, December 10 2014

Clever Script Kiddies (by DeNovo Broome, CC BY 2.0)

t’s no secret that governments and political actors now make use of social robots or bots—automated scripts that produce content and mimic real users. Faux social media accounts now spread pro-governmental messages, beef up web site follower numbers, and causeartificial trends. Bot-generated propaganda and misdirection has become a worldwide political strategy. In this guest post, Sam Woolley and Phil Howard suggest some ways to fight back. Read More

WeGov

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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First POST: Georemixing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, May 22 2014

Ethan Zuckerman on the global politics of YouTube georemixes; Facebook's flip-flop on user privacy; California's push to take "do not track" requests seriously; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Decay

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, May 21 2014

The USA Freedom Act surveillance reform bill is getting watered down; Data.gov's 5th anniversary is no cause for celebration; Iran cracks down on "Happy" YouTube video sharers; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

More Confusion Within Iranian Government on Censorship

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, May 6 2014

Iran announced over the weekend its plans to block Whatsapp but President Hassan Rouhani claims the ban will not take place. Read More

WeGov

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 23 2014

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. Read More

WeGov

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

2006 story in the Toronto Star (Hossein Derakhshan)

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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WeGov

How Does Lebanese Censorship Stack Up Against Chinese, Iranian and Russian?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Kiss: banned (Wikipedia)

Since 2011 the NGO March Lebanon has been curating examples of censorship in Lebanon in a Virtual Museum of Censorship.

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The Day We - But Not Wikipedia - Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 11 2014

Screen shot of the defunct Wikipedia planning page for The Day We Fight Back

Drop by the Wikipedia main page today and you will find a featured article on the constellation Perseus. Conspicuously absent is The Day We Fight Back banner so many other websites like reddit, Boing Boing, and Upworthy are flying. Nor did they set Edward Snowden as the featured article, as someone suggested in a thread on what, if any, action should be taken today. Although it was discussed in multiple Wikipedia forums, no consensus was ever reached, and so Wikipedia is sitting this one out.

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WeGov

Facebook at 10: Over the Hill in the US, Growing Pains Abroad

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 4 2014

Happy birthday, Facebook! (Puschinka/Wikipedia)

Today is the 10th anniversary of The Facebook. At the start of the new year, it boasted 1.23 billion users worldwide. While we in the United States fret over Facebook's alleged identity crisis or whether or not it is “over the hill” or happily middled aged, in other parts of the world Facebook is an essential platform for mobilization and activism and even, in many places, a gateway to the world wide web (if not the Internet in its entirety).

In honor of Facebook's birthday, techPresident presents a round up of Facebook news from around the world.

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