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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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WeGov

When Cute Cats Aren't Enough to Save Vimeo (or Reddit, Imgur, & 100+ Other Sites Blocked in Indonesia)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 14 2014

In his 2008 talk on the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, Ethan Zuckerman said “if you're not getting porn in your system, it doesn't work.” The idea is that popular platforms flush with cute cats and other innocuous, user-generated content are robust enough to support more controversial content, like pornography and social and political activism. Governments around the world, however, are throwing cute cats to the wind in their quest to rid the Internet of pornography (as impossible as that must seem to people who use the Internet). The most recent victims of the porn crackdown: Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur, which are now all blocked in Indonesia.

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WeGov

British Police Officers Ask Blogger to Delete Politically Critical Tweet

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 13 2014

This weekend two Cambridgeshire police officers called upon the blogger Michael Abberton at his home residence. After asking to come in for a chat they asked Abberton to delete a certain tweet, even though they clearly said no laws had been broken. According to Abberton, who wrote about the exchange on his blog Axe of Reason, the complaint had come from the political party mentioned in the offending (although not in any way illegal) tweet. The exchange has raised questions about censorship, police intimidation, and the influence of this political party.

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WeGov

Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

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WeGov

Mexican Politicians "Cave" to Internet Activists, But Was It A Ruse?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 2 2014

President Barack Obama and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico share a toast (Wikipedia)

Last week activists in Mexico drew the world's attention to a bill proposed by President Enrique Peña Nieto that would do away with net neutrality and user privacy measures, among other changes. The protest hashtag #EPNvsInternet (Enrique Peña Nieto vs the Internet) drew nearly a million tweets and became a global trending topic. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets to protest the bill on April 22 in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey. The media reported that Mexico's governing party immediately backed away from the proposed legislation, with promises to change the problematic clauses before the vote, which has been postponed until June. However, activists behind #EPNvsInternet worry that the party will try to pass the bill with little to no changes during the Football World Cup, when the attention of their citizens is elsewhere.

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WeGov

With New Android App, Chinese Netizens Can See What Their Gov't Wants to Suppress

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 30 2014

Weibo via @RichardBuangan

Last year, on the 24th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre, Chinese netizens uploaded doctored images of the iconic photograph of the “Tank Man,” with big yellow ducks or Angry Birds characters taking the place of the military vehicles. Searches for “big yellow duck” on the microblogging platform Sina Weibo were summarily censored, and individual images hand-deleted. It seems almost inevitable that something similar will flood the Chinese Internet this year, yet when and if it does, Chinese citizens will be able to use the Android app FreeWeibo to peruse deleted posts.

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WeGov

This Chrome Extension Rates Tweets Based On Their Credibility

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 28 2014

An alethiometer (bandita/Flickr)

On April Fool's Day you can't believe anything you read on the Internet. And on the other 364 days of the year you still have to use reason and common sense to avoid falling for or even spreading online rumors. Misinformation can be particularly damaging during natural disasters or other social crises if it impedes or misleads emergency response. Journalists also have to be wary of retweeting or reposting unverified information. Wouldn't it be nice if there were a way of gauging how credible a tweet may be? Well, the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) and the Precog Research Group at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIITD) are collaborating on a tool that aims to do just that.

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WeGov

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

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 24 2014

The new BBC series Sherlock is a popular subject for dan mei (Wikipedia)

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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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