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Obama Confronts German NSA Skepticism in TV Interview But Doubts Remain

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 21 2014

Obama tells Claus Kleber, no point in having intelligence if you're restricted to reading media reports (credit: Screenshot/ZDF)

President Obama directly confronted some of the significant skepticism toward U.S. surveillance among the German public in an exclusive interview with German public broadcaster ZDF following his speech Friday. Beyond emphasizing the importance of restoring a trust in German-U.S. relations and dispelling worries about surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the interview's back-and-forth also prompted Obama to spell out the necessary balance he sees between U.S. responsibilities as a country with the most advanced capabilities and inevitable innovation in the area of digital surveillance. German reaction to the interview and the speech was muted, with many German news commentators expressing concern that Obama's vision is in effect a new world order upending established concepts of privacy, rule of law and limited surveillance. Read More

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In Kenya, Bloggers Say New Media Bill Makes Them Vulnerable to Prosecution

BY Neelam Verjee | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The new media law broadens the definition of "journalist" and gives courts authority to impose stiff fines (credit: CPJ)

Kenyan bloggers have sounded a warning that “draconian” media legislation introduced late last year among a storm of controversy could stifle the country’s vibrant online community. Bloggers and writers have expressed concerns about what they called “ambiguous” definitions of the term “journalist” and “journalism” in the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2013, saying that it marked the latest in a string of attempts to crack down on the country’s outspoken virtual community. Read More

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As Govt Ups Censorship of Microblogs, Chinese Netizens Migrate to Other Platforms

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, January 17 2014

Zhihu, a newer online platform allows for more liberal discussions than the oft-censored Weibo (credit: screenshot)

If you’re in China, don’t get too attached to your microblog. Sooner or later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will begin to censor it and you’ll either have to suck it up or move on. New data shows that most are choosing the latter, migrating from the popular microblog Weibo to the (seemingly) more private instant messaging service WeChat, as well as new debate platforms like Zhihu (“Did you know?”), which currently allows users to ask tough questions. Read More

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China's Official Press Agency Can't Win On Twitter Because Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Who doesn't want updates on Yutu's sleeping status?!

It's not terribly surprising that Xinhua News Agency, China's official mouthpiece/press agency, doesn't “get” Twitter. Since the platform is blocked in their country, Xinhua employees can't be expected to become Twitter pros overnight. But it's been almost a year now since @XHNews opened an account; 8,242 (and counting) tweets later and they still only have 23,325 followers.

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Mainstream Media Coverage of Syrian War "Arguably Misleading"; Here's What They Did Wrong

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Today's edition of “don't believe everything you find on the Internet” comes from a new report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on social media and the Syrian Civil War, which the authors call “the most socially mediated civil conflict in history.” It is the third report in the USIP's “Blogs and Bullets” series.

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Assault On Independent Media Site in Zambia Ends In Humiliation For Junior Minister

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 13 2014

After beginning a highly personal war on the independent, anonymous news site Zambian Watchdog, Zambia's Junior Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Miles Sampa suffered numerous blows to his image, and finally backed down from the assault, tail tucked firmly between his legs. It is a prominent victory for the feisty Watchdog, which has endured assaults from the Zambian authorities before.

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The Singapore “Media Destruction Authority” Smothers Homegrown News Site

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 6 2014

kitchen closed

When techPresident covered Singapore's new media regulations last June, only 10 websites had been singled out by the Media Development Authority (MDA), all big corporate news sites. Fast forward six months to the death-by-paperwork demise of start up citizen news site Breakfast Network, which closed “company” doors on December 16. The MDA's effective smothering of the Breakfast Network team has led one blogger to suggest they change their name to the Media Destruction Authority.

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The Cambodian Government's Social Media Nightmare

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, December 18 2013

Prime Minister of Cambodia, and leader of the CPP, Hun Sen (Wikipedia)

The growing popularity of social media in Cambodia, not as entertainment but as a source for alternative news, is threatening the established government leaders and their state-controlled media narratives. In the national elections this June the opposition pulled in 55 seats to the ruling Cambodian People's Party 68, in large part due to the participation of plugged-in and social media-savvy youths. More recently, the government has had their state-approved media account of a November clash between striking garment workers and police refuted by videos uploaded to the Internet and spread through social media.

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How To Win Friends & Influence People on Twitter: The International Organizations Edition

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, December 17 2013

A new Twiplomacy study came out last month, and this time the communications firm Burson-Marstellar tackled international organizations. The study found big differences in terms of followers and retweets between the most popular international organizations on Twitter and the average international organization. For example, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (@CERN) and the United Nations Children's Fund led the crowd in terms of retweets, averaging 100 a tweet. The median average of retweets is only four. So what are those organization doing right?

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SimCity? More Like Office Pro for Cities

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 16 2013

Screenshot from the Microsoft CityNext informational video.

Last month, Microsoft India launched Microsoft CityNext. CityNext is an initiative in which city residents and government officials alike use technology to improve and grow their city. One blogger called it the “Real SimCity for India.” One of the biggest challenges on India's plate right now is how to update aging infrastructure to cope with expected city growth in the next two decades.

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