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India Bans Bulk Text Messages in Vain Attempt to Quell Rumors of Internecine Conflict

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, August 20 2012

In an attempt to stop a panicked mass migration due to rumors spread via text messages and social media, the Indian government blocked websites and ordered mobile service providers to cap subscribers' emails at five per day. But Internet savvy phone users easily circumvented the cap on text messages and Indians jeered on Twitter, using the hashtag #5SMS to criticize the government's ham fisted attempts at censorship Read More

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With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More

In the Slums of Nairobi, a Mobile Phone is More Valuable than Clean Drinking Water

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, July 30 2012

Ethan Zuckerman, the director of MIT's Center for Civic Media, traveled recently to the Nairobi slum of Baba Dogo to see if there was demand for some simple hardware that could enable people with their own generators to supply energy to multiple customers for low fees paid via mobile payments. He thought Kenya would be an ideal market because it had a very successful mobile payments system,Safaricom, that was used by more than 70 percent of Kenyan adults. Given the poor infrastructure in the slums, he thought it was fair to assume that few people had access to electricity. It turned out he was wrong about that — and about a few other things, as well. Read More

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YouTube Now Lets You Blur Faces in Videos: What This Means for Safety-Minded Activists

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 18 2012

Today YouTube is rolling out a new feature that allows users to obscure faces that appear within videos before posting them.

"Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube," YouTube policy associate Amanda Conway wrote in a blog post.

One expert in video in activism calls this "a step in the right direction," but warns that the most important tool for videographers is an understanding of when and why to use this kind of feature.

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The Pocket Campaign: Mobile Politics in 2012

BY Jack Harris | Monday, March 26 2012

Toronto mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi canvasses with an iPad in 2010. Photo: Rocco Rossi

The past two years offer several fresh, new examples of how causes and campaigns willing to experiment with mobile technology reported back that they were rewarded with a network of more engaged, more empowered volunteers. Last year, for example, activists fought tooth-and-nail in several states around ballot initiatives and recall efforts. In those fights, often for the first time, grassroots organizers began to ask volunteers to work on their phones and tablets. At the same time, candidates in 2011 local and congressional races took advantage of mobile tools and tactics that had been developed in higher-profile races in prior years, but had now become cost-effective for the small campaign. This special report updates that tranche of examples with case studies from across the country. Each one explores how mobile technology has become part of the organizing, messaging and fund-raising strategy of some tech-savvy causes and campaigns. Read More

For Tea Partiers, A New Tool to Get Out the Vote On the Fly

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 12 2012

Tea Party activist group FreedomWorks for America is rolling out mobile voter canvassing and get-out-the-vote tools for supporters, it announced in a recent email.

Using the tool from the conservative-minded firm Political Gravity, FreedomWorks supporters are supposed to be able generate maps of doors knock on to find likely Republican voters and identifies folks who have cast ballots in three out of the past four Republican primary elections. Users of FreedomWorks' social network for Tea Party activists, Freedom Connector, will be able to access the app for selected campaigns where the organization has made an endorsement. Through the app, users who give their location get lists of nearby voters to contact and maps that trace a canvassing route through a neighborhood.

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Mobile Political Ads Could Be Coming To You, Wherever You Are

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, November 29 2011

Over at Politico, Emily Schultheis digs in to how targeted political advertising might show up on your phone more often next year. Between anecdotes about mobile ads in the field, like one from Rep. Michele Bachmann's ... Read More

Is There a 'Hardly Anyone Uses Foursquare' Badge?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, September 7 2011

Americans are still tuned out from the check-in. A study released yesterday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that a paltry seven percent of all adults have their phones set to automatically tag their ... Read More

Free-Speech Advocates Push for FCC to Rule On BART Cellphone Service Shutdown

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 31 2011

In the wake of a shutdown of cellphone service earlier this month the San Francisco Bay Area's commuter rail provider, BART, in order to stop a political protest, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others have asked ... Read More

In San Francsico, The FCC Is Watching

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 15 2011

Federal Communications Commission spokesperson Neil Grace just sent along this statement about the developing situation in San Francisco, where the public transit authority, BART, has staked a claim on the right to shut ... Read More