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First POST: Facebook Mobs

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 12 2012


  • The Obama campaign is planning a significant outreach effort targeted at women, the New York Times reported, including "a new Web site that will include links to video testimonials about the health care overhaul signed by Mr. Obama in 2010, including from a former critic who subsequently was found to have breast cancer." The Times also reported that centrist women are becoming disaffected with the Republican party.

  • The Obama campaign has released a trailer for a 17-minute documentary about the first term titled The Road We've Traveled. The documentary is directed by Davis Guggenheim and narrated by Tom Hanks, and features Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren along with Vice President Joe Biden and former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, among others.

  • In a New York Times commentary, a Columbia professor says it is important for society to engage with so-called hackers, particularly those expressing an authentic political voice and examine how they can contribute positively to society. As details continue to come out about the arrest of several LulzSec members, experts suggest that the movement has been hurt, although not permanently. Reuters detailed how the hacker "Sabu" worked full nights online for the FBI, while the New York Times focused on his life on a Lower East Side public housing project where he was allegedly involved in some drug sales, made payments with stolen credit cards and prompted many complaints by neighbors. One of the accused hackers who is from Ireland had led a nonprofit group in Galway which develops open-source applications to improve web security.

  • CQ Roll Call is planning to revamp its website so that voters can easily contact their members of Congress about ongoing news stories. According to the Times, the new website was in part motivated when was slowed by a surge in traffic during the day of action against SOPA.

  • Politico reported that politicians are now warning each other against falling victim to another SOPA moment as they consider legislation that could affect large companies like Google or Amazon. "'There's so much fear about a SOPA backlash that it's almost halting progress on anything,' said one tech industry source who's involved in the cybersecurity talks. 'With every Internet and technology issue coming forward, people worry and ask, 'Is this the next SOPA?''"

  • Notable

  • A former director of engineering at Facebook is becoming chief executive of Reddit.

  • Hank the Cat, Senate candidate in Virginia, now has more Facebook supporters than Democratic candidate Tim Kaine, but is still behind Republican candidate George Allen. Hank has meanwhile released a new campaign ad praising Hank as a "refreshing voice of change" over the inaction and negative campaigning over the established candidates. At the same time, a new "attack ad" titled the 3pm Phone Call warns against voting for Hank because "he doesn't have thumbs" to answer the phone.

  • Two sisters in Oklahoma have created a video in support of Rick Santorum.

  • A magistrate judge in San Francisco has denied Ron Paul’s trademark infringement claims against social media “imposters.” The suit was filed against the “NHLiberty4Paul” YouTube account, which had previously released a video that implied former candidate Jon Huntsman was an agent of the Chinese government.

  • Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan reported that in many unpersonalized Google search results, Rick Santorum's official page appears to be finally ranking first, although the fake definitions from the Spreading Santorum site are back as second and third results.

  • Google compared Super Tuesday search data with delegate and vote results. Even though Romney narrowly won Ohio, he was second in searches to Santorum. According to ABC news and Blue Fin Labs, Santorum set a 2012 election record for the highest spike in Twitter mentions of any GOP candidate on Super Tuesday.

  • The New York Times highlighted how the Scott Brown campaign is criticizing the Elizabeth Warren campaign for its Hollywood support, particularly with a web video, called "The Elitist."

  • Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the Kony 2012 video went viral among other reasons because it focused on people sharing content on social media, started out positive and focused on one bad guy.

  • A new Internet TV network backed by financier Carlos Slim will feature Larry King, among other broadcasts, the New York Times reported.

  • Citing one unnamed source, Reuters media blogger Felix Salmon says CNN is close to buying Mashable and will announce the acquisition Tuesday.

  • The U.S. Army has warned that geo-tagged Facebook posts could put soldiers' lives at risk.

  • Top Republican lawmakers are requesting that the Obama administration provide information on government policy on email surveillance of employees at every federal agency. Emails obtained by the Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act show that the White House was more closely involved than previously reported in seeking the resignation of Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod in 2010.

  • Reuters notes how many Facebook alumni are now involved in political ventures, such as NationBuilder, a political campaign software startup. We reported last week that Mark Zuckerberg roommate and Causes founder Joe Green joined NationBuilder, which is now backed by a long list of current and former Facebookers, including Dave Morin and Dustin Moscovitz.

  • Apple is using OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps on its photo management app for the iPad and iPhone.

  • Google has begun slowing the pace of its book scanning at university libraries.

  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has put up a virtual firewall to block its members from inappropriately baptizing Holocaust victims.

  • International Headlines

  • The Brazilian Justice Ministry said it could launch an official investigation into Google's privacy policy if the company did not provide satisfactory details about how it handles users' personal information within 10 days.

  • In response to a new law in Finland that allows any citizen to propose a new law, some tech entrepreneurs have created a website called Open Ministry as a platform for citizens to discuss proposals and collect the necessary online signatures. But the Finnish government still needs to implement the online procedures needed to verify citizens' identification.

  • In Italy, a Facebook page and an app are encouraging citizens to reveal which businesses don't issue receipts to avoid value added taxes, per the New York Times. "The results were surprising," said Edoardo Serra, one of the creators of the app, which has been downloaded 50,000 times since it was introduced last June. However, there are some concerns because the app users are anonymous.

  • The Modern Poland Foundation is organizing a crowdfunded contest on the future of copyright with Prof. Michael Geist, a copyright specialist, and Piotr Czerski, author of We, the Web Kids, among the judges.

  • Al Jazeera is launching a YouTube campaign to teach viewers in Turkey, Bosnia and other countries how to use Twitter and Facebook.

  • The first women-only Internet cafe.opened in Afghanistan. Young Afghans have been taking to social media to mock proposals by a council of Afghan clerics that would restrict the ability of women to engage in public life.

  • The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged Tajikistan to end a block of Facebook and Russian-language sites in the country which had published material critical of the country's leader.

With Raphael Majma

News Briefs

RSS Feed wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

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. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.


tuesday > Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and And strangely enough, seems to want its early users to ask for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.


monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.


The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.


Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.