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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

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.


wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.


The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

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.


tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.


Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.


monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.


friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO