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First POST: Reconsidering

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, March 27 2012

A March 21 New York City protest after the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Photo: Joe Lustri


  • The Wall Street Journal reported on campaign advertising online and noted the following:

    The Obama campaign had already spent some $10.4 million on Internet advertising and other online expenses by the beginning of March, according to a review of campaign-finance reports by the Center for Responsive Politics. Mr. Romney had spent $2.3 million, more than any of his rivals. Rick Santorum's campaign had spent just $323,000 or so on Internet ads, according to the Center, but Santorum aides have been aggressively using Twitter and other social-media networks for fundraising and to get out their candidate's message.

  • As questions rise over what exactly happened when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot, MoveOn and ColorofChange are sharing a video featuring a "Song for Trayvon" in an e-mail to supporters. Earlier, an I Could Be Trayvon Tumblr had emerged, as well as a Tumblr showing Fox News journalist Geraldo Rivera in a hoodie following remarks he made in which he suggested that African-American parents should tell their children not to wear them. Brian Stelter from the New York Times reported on how journalists from minority backgrounds in part were drawn to the Martin case through posts directed at them on social media.

  • The U.S. government scientist who first used the now infamous "pink slime" did so in an e-mail that he thought was private.. He had criticized the beef industry's proposal for a mix of fatty beef by-products and connective tissue, ground up and treated with ammonium hydroxide, and blended with ground beef, in an e-mail to co-workers that later was released through a Freedom of Information Request submitted in the course of reporting a 2009 New York Times article on food safety. The term has since become a rallying cry for consumer advocates.

    The issue got renewed life when British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who advocates for American children to eat healthier food, devoted an episode of his television show to the topic in April last year. Disgusted by the product, consumer activist organizations, food safety blogs and the media have pounced on the issue. More than a million people have watched a YouTube video of Oliver's show, an online petition has begun and consumers have complained to major grocery companies ... "The whole thing went viral ... Just blew the top off everything," said [the scientist] Gerald Zirnstein...."I am really an involuntary whistleblower," he said. But he added, "It looks like pink slime. That is what I said."

    The company that makes the product announced yesterday it is suspending operations at three of four plants.

  • Some fund-raising for the Susan G. Komen foundation is lagging following the dispute over its financing of Planned Parenthood. In a column, David Carr, looking at exits from the Komen Foundation, the investigation of the Trayvon Martin case, and more, concludes that maybe he was mistaken in his initial skepticism of online activism.


International Headlines

  • A new stock exchange called BATS Global Markets had to halt trading on its own stock after technical glitches and errors in its system, also affecting companies like Apple.

  • Germany's Pirate Party received 7.4 percent of the vote in the elections for the state parliament of Saarland, its second electoral success after winning 8.9 percent in elections for Berlin's city-state assembly last year. The liberal FDP party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner, only received 1.2 percent and will not be represented in the parliament. Der Spiegel reported that the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote:

    These Pirates, who owe some of their image to their racy name, have now established themselves in provincial Saarland following their grandiose success in big city Berlin. Until recently, they didn't even have political platforms. Ahead of the general election, the other parties can now safely assume that the success of the Pirates is more than just hype. The Pirate Party evidently satisfies a trusting, impartial, heartfelt, grassroots desire for politics. This desire has become alien to an increasingly frumpy and jaded FDP, and the Greens have lost this desire in the daily grind of parliamentary politics.

  • German police forces are increasingly using social media to hunt for suspects and witnesses in spite of data protection concerns.

  • Nicolas Sarkokzy has joined Google Plus.

  • Canada's opposition party faced delays in voting for a new leader as hackers attacked the computer system that allowed party members to cast their ballots online and slowed down the system.

  • Several countries have kicked off a six-month-long campaign that will involve volunteers using the Internet to target illegal trash dumps.

  • Greeks have come together to fund a Times Square ad advertising Greek tourism using a crowdfunding site called Loudsauce, dedicated to crowdfunding advertisements.

  • The Guardian highlighted the Satellite Sentinel Project backed by George Clooney, which uses satellite imagery to monitor potential human rights abuses in Sudan.

  • The European Union has banned the sale of Internet surveillance equipment to Iran. Meanwhile, U.S. and European officials say that Iran is providing technology and expertise on monitoring the Internet to Syria.

  • An activist in the United Arab Emirates is free on bail, but faces charges for commenting on uprisings against autocratic Arab rulers in his Twitter posts.

  • Teletubbies have become part of a code for Chinese microbloggers seeking to escape censorship.

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.