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First POST: The New Online War

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, November 16 2012

From the Middle East, bizarre reflections of the violence appear online

  • As the violence in Middle East continued, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a Tumblr to document their side of the conflict. Meanwhile, questions are being raised over whether the way the IDF has been using social media conforms with social networks' terms of service. All Things Digital had reported Wednesday that Facebook did not plan on taking any action based on the current content posted. The Atlantic, GigaOm, Politico and Buzzfeed questioned whether the IDF was violating Twitter's terms of use. YouTube at one point removed Israel's Hamas assassination video, but then restored it. Another video getting a lot of attention shows Israel's Iron Dome defense system repelling rockets. The IDF is also on Pinterest. Hackers affiliated with Anonymous targeted websites belonging to the Israel Defense Forces, the prime minister’s office, Israeli banks, airlines and security companies, the New York Times reported. A Twitter user who says he works for the Israeli Foreign Ministry posted, "If you see or know where a rocket lands. Do not tweet or post the location - it helps Hamas make rockets more accurate. #IsraelUnderFire"

  • Some Israeli soldiers posted on Instagram as they prepared themselves for the war effort. Quartz also looked at Instagram photos from Tel Aviv as it was targeted by rockets. ReadWriteWeb noted that the IDF had also added game elements to its blog. Some supporters of Israel were mocking its opponents with the hashtag #HamasBumperStickers. Earlier, the unfolding social media campaign had also sparked snarky tweets like "This IDF/Hamas twitter spat makes me wonder what Churchill/Hitler trolling would've looked like" and "Until Obama RTs the IDF, how can we be certain he supports Israel?" Mediashift highlighted its 2009 article about how social media was used during the 2008/2009 Gaza conflict, which included the use of the "Qassam counter" Facebook application which posted news of rocket strikes in Israel in Facebook newsfeeds.

  • The Washington Post noted that a young Israeli man's Facebook account of living under the threat of rocket fire, "posted alongside a photo of a stream of recent attack alerts on his iPhone," had received 4,000 likes. A Washington Post story titled "The story behind the photo: Journalist’s 11-month-old son killed in Gaza strikes," has gathered 18,000 likes or shares on Facebook. But an image being circulated by Hamas supporters online has been found to be showing victims of the Syrian conflict.

The no good, awful, horrible, very bad election

  • Pew released a new study on how voters viewed the 2012 campaign, finding that many found it negative and were pessimistic about the prospect of bipartisan cooperation. From the study:

    The survey finds that internet has again grown as a source of campaign news. Nearly half (47%) of voters say the internet was a main source of campaign news over the course of the election, up from 36% four years ago. The internet now far surpasses newspapers (27%) as a main source of campaign news, though it still trails television (67%).In this vein, virtually all voters (92%) who followed the returns on election night tracked them on television, and 34% followed the returns on the internet. Slightly more than a quarter of voters (27%) were “dual screeners,” using both television and the internet to get information. Among voters younger than 40, 39% of those who followed returns on election night kept track both by watching TV and following online. Election night is also a social experience for some voters: 16% of those who followed election returns did so with friends, while 8% used social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to track the results. Obama supporters were more likely to watch returns with friends, and to use social networks to follow results, than were voters who supported Romney.

Covering spy affair, media never say die

Around the web

  • Mother Jones went inside the Obama campaign's technology operations. Among other points, the articles notes how at the end of June "the campaign blasted out a fundraising email bearing the president's name and an ominous subject line: "I will be outspent." The brief, 261-word pitch brought in $2.4 million in a little more than a day—more than double what the campaign had ever raised in a single email push. They never looked back." Time Magazine's Michael Scherer also took a deep look at the Obama campaign's digital fundraising effort, finding that it outperformed the 2008 effort.

  • In a Buzzfeed column, John Herrman suggests that the "government-tech-complex" is a myth. Instead, he says, government will co-opt tools that already exist, like GMail, social media and the BlackBerry, whenever possible.

    TechPresident calls malarkey. The government move to existing platforms and applications from what Herrman readily admits is "a collection of largely unknown companies that exist solely to win poorly supervised government contracts, and which operate at the edge of the law and largely out of view," is a recent phenomenon. Only in the latter part of Obama's first term did the General Services Administration okay the use of Google Apps for government. Federal employees are just now beginning to enjoy "bring your own device" policies. A White House initiative announced earlier this year was created precisely to open up federal procurement so that the kind of smaller startups that produce innovative and useful technology solutions can compete with the Lockheeds and Halliburtons of the world for federal contracts. Herrman isn't wrong, exactly — it's just that his piece omits the long and tortured history that brought the federal government to the point where employees could use up-to-date private-sector technology rather than some out-of-date monstrosity that meets curious government rules.

  • Nick Judd reported on the newest Occupy effort, Rolling Jubilee, aimed at raising money to erase debt.

  • Hurricane Sandy volunteers developed a text-message focused tool to coordinate relief efforts in areas with little Internet or cell phone access.

  • ABC News obtained the audio from the conference call in which Mitt Romney told told high level donors that Barack Obama's "gifts" to minorities, young people and women were decisive in the election outcome.

  • Matt Kibbe from Freedomworks says that the Tea Party was not an Election Day loser.

  • Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen spoke to the News Observer about how it uses voter lists to figure out who to poll rather than placing random calls.

  • Parting words: “The internet will provide the alternative to the government media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda.This is why it’s essential that the Internet remains free of government regulation.” — Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), in his farewell speech.

  • In a TechCrunch contribution titled "Making Government Suck Less," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) notes his launch of the OpenGov Foundation at PDF and outlines how technology can help government.

  • Quartz profiled a one-man crusade by Bruce Schneier against hysteria over cyberwar.

  • Upworthy has been promoting a Fight for The Future video that is critical of the ITU with the title "How An Organization From 1865 Is Trying To Get Its Hands On Your Internet."

  • The White House deleted a We The People petition to "punch Grover Norquist in the d***." There is also a We the People petition asking to "Peacefully grant the neighborhood of East Williamsburg to secede from Williamsburg and create a new, hipper neighborhood," though it only has five signatures.

  • The Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management and the University Transportation Research Center are hosting an event on Nov. 27 on social media and Hurricane Sandy, featuring representatives from the MTA, the New York City Department of Transportation, the Second Avenue Sagas blog and the New York Times.

  • Verizon and AT&T say their cell networks are now almost restored after the hurricane.

  • Ars Technica profiled how a New York City data center survived the hurricane.

  • A group of around 30 technology industry leaders have endorsed a plan to change New York state's campaign finance laws.

  • The Massachusetts MBTA is set to expand its mobile-ticketing offering on commuter rails.

  • The Salt Lake City Police Department is equipping officers with body cameras that can be mounted on sunglasses and document officers' actions on patrols, while investigating crime scenes and serving search warrants.

  • Global Integrity, an innovation lab focused on research and technology to advance transparency and accountability in governments, has received a renewed financial commitment of up to $2.0 million from the Omidyar Network.

  • Nobel Laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel salute Bradley Manning in the Nation.

  • After Pakistan blocked YouTube access following the anti-Islam video, authorities are now exploring filtering options as they face public pressure to restore access.

  • Google has been ordered to pay $208,000 to an Australian man after jury had found it liable of publishing material linking him to mobsters. Google said it was only disseminating material published by others.

  • The person behind an anonymous Twitter account has been helping to lead major protests in Kuwait.

  • The German Federal Court of Justice ruled that parents were not liable for their 13-year old son's illegal file sharing because they had done enough to deter him by warning him that it was against the law. The court found that having to install surveillance software would be too excessive.

  • Google won't be prosecuted in Germany for the scanning of Wi-Fi networks associated with its Street View service.

  • Ars Technica profiled Max Schrems, the Austrian law student who has led a high-profile campaign against Facebook's use of personal data.