Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Of Rockets and Tweets

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, November 19 2012

Neither Barack Obama nor McKayla Maroney is impressed. Photo: Pete Souza / The White House

Of rockets and tweets

  • An Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson defended the IDF's use of social media to Buzzfeed:

    Leibovich rejects criticism that the messages have been cavalier in their discussion of violence — when asked if she thought the use of the "language of war" on a platform most people use for entertainment and light news was appropriate, she defied me to give her an example. Asked directly about the "faces above ground" post from Wednesday, Leibovich balked. "You call this violent language?"

    But some commentators were skeptical. Michael Koplow wrote for Foreign Policy:

    In posting a video of Jabari's car exploding in a fireball or issuing blustery warnings to Hamas to stay hidden, the IDF is trying to galvanize its supporters and mobilize the pro-Israel community into retweeting and posting messages on Facebook that bolster Israel's case and create the impression that Israel will be able to rout Hamas and eliminate the rocket fire coming from Gaza. This is an effective way to rally those who are already with you, but it is unlikely to win any new supporters.

    Max Fisher was also skeptical, writing that "like a spree of attack ads in a political campaign, the effect has been polarizing — deepening divides that were already problematic for Israel."

    Marc Tracy from the New Republic defended the IDF's social media policy, writing that this "more immediate form of the same old sort of propaganda encourages observers to judge Israel on the wisdom, or lack thereof, of its actual actions. Who doesn’t want that?"

    In addition to the IDF distributing leaflets to civilians in Gaza, some residents of the area also reported receiving text messages from the IDF. Islamic Jihad said it had sent text messages to 5,000 cell phones belonging to IDF soldiers with the message "We will turn Gaza into your cemetery – the al-Quds Brigades."

  • The Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. blamed a staffer for inappropriately posting a tweet to his account, soon deleted, which stated that Israel would be willing to sit down with Hamas if it stopped firing rockets, which he said incorrectly paraphrased a comment he had made on CNN about being willing to negotiate with Israel's Palestinian neighbors. Earlier, the Twitter account for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had deleted a tweet thanking President Obama for his support. An Israeli government spokesperson told Buzzfeed that they "wouldn't give it any significance."

  • An Israeli government spokesperson said that Israel had repelled around 44 million cyberattacks since the start of the Pillar of Defense operation, JTA reported.

From techPresident

Notes on the new campaign

  • Ad Age noted that many politicians used online advertising strategies that their own policies seek to limit through Do Not Track measures.

  • In a New York Times contribution titled "Beware the Smart Campaign," Zeynep Tufekci worries about the possibility of voters being overly manipulated by targeted messages. "What is to be done? Campaigns should make public every outreach message so we at least know what they are saying. These messages can be placed in a public database like campaign contributions so the other side can be aware of, and have the right to respond to, false claims. Political access to proprietary databases should be regulated to provide an even playing field."

  • Ars Technica reported that most of the Romney campaign's technology was managed by a small group of companies: Mindshift Technologies; a subsidiary of Best Buy; ThriveNetworks, a subsidiary of Staples; and small consulting firms with links to Romney and the Republican Party.

  • Buzzfeed spotted a Romney campaign Facebook ad encouraging voting that was still running post-election.

Around the web

  • On Friday the Republican Study Committee of the Committee of the House Republicans had published a report on copyright refrom that was praised by many online advocates. But it was withdrawn late Saturday afternoon, which Techdirt attributed to pressure from content industry lobbying associations. Public Knowledge offered its analysis of the report. The author of the report was Derek Khanna, who had also briefly participated in conversation about it on Reddit.

  • A new Tumblr started by CSPAN producer William Gray highlights charts shown on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Gray also has a Tumblr called "Overheard on the Span."

  • There is also a Tumblr curating transit maps of the world.

  • Mother Jones tried to explain whether Obama "is about to take over the Internet" with an expected executive order on cybersecurity.

  • Lockheed Martin warned that it has seen the number and sophistication of international cyber-attacks increase dramatically in the past several months, with 20 percent of threats considered "advanced and persistent," the BBC reported.

  • A former Google attorney will be the new director of a satellite office of the US Patent and Trademark Office in Silicon Valley.

  • Twitter has hired a former Google lawyer as director of its legal department.

  • Michael Geist writes that the math doesn't add up in an industry analysis of whether peer-to-peer users purchase more music.

  • Pro Publica reported that several opinion columns praising Russia that were posted on CNBC's website and the Huffington Post were placed on behalf of the Russian government's public relations firm.

  • Facebook has outlined the four factors it uses to sort the newsfeed and insists that average page reach hasn't decreased, Techcrunch reported.

  • ICYMI: The UPS Foundation announced it would end its grants to the Boy Scouts after an online petition linking its contributions to the Boy Scout's policy against gays received more than 80,000 signatures.

  • The New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which controls the city's subways, buses, and commuter rail lines, is experimenting with holding fare hike hearings via video conference. The MTA will also hold conventional in-person hearings this year.

  • The Chief Patent Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Managing IP Attorney at IBM recently wrote for Wired that the "patent system is not broken."


  • European MP Marietje Schaake is asking for feedback on a draft resolution for the Liberal Parliamentary Group ahead of a European Parliamentary debate on the World Conference on International Telecommunications to be held in Dubai. Among other points, the draft proposal states that "reform proposals being presented by the member nations of the ITU would negatively impact the internet, its architecture, operations, content, security, business relations, internet governance and the free flow of information online" and "that as a consequence of some of the proposals presented, the ITU itself could become the ruling power of the Internet which could end the present bottom-up multi-stakeholder model." There is also a petition with a similar message.

  • In the run-up to the German parliamentary elections in 2013, the German Green Party unveiled an online tool called betatext to allow supporters and party members to comment on position papers and legislative proposals. "While others only talk about more participation and transparency in the political process -- we implement it," the party boasts.

  • Google is investing $1.3 million for a hub in Berlin where startups will be able to work and meet investors.

  • The U.S. military is behind news websites targeted at the Horn of Africa and northwest Africa in an effort to counter propaganda from militants in Somalia and the Maghreb.

  • A crowdfunding website that follows the rules of Islamic finance has launched.

  • A Philippine court has banned TV coverage of a trial on the country's worst political massacre, which led to the deaths of 58 people.

  • The AP reported on how delegates to the Chinese Party Congress adopted social media, to a point, and how some Chinese Internet users responded.

  • Two British media lawyers explain the role that Twitter played in identifying a politician falsely accused of sexual abuse by a BBC program, leading to internal controversy in the BBC's news division, and how the politician in question might be able to sue Twitter users for libel.

  • A new website from the British Royal Family seeks to dispel rumors about Prince Charles, such as that he has seven eggs cooked for his breakfast.

  • A British Royal Navy submariner admitted that he had collected classified coding programs that would be beneficial to British enemies.

  • A British High Court ruled that a Christian man was unfairly demoted from his management position for writing on Facebook that gay weddings in churches "were an equality too far."

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.


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.