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First POST: Hashtags

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, November 29 2012

Morning must-reads

  • The White House was encouraging citizens to use the hashtag #My2k to "speak out to keep taxes from
    going up on the middle class." The Heritage Foundation quickly responded by purchasing a promoted tweet against that hashtag. Ad Age reported, "the #my2k hashtag had about 41,000 mentions as of this afternoon, according to Twitter. Whether they're helping the president's cause is up for debate, since a quick perusal of tweets with the hashtag show a significant portion attacking him." Mother Jones highlighted the 10 best and worst tweets from the campaign.

  • Nate Silver writes that Republicans, face-to-face with the facts of a ho-hum technology infrastructure on their side compared with what turned out to be a world-class operation supporting the Democrats, are statistically unlikely to be able to staff up with enough top-level technologists to compete. Based on campaign finance contributions from top technology companies and Barack Obama's margin of victory in Silicon Valley, Silver writes, it appears that elite engineers with a conservative bent may just be too hard to find.

    Let's take a trip down memory lane: The Republican Party has had its chance with A-list engineering talent. The national committee once had Cyrus Krohn, lured from Microsoft, at its digital helm. Krohn left the RNC and went back to Microsoft. Then they had Todd Herman, another Seattle-area tech sector alumni, as new media director. Herman left the RNC and most recently co-founded a company with Krohn and some other RNC alums, CrowdVerb, that was acquired by WPP — the same corporate parent of Democratic technology epicenter Blue State Digital. So it isn't as if the party hasn't had the opportunity to make the most of people who are familiar with what technology infrastructure should look like.

    The question now is, who will the Republicans tap next, and will they afford their next digital director any greater leeway to get things done?

  • Summarizing the results of a survey of Obama for America campaign volunteers, Jeremy Bird wrote in an e-mail that "Almost half of all survey respondents forwarded campaign emails, and more than one-third communicated with friends on Facebook -- both great ways to pass along information about the President's positions and plans, as well as opportunities to get involved."

    Dashboard watch! Bird also noted that "a majority" of survey respondents volunteered into a field office, though "many ... got involved instead through the campaign's online tools such as Dashboard and the call tool."

  • Kyle Rush, who worked as deputy director of frontend web development at Obama for America, profiled the campaign's $250 million fundraising platform.

  • WeGov headliner: Pakistan is considering a bill to require government approval for all digital mapping projects.

Around the web:

Digital policy advocacy comes to Germany

  • Several German lawmakers have reacted negatively to what they see as propaganda from Google in opposition to a law that would require search engines to pay a license fee for snippets of news appearing in search results. The New York Times has more:

    The unusually public salvos from Google caught many German lawmakers by surprise. Chancellor Angela Merkel raised the issue at a working dinner Tuesday with a group of lawmakers from her party, the Christian Democratic Union, including Peter Beyer, a member of the Bundestag from Ratingen, a town near Düsseldorf. “She asked us how many e-mails we’d received and we told her,” he said Wednesday during an interview, adding that he had received fewer than 10 from Google supporters. “Most of us had only received a few, three or four. She and the rest of the C.D.U. are still behind this law." ... Germany’s main technology industry association, the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, known as BitKom, has come out sharply against the proposal, saying it will curb investment in the German digital economy ... A letter to Bundestag members signed jointly by 16 copyright law professors, the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property and Competition Law, and Grur, an association representing 5,300 German copyright lawyers, warned that the law could cost Germany jobs ... By midday Wednesday, one day into the campaign, Google said that 25,000 people had signed its petition and that it expected a half-million people to have viewed its Web site ... [Christoph Keese, the senior vice president of Axel Springer, publisher of Bild and Die Welt], predicted that Google’s public relations offensive might cause a backlash among German lawmakers, who are unaccustomed to targeted, issue-oriented Internet lobbying.


  • Pew released a new study on Arab-American media, including its digital presence and the role of social media in reporting on the Arab Spring.

  • Salon reported on the controversy over high school student ID cards in Texas that contain RFID chips.

  • A Cairo court sentenced seven expatriate Coptic Egyptians to death in absentia for their alleged role in the production of the controversial anti-Islamic video "Innocence of Muslims."

  • The 20 winners of the first African News Innovation Challenge were announced with winning projects focused on citizen journalism, investigative reporting and source protection.

  • The name of the Israeli party led by Kadima Tzipi Livni is simply The Tzipi Livni Party after the use of the term The Movement in news articles "resulted in unbecoming, scatological jokes on Facebook and Twitter about bowel movements," the Jerusalem Post reported.

  • The death of an Iranian blogger in prison has prompted a blame game within Iran, according to the L.A. Times.

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