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Can Tech-Savvy Activists Change Mexico's Presidential Elections?

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, June 28 2012

Student-led protests in Mexico organized around the #yosoy132 hashtag. Photo: MaloMalverde

Are Sunday's presidential elections a fulcrum for the scales of power in Mexico? Is it fair to say Internet-powered student protesters are on one side of that balance beam? And if so, which way is it swinging? I asked Diego Beas, a columnist for Reforma and a keen observer of technology's role in politics throughout the Americas, and Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Both have been following Mexico's presidential elections closely, and both have the tech background necessary to understand and explain the role of networked politics in this election, but the two have very different perspectives on whether the student protesters are getting anywhere. Click through for a video of our conversation. Read More

[OP-ED]: With Facebook's "Reporting Guide," A Step in the Right Direction

BY Jillian C. York | Wednesday, June 27 2012

Facebook recently released this graphic explaining how it handles material reported to be a violation of policy.

Writing about Facebook's recent disclosure of its reporting guidelines, Jillian York writes: "Facebook should be commended for lending transparency to a process that has long come under criticism for its seeming arbitrariness. Such transparency is imperative to help users understand when their behavior is genuinely in violation of the site’s policies; for example, several activists have reported receiving warnings after adding too many new “friends” too quickly, a result of a sensitive spam-recognition algorithm. Awareness of that fact could help users modify their behavior so as to avoid account suspension." Read More

[OP-ED] Big Data: What Happens When Elections Become Social Engineering Competitions

BY David Parry | Tuesday, June 26 2012

Courtesy Estate of John Fekner 2008

UT-Dallas assistant professor David Parry argues that big data and message targeting endangers democracy. Read More

More On Egypt's 'Nullified Ballots' Campaign

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, June 25 2012

An Egyptian voter nullified his ballot by sketching Batman in the square next to each candidate's photo (Photo: @wessam_s)

Tens of thousands celebrated at Tahrir Square on Sunday afternoon, as the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi was declared the victor in Egypt's presidential elections. Morsi made history by becoming Egypt's first elected civilian president - and the first Islamist elected head of an Arab state. For other revolutionary activists, however, neither candidate was acceptable. To express their dissent, they organized a Mubtellon ('nullify') Campaign . Participants nullified their ballots with slogans and doodling images on their ballots, photographed them and published the photos on Twitter and Facebook. According to official estimates, more than 800,000 ballots were nullified in this manner. Read More

Can Celebrities On Twitter Use Their Fame for Good?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 22 2012

Actor Josh Charles has often tweeted about his support for high-speed rail and gay marriage rights. Actress Eva Longoria recently tweeted her support for President Obama's new illegal immigration policy. In the future, could such celebrity endorsements all become much more coordinated, mirroring the Kony 2012 effect? That's what singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson is betting on. Yesterday he announced a new initiative to harness Twitter as a tool for celebrities to raise awareness and help promote good causes. One close observer of online activism says this kind of online buzz is nothing but a "silly idea." Read More

[OP-ED]: Change.org and the Dilemmas of Success [UPDATED]

BY David Karpf | Tuesday, June 19 2012

Op-ed contributor David Karpf writes: "Online petition juggernaut Change.org has become the target of an online petition effort.

Whoa.

Meta.

This weekend, a schoolteacher from Chicago launched a petition at SignOn.org* urging CEO Ben Rattray to “Stop Supporting Union-Busters.” So far it has over 3,700 signatures, but attention is rising. That’s because Rattray’s company is at an inflection point: rooted in progressive politics but structured as an open and for-profit platform, it’s now faced with a clarifying choice about its values and mission."

Read More

Cherokee Nation Members Start Online Effort Against Elizabeth Warren

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 1 2012

Self-described members of the Cherokee Nation have begun an online effort critical of Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's controversial claims of Native American heritage, as was first reported by The Republican in Springfield, Massachusetts. Read More

Upgrading Civil Resistance? Gene Sharp's "Methods," Rewritten for 2012

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 8 2012

Ushahidi's director of crisis mapping, Patrick Meier, and Meta-Activism Project founder Mary Joyce are collaborating on a project to update and add to Gene Sharp's 198 "Methods of Nonviolent Action," a manual for civil resistance, with ways these techniques could be adjusted for the 21st century. Together with other contributors, they're managing a spreadsheet in Google Docs with each of 198 methods from the pioneering researcher in protest and activism. For each — and a few new ones added on — they're listing ways the traditional method could be tweaked to take advantage of new technology, and ways that those methods could be completely reinvented. Read More

The Double Life of the Obama Campaign's "Julia" Character

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, May 4 2012

Two critics of "big government" have taken the Obama campaign's latest interactive, a several-frame graphic that seeks to paint President Barack Obama's policies favorably in comparison to Mitt Romney's, and turned it into a microsite with a remarkably similar parody. "It’s funny because Julia becomes a web/graphic designer, and that’s something I’ve been doing since I was 15 or so," Josh Fields, one of the creators, told techPresident in an email. "I think the part of the story for Julia that’s missing is that life is more of a stumble and fall than a race to the top. That’s something I question if Romney or Obama understand, you can’t promise all this stuff and not expect people to be pissed when they don’t get it." Read More

Planned Parenthood's Most Radical Response to Critics: To Listen, and Let Their Supporters Lead

BY Melissa Gira Grant | Thursday, May 3 2012

A pro-Planned Parenthood rally in St. Paul, Minn. in April. Photo: Fibonacci Blue

Taken in aggregate, the Planned Parenthood/Komen debacle earlier this year was not just a victory for Planned Parenthood, the beleaguered standard-bearer for pro-choice politics. Owing in large part to the way social media can influence mainstream debate, as well as the work that grassroots reproductive rights activists have done to re-center the fight for reproductive rights on larger questions of economic and social justice, activists were able to put efforts to curtail access to abortion and birth control on the defensive. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Scotched

Why conservatives should back net neutrality; how big data may damage civil rights; the ways Silicon Valley start-ups are exploiting freelance workers; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Resets

Apple's new iOS8 promises greater user privacy; Occupy Wall Street three years later; how tech may tilt the Scotland independence vote; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Connecting the Dots

Take Back the Tech grades Facebook, Twitter, et al, on transparency; MayDay PAC founder Lawrence Lessig talks about getting matched funds; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Splits

USA Freedom Act divides Internet activists; Julian Assange's Reddit "Ask Me Anything"; New York's pro-net-neutrality protest; and much, much more GO

monday >

After Election Loss, Teachout and Wu Keep Up Net Neutrality and Anti-Comcast Merger Campaign

The Teachout/Wu campaign may have lost, but their pro net-neutrality campaign continued Monday as both former candidates participated in a rallly in New York City marking the final day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission's Internet proposals and kept up their pressure on Governor Andrew Cuomo. GO

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