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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 16 2014

2006 story in the Toronto Star (Hossein Derakhshan)

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.

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WeGov

Analyzing Social Network Metadata to Uncover Censorship

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Screenshot of email metadata (MIT Immersion)

If you've entered your email into the MIT Media Lab Immersion platform, you might have some idea of the information that can be gleaned from metadata. The same is true of social networks like Twitter and Facebook. One researcher has found that analysis of social network metadata can reveal wide scale censorship with 85 percent accuracy, without needing to track sensitive keywords.

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WeGov

Building an Automatic "Lie Detector" for Twitter

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 20 2014

American inventor Leonarde Keeler testing his lie-detector (Wikipedia/public domain)

An international group of researchers led by the University of Sheffield is building a social media “lie detector” called Pheme, after the mythological rumormonger, that can determine in real time whether a information spread on social media is true or false.

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WeGov

Study Says Social Movements "Should Never Be Called a Twitter or Facebook Revolution"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 22 2013

A report on Digital Activism and Non-Violent Conflict was released this month by the Digital Activism Research Project. It found that the role of hacking and cybercrime in digital activism is grossly overstated by the media and that Facebook and Twitter are the leading platforms for activism on a global scale, but that other tools do well on a smaller, regional scale. The study found no causation or correlation between specific tools and positive outcomes.

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Personal Democracy Media Seeks Research Intern; Know Anyone?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, November 19 2013

We are looking for a super-sharp research assistant, interested in exploring questions of 21st century democracy, civic innovation, tech policy, political change, and organizational design. Read More

Rich Or Poor, You've Probably Friended Someone Recently

BY Nick Judd | Friday, August 26 2011

Half of all Americans and 65 percent of Internet users use social networks, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that also reveals use of the social tools crosses lines of race and ... Read More

A Full Third of American Adults Own Smartphones, Pew Study Finds

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 15 2011

Photo: Cheon Fong Liew / Flickr Here are three reasons why mobile phones could be a crucial battlefield for the 2012 election, courtesy of a Pew Internet & American Life Project study released this morning: ... Read More

The United States of Twitter, 2011

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 1 2011

New from Pew on the rate of Twitter adoption in the U.S.: 13% of online adults use the status update service Twitter, which represents a significant increase from the 8% of online adults who identified themselves as ... Read More

A Bucketful of Transparency Papers

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, May 18 2011

Just a heads up on a potentially valuable resource: Rutgers Newark's School of Public Affairs and Administration has posted a slew of academic research papers on transparency in conjunction with its 1st Global Conference ... Read More

New Paper: To What Do We Owe Judicial Ludditism?

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, April 19 2011

Evgeny Morozov points us to a juicy new Cornell Law School working paper that one looks forward to reading on why courts have lagged behind the public sector and other government branches in embracing technology: Judged ... Read More

News Briefs

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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