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The Internet is Not a Horseless Carriage: Talking Tech, Activism & Capacity Building With Zeynep Tufekci

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, June 6 2014

Zeynep Tufekci speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2014 (photo: PDM)

Yesterday at Personal Democracy Forum, Zeynep Tufekci spoke in a session on “The Internet's Double-Edged Sword,” which covered the promise and potential of the Internet for both activists and regular citizens, and for authoritarian governments. Only Tufekci doesn't think that is the conversation we should be having—whether the Internet is good or bad, or better for citizens than government, or vice versa. When I asked whether she approaches a new social media movement with initial optimism or pessimism, she said neither.

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After Twitter Ban, Turkish Users Post Record Number of Tweets

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, March 21 2014

After Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blocked Twitter Thursday night, Turkish tweets spiked an impressive 138 percent. As of Friday morning, nearly 2.5 million tweets had been sent from Turkey. That's roughly 17,000 tweets per minute, a new record for Turkey.

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Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

WeGov

How Ukraine's EuroMaidan Revolution Played Out Online

BY Carola Frediani | Friday, February 28 2014

Protestors in Kiev on Dec. 22, 2013. (credit: grocap/flickr)

After three months of demonstrations and fighting on the streets, ending with the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, there are few doubts that the Internet and social media played major roles in the revolution. While the Ukrainian press coverage was often limited, technology and online platforms not only materially sustained the protesters, but also helped them to reach an international audience. Read More

Review: Jehane's Noujaim's Egypt Documentary "The Square"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 17 2014

Congregating in Tahrir Square in 2011 (Jonathan Rashad/Wikipedia)

In “The Square,” director Jehane Noujaim draws out the human element—passion, conflict, conviction, confusion, indecision, doubt—in the ongoing Egyptian Revolution, which is so often described by a sterile counting of protesters or casualties. Noujaim's camera brings the viewer into an inner circle of young revolutionaries, and through them we experience a roller coaster of anticipation and dashed hopes, of trust and subsequent betrayal.
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Social Media is Driving Massive Anti-Government Protests in Bulgaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 24 2013

June's peaceful protests in Bulgaria (Flickr/Bmw Spirit)

After 40 days of peaceful anti-corruption protests, violence erupted late Tuesday night outside the Bulgarian parliament after demonstrators built blockades and trapped more than 100 people inside the building. Riot police forced their way past the protesters and the blockade on Wednesday to free the politicians and journalists who had been trapped inside the parliament building for more than eight hours. Some Bulgarian journalists credit the Internet and social media for inspiring and spreading the #DANSwithme protests, as they are known on Twitter.

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The Rise and Fall of Brazil's Twitter Revolution

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 8 2013

Tweets per hour peaked on June 17 at 8 p.m. (Flickr/andresmh)

The protests in Brazil might seem to have come out of nowhere, but the Movimento Passe Libre (Free Pass Movement) has existed for more than eight years. They organized the first few demonstrations, starting at the end of May. It wasn't until June 17, however, when the Twitterverse lit up with tweets about the protests, that people outside the country really began to notice. Less than a week later, however, Twitter usage had died down to pre-protest levels.

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Measuring Net Freedom and “Outrage” to Predict Next Arab Spring

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 17 2013

Screengrab from Freedom House map of Freedom on the Net 2012

While many have extolled the use of the Internet and social media in particular as a positive, democratic, organizing force in recent revolutions and turned to the web as both a tool for revolution and for predicting revolution, others say repressive regimes can effectively squash online activism. The ICT (Information and Communications Technology) for Development blog tried to predict where the next major revolution might take place by using indexes that measure Internet freedoms, autocracy and repression, and ICT development. They pitted constraint against outrage using the Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net score, The Economist Democracy Index, and the ITU’s ICT Development Index, and came up with two versions of The Revolution 2.0 Index.

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Controversy Over Egyptian Comedian Facing Gov't Prosecution Morphs into a Twitter War

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, April 2 2013

Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef (credit: Hossam El Hamalawy / Flickr)

When the Egyptian prosecutor's office summoned a famous comedian and political satirist for questioning, accusing him of insulting the president and Islam, a war of words ensued on Twitter. On one side was the U.S. State Department, in the form of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, squaring off against the Egyptian president's office and Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood's official media wing, which has an active Twitter account. On the sidelines ordinary 'netizens queued up to cheer and jeer. Read More

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Social Media Has Been a Mixed Blessing for the Arab Spring

BY Lisa Goldman | Friday, February 15 2013

Cairo graffiti (image: Hossam El-Hamalawy/Flickr)

Two years ago, social media was the star of the Arab Spring. Today it is still important, but there is ample evidence to support the theory that it is also harmful. Read More