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EFF's Jillian York on 'Syria's Electronic Army'

BY Nick Judd | Monday, August 15 2011

Writing in Al-Jazeera's opinion section, Electronic Frontier Foundation Director for International Freedom of Expression Jillian York takes a view on the online battle between Syrian activists and an army of online foot soldiers for Bashar Al-Assad's regime:

In the midst of a virtual blackout on the city of Hama, citizen videos - often shaky and unverifiable - document the brutality of the Syrian military's crackdown on the city, ongoing since July 31 - the day before the start of Ramadan - while online campaigns, hosted on Facebook and Twitter, aim to draw attention to events on the ground. The narrative: Syrians are suffering and want the world to take notice.

At the same time, and often on the same networks, a different story can be seen, as Syrians in favour of the Assad regime stake out online ground in attempt to shift the narrative in their favour. And though there are individuals who post supportive sentiments about Assad, the overwhelming majority of pro-regime content online appears well-coordinated; the work of organised groups coming together to support the beleaguered president.