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WeGov

7 Things You Didn't Know About Vietnam's Net

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 4 2014

Screenshot of Vietmeme's Twitter profile

Vietnam has an active Internet culture of civic engagement, but it can be hard to see because it is relatively ephemeral and dispersed over multiple networks. A one stop shop for a snapshot of Vietnam's online community is Vietmeme, a kind of front page for the Vietnamese Internet.

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WeGov

After "Recognizing" Kosovo, Facebook Denies Political Agency

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 26 2013

Until 2008 Kosovo didn't have its own flag. Now it also has Facebook status. (matt.lutton/flickr)

After Facebook finally listed Kosovo as its own country, rather than lumping it together with Serbia, from which it declared independence more than five years ago, the Kosovo Minister of European Integration, Vlora Citaku, tweeted that Facebook “recognizes” Kosovo as a state, and tagged her comment #digitaldiplomacy. When Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reached out to Facebook for comment, however, the company was quick to distance itself from any political agency that it might be ascribed.

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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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WeGov

Saudi Arabia Blocks Online Petition to Lift Ban on Women Drivers

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 10 2013

An alternative headline

The drive to get Saudi women behind the wheel has been long and arduous. Women have been protesting the ban on women drivers since the early '90s. An online petition created in September has thrust the issue into the spotlight once more, with everyone from the religious police to pseudo-scientists weighing in. In what seems like promising news, three women, members of the council that advises King Abdullah, recommended earlier this week that the ban on women driving be lifted. But the country-wide blocking of the online petition suggests authorities are not yet ready to listen, in spite of their claims otherwise.

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WeGov

Chinese Netizens Get Revenge On Official Who Arrested 16-Year-Old Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

This picture of Yang flashing the victory sign is being retweeted by a number of netizens on Weibo (screenshot/Weibo)

The Chinese authorities like to push their boundaries when it comes to policing the Internet. We know they tell media outlets what they can and cannot write, set up an online platform where they could debunk rumors and deny official wrongdoing, and operate possibly the most sophisticated online surveillance and censorship apparatus in the world. Recently the government began a crackdown on online rumormongering that has resulted in hundreds of arrests. It was the arrest of of 16-year-old boy in the Gansu Province that was one step too far for Chinese netizens. The online outrage and activism that followed the arrest eventually led to the boy's release, and to the subsequent suspension of the police chief who oversaw the boy's detention.

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WeGov

Senegal's “Soft Revolution” Makes Change in Digital Space

BY Antonella Napolitano | Tuesday, June 25 2013

Senegal Electoral Map

Senegalese activist and blogger Cheikh Fall explains how Sunu2012, a participatory platform that he developed to monitor the electoral process during Sengal's presidential election in 2012, reveals a growing “soft revolution” among young activists in Senegal. Read More

WeGov

In Saudi Arabia, an Online Campaign Raises Awareness of Violence Against Women

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 30 2013

Screenshot of photos from the Libra Facebook page

Only a few weeks after Saudi Arabia launched its first major campaign against domestic violence, another campaign has picked up momentum on social media. Sponsored by Libra Productions, the campaign slogan is “Hit her (I dare you).”

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WeGov

To Protest Judge's Sentence, Iranians Launch Viral Feminist Campaign on Facebook

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 26 2013

A collage of photos from the Kurdish Men For Equality Facebook page

On April 15, police paraded a convicted criminal dressed in traditional Kurdish women’s clothing through the streets of Marivan, Iran, in accordance with a judge’s sentence. A local feminist organization, the Marivan Women’s Community, found the sentence humiliating to Kurdish women, and organized a protest. The protest moved online to a Facebook page with the tagline: “Being a woman is not humiliating and should not be considered punishment.” Overnight, the page garnered 3,800 fans. One week later, it now has more than 10,000 fans. The protest has prompted 17 members of Iran’s parliament to sign a letter to the Justice Ministry calling the punishment “humiliating to Muslim women.”

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WeGov

With Bloggers in Mind, Bangladeshi Islamist Group Demands Law Against Blasphemy

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, April 19 2013

The links to suspended Bangladesh blogs.

A radical pro-Islam group has demanded the Bangladesh government introduce a new blasphemy law in order to suppress a growing number of “atheist bloggers.” However, four bloggers have already been arrested for posting “anti-religious” statements on their blogs. Among the arrested is the award-winning blogger Asif Mohiuddin. His blog and the three others were taken down by the hosting platform, Somewhereinblog.net, after operators received takedown requests from the Bangladesh government.

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WeGov

In Cameroon, a Crowdsourced Site for Local Listings

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, April 2 2013

Wasamundi.com (Screenshot).

As tech innovation continues to heat up in Africa from Ethiopia to Zambia, homegrown social enterprise has African developers and entrepreneurs delivering solutions to their communities. In the case of a crowdsourced online listing service form Cameroon, innovation is being driven by collaboration with everyday citizens.

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News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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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.

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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.

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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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