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WeGov

Trolling the Terrorists, One Official State Department Tweet at a Time

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 22 2014

Screenshot of the @ThinkAgain_DOS Twitter account

The State Department's Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was established in 2011 “to coordinate, orient and inform government-wide foreign communications activities targeted against terrorism.” In practice, turns out that often means 'trolling terrorists on Twitter.' Although this has been going on for years (in Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, and Somali), the practice recently drew increased publicity and scrutiny after the CSCC branched out into the English-language Internet late last year.

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WeGov

#EP2014 and #EU2014 Twitter Conversation Focuses on Parties over Personalities

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 22 2014

Live Election Weekend European Parliament Twitter Dashboard

A Twitter analysis of discussion around this weekend's European elections found that the two top candidates, Social-Democrat Martin Schulz and center-right Jean-Claude Juncker, were not provoking much passion in the ... Read More

WeGov

How Much Influence Did Social Media Have On India's Election?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Selfie + inked finger = "Fingie" (credit: @SirPareshRawal/Twitter)

India's 2014 election is being called a #TwitterElection because it is the largest democratic election in the world to date and so much of it took place online. While there seems to be a number of correlations between the online activities and victories of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which swept up 427 seats in India's Lok Sabha or lower parliament, and of Narendra Modi, India's new prime minister, just how much of their success can be attributed to their social media savviness? Read More

WeGov

What Martial Law in Thailand Means For Freedom of Speech

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Some of the "cute soldiers" on Twitter (Screenshot)

Thailand's military chief declared martial law across the country at 3 a.m. Tuesday, just two weeks after the Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted from her post. Citizens seem to be taking the news in stride, taking pictures of and with the soldiers; there is even a Twitter hashtag that encourages people to post pictures of cute soldiers. However, soldiers have taken over TV and radio stations, and have asked social media sites for assistance censoring inflammatory posts.

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WeGov

Facebook Rolls Out Voter Megaphone Internationally

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 21 2014

(Facebook)

Facebook is rolling out a revamped version of its "I'm a Voter" tool internationally after a successful test run in the recent Indian elections, beginning with the European Parliament elections that run from Thursday to ... Read More

WeGov

Spanish Politicians Call For More Censored Net After Political Assassination

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 19 2014

Isabel Carrasco did not die because of social media. The Spanish politician was murdered by a 55 year old woman who blamed Carrasco for her daughter's dismissal from the León provincial council in 2011, a snub that was dragged out for years in court over a payment dispute that was eventually decided in the council's favor just days before the murder took place. It is clearly a straightforward, if deranged and poorly planned, revenge killing. Why it has led Spanish politicians to call for the policing of social media is more of a mystery.

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WeGov

When Cute Cats Aren't Enough to Save Vimeo (or Reddit, Imgur, & 100+ Other Sites Blocked in Indonesia)

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 14 2014

In his 2008 talk on the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, Ethan Zuckerman said “if you're not getting porn in your system, it doesn't work.” The idea is that popular platforms flush with cute cats and other innocuous, user-generated content are robust enough to support more controversial content, like pornography and social and political activism. Governments around the world, however, are throwing cute cats to the wind in their quest to rid the Internet of pornography (as impossible as that must seem to people who use the Internet). The most recent victims of the porn crackdown: Vimeo, Reddit and Imgur, which are now all blocked in Indonesia.

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WeGov

British Police Officers Ask Blogger to Delete Politically Critical Tweet

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, May 13 2014

This weekend two Cambridgeshire police officers called upon the blogger Michael Abberton at his home residence. After asking to come in for a chat they asked Abberton to delete a certain tweet, even though they clearly said no laws had been broken. According to Abberton, who wrote about the exchange on his blog Axe of Reason, the complaint had come from the political party mentioned in the offending (although not in any way illegal) tweet. The exchange has raised questions about censorship, police intimidation, and the influence of this political party.

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WeGov

Pakistan's National Assembly Unanimously Agrees YouTube Ban Should Be Lifted

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 9 2014

Screenshot from the Hugs for YouTube! video

Pakistanis who want unfettered access to YouTube caught a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel this week when a resolution to lift the ban passed unanimously in the National Assembly. At the end of April Pakistan's Senate Human Rights Committee also unanimously passed a resolution to lift the ban.

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#BringBackOurGirls: How a Hashtag Took Hold

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, May 7 2014

Comparison of #bringbackourgirls, #chibokgirls and #bringbackourdaughters hashtags (Topsy/Screengrab)

When it comes to online activist movements, such as the now infamous KONY 2012 effort, the question under discussion often ends up being to what degree online action can motivate offline action. But a close look at a new online call that has taken hold over the past weeks, #BringBackOurGirls, shows that the power of a hashtag can be in the much more complex interplay between online and offline actions that reinforce and intensify each other. Read More