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WeGov

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

WeGov

Kenya's First-Ever Presidential Debate Became a Significant Social Media Event

BY Sara Jerving | Wednesday, February 13 2013

Screenshot of debate organizers' Facebook page

Kenya held its first presidential debate in the country's history this Monday. Millions tuned in as candidates answered questions posed by moderators. In an interesting twist, the organizers selected both the moderators and the questions from suggestions submitted by ordinary citizens via social media platforms, SMS and email. Read More

[BackChannel] 2013: The Year of the Jilted Tweep?

BY Edward Erikson and Matthew MacWilliams | Friday, February 8 2013

In this post for Backchannel, our ongoing conversation between practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics, media and communications professor Edward Erikson and communications consultant Matthew MacWilliams argue that members of Congress who tune out Twitter after Election Day are taking their social-media lives into their own hands. Read More

Hagel's Confirmation an Opportunity for the New Attack Ad: Promoted Tweets

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, January 31 2013

A curious promoted tweet released today invokes the Human Rights Campaign as it blasts Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel for his past positions on homosexuality — although the Human Rights Campaign didn't sponsor the tweet and Hagel is now seeking to present his positions as exactly opposite the ones the ad accuses him of taking. Read More

Google and Twitter "Transparency Reports" a Window On Surveillance, and Maybe a Call for Reform

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 30 2013

The ever-expanding focus of "transparency reports" released by Google and Twitter are among the best tools available to advocates for reforming electronic privacy laws, Electronic Frontier Foundation activist Trevor Timm said Tuesday. Read More

Slate Partners With Anonymous Tweeter @GunDeaths To Map Ongoing Reports of Gun Incidents

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Friday, December 21 2012

There's a ton of statistics out there on gun-related violence in the United States, but as two of Slate's editors pointed out this morning, there's not much out there that tracks statistics in real time. So the duo, Chris Kirk, Slate's interactives editor, and Dan Krois, a senior editor there, decided to try and change that by partnering with the anonymous Tweeter at @gundeaths to map every reported death that @gundeaths finds through news alerts and tips. @gundeaths began the Twitter reporting this July. Read More

Online, Shaping a Narrow Debate After Newtown Shooting

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, December 18 2012

When President Barack Obama spoke Sunday at Newtown High School in Newtown, Conn, he promised to take action to fix what's broken in an American society that could not protect 20 young children and seven adults from death at the hands of a single disturbed person, and could not protect that killer from himself.

"We can't tolerate this anymore," he said. "These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society."

But he was really just setting the table for a narrower conversation about gun control.

Most people, or anyway, most people on Twitter, seem to have got that point.

Read More

WeGov

In Egypt, the Government Issues Official Announcements on Facebook

BY Lisa Goldman | Monday, December 17 2012

Cairo protester's sign says "no to the constitution" (credit: Hossam El Hamalawy)

Last week the Egyptian government announced draconian tax increases and subsidy reductions that caused a huge wave of protest. Within hours, the president revoked the announcement — in the middle of the night, on Facebook. Read More

WeGov

Despite Some Glitches, Ghana's New Biometric Voting System Widely Viewed as a Success

BY Gabriela Barnuevo | Thursday, December 13 2012

Biometric voting machine at a Ghanaian polling station (credit: Gabriela Barnuevo)

Technology dominated Ghana's recent presidential elections, with candidates using popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to spread their messages. But it was the introduction of a biometric voter identification system that captured the most attention. Read More

WeGov

Chinese Social Media App Poses a Threat to Activists and Authorities Alike

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, December 13 2012

The most popular new social media app in China is raising suspicions over its geolocational abilities. WeChat, a phone app that combines the functions of Skype, Twitter, and Facebook with the power to locate nearby users, has ousted traditional texting as a contact method for many young people in China. But as the Guardian reported last week, a technology that tracks its users’ movements can be dangerous: Read More

News Briefs

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NY Study Shows How Freedom of Information Can Inform Open Data

On New York State's open data portal, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has around 40 data resources of varying sizes, such as maps of lakes and ponds and rivers, bird conservation areas and hiking trails. But those datasets do not include several data resources that are most sought after by many New York businesses, a new study from advocacy group Reinvent Albany has found. Welcome to a little-discussed corner of so-called "open government"--while agencies often pay lip service to the cause, the data they actually release is sometimes nowhere close to what is most wanted. GO

Responding to Ferguson, Activists Organize #NMOS14 Vigils Across America In Just 4 Days

This evening peaceful crowds will gather at more than 90 locations around the country to honor the victims of police brutality, most recently the unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Saturday. A moment of silence will begin at 20 minutes past 7 p.m. (EST). The vigils are being organized almost entirely online by the writer and activist Feminista Jones (@FeministaJones), with help from others from around the country who have volunteered to coordinate a vigil in their communities. Organizing such a large event in only a few days is a challenge, but in addition to ironing out basic logistics, the National Moment of Silence (#NMOS14) organizers have had to deal with co-optation, misrepresentation, and Google Docs and Facebook pages that are, apparently, buckling under traffic.

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