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First POST: NewCo News

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 18 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: More details on Pierre Omidyar and Glenn Greenwald's still unnamed NewCo investigative journalism site; one bankrupt Rhode Island town is trying crowdfunding for its parks; and the best reading from last week's 'book surge' break that you might have missed. Read More

WeGov

Now On YouTube: Indigenous Groups Burst Into Brazil’s Congress to Protest Land Rights Bill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, May 2 2013

Screengrab from political journalist's video of protest on YouTube

After waiting an entire day for an audience with Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies to discuss a controversial bill, hundreds of aboriginal Brazilians bypassed security guards and burst into the session. The disruption was caught live on the Chamber of Deputies TV channel, and later posted on YouTube. A political journalist posted a second, shakier video that shows confusion and chaos during the protest.

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WeGov

The US Military is Trying to Track Political Upheaval Via Social Media Content

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 14 2013

Cat Improving Military Strategy (from Memecenter.com).

Someone at South by Southwest may have already beaten them to programming drones to do the Harlem Shake, but the US military is still getting into memes.  An intelligence tool currently in development at the Office of Naval Research will track the spread of viral content online by actually treating it like a virus, using epidemiological models to predict how and where different ideas will emerge.

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WeGov

Indonesians Combat Rape Culture Via Social Media

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, January 23 2013

Indonesians have taken to social media to fight misogyny in the largely Muslim nation. Like in India, where several shocking incidents over the past year have led to outrage, public discourse over rape and other forms of sexual assault is the issue in question. Read More

WeGov

Beyond Crisis Mapping: Social Network Analysis of Twitter Buzz During Australian Floods

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, January 22 2013

The flooded streets of Brisbane during an 1893 flood (Australian National Maritime Museum/Flickr).

When a record-breaking flooding event struck the eastern states of Australia in December and January of 2010-2011, Twitter users took to their online network to share information and communicate with fellow victims of the natural disasters. A year later, social network analysis (SNA) reports of Twitter chatter during the floods offer a picture of social media behavior in disaster response. Read More

WeGov

Vietnam's Government-Hired Propaganda Bloggers

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, January 16 2013

The Vietnamese government acknowledged last week that up to 1,000 bloggers and online tastemakers in the country are hired propaganda agents, enlisted to steer Internet discourse towards support of Communist policies. These mercenary netizens have been a vocal presence in the Vietnamese blogosphere and on social media over the past few years, espousing pro-governmental opinions and attacking dissidents. Read More

WeGov

Citizen Journalists Tweet Mexico's Drug War, Replacing Traditional Media

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, January 10 2013

Over the past several years, a growing number of Twitter users in cities throughout Mexico have taken to their feeds with real-time coverage of violent crime. Part public service, part journalism, sometimes completely anonymous, these feeds have become, in many cases, an alternative to traditional news media when it comes to coverage of the country’s escalating drug war. Read More

WeGov

Twitter Could Stop the Next Great Fire of London

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, December 21 2012

Screengrab of the London Fire Brigade's official Twitter page

London emergency responders are piloting the world’s first Twitter-based fire reporting program, the city’s Fire Brigade announced earlier this week. While officials cautioned this is not a replacement for dialing 999 – that’s British English for 911 – Rita Dexter, the Deputy Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, explained that implementing social media-based emergency calls is simply looking forward. Read More

WeGov

The Ayatollah Is On Facebook, Even If Iran Isn’t Supposed to Be

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, December 20 2012

Screengrab of The Ayatollah Khamenei's new Facebook page

A Facebook page for Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini,appeared online last week. The apparently state-sanctioned page has garnered over 18,000 likes, though the popular social network has effectively been banned in the country since dissidents gathered online to power protests after the 2009 reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Read More

WeGov

Egyptian Belly Dancer's Salacious Video Mocking Muslim Brotherhood Goes Viral

BY Mahmoud Salem | Monday, November 19 2012

Sama El Masry (publicity shot)

Last week Sama El Masry, a famous Egyptian belly dancer, uploaded a home-made video to YouTube; it shows her in a skin tight outfit, swinging her hips seductively to a song rife with anti-Muslim Brotherhood political innuendo. The sexy little number set the Egyptian social media and political worlds ablaze — but not only because it mocked the prudish Islamists with the double whammy of gyrating hips and lyrics that were a blatant political satire that pulled no punches. In a bizarre twist that could only happen in post-revolutionary Egypt, the dancer was also famous for claiming to be the ex-wife of a Salafi member of parliament. Read More

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

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.

GO

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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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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