Category Archives: Digital Media
I’ll never forget it. I received a text message and raced over to meet a friend at a bar on a dark street in the Hamra district of Beirut. The place was packed with young and old alike, their faces stretched with emotion as they experienced a sensation unfamiliar to much of the Arab World–that of hope. A massive screen had been set up in a corner as if we were going to watch a World Cup match. Indeed, the anticipation felt much like that of the start of an exciting sporting event, and the subsequent deflation of spirit that followed was as disappointing as a defeat. But this was far more important than any football game. This was freedom at stake.
Hosni Mubarak did not resign that night as much of the world had expected, but his defiance was only to last another day. The man who had ruled Egypt for three decades, to whom we had referred to as Pharaoh Mubarak, finally gave in to the demands of people who only wanted the most basic of things in life: freedom, dignity, a voice.
Tunisia may have sparked what has come to be known as the Arab Spring, but it was Egypt that burned images of revolution into our minds. Events that led to that night began a year ago today, a day when hope burst forth from the souls of those who had been shackled by oppression for most or all of their existence. But the year has been wrought with setbacks, worry, crackdowns, and death. The media environment has been just one of the many victims of the oppressive tactics of the ruling Supreme Council of the Allied Forces (SCAF) that took the promises of the revolution and kept them for itself.
On the day after Mubarak resigned, Egyptian state television broadcasters apologized on air for lying to the people in their coverage of the revolution, blaming the state for ordering them to report a pro-state narrative, even showing an old video of an empty Tahrir Square. The position of information minister was eliminated in late February 2011, making Egypt, Lebanon, and Qatar the only countries in the Arab world without such a position. Soon after, however, state media returned to the role of propaganda machine, pushing a narrative that further protests were part of a foreign plot, a theme they would continue to promulgate as the SCAF moved to consolidate its power. The National Military Media Committee was created as SCAF’s propaganda arm to counteract what it called “biased coverage” against the military, and the post of information minister was reestablished. Protesters were demonized and portrayed as traitors to the revolution, and democracy activists became agents of foreign interference.
In this atmosphere, Maikel Nabil Sanad, an atheist who was supportive of Israel, was arrested in a calculated move by the military to set an example for other activists. He had written a post on his blog titled “The army and people wasn’t ever one hand,” which enumerated the military’s acts of oppression. “In fact, the revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not the dictatorship,” he wrote at a time when the military was viewed as heroic for its role in overthrowing Mubarak. On March 28, 2011, he was arrested on charges of “insulting the military.” Despite undertaking a hunger strike in protest of the unlawful detention, Nabil did not receive much support because of his views, and in the international community, his arrest went virtually unnoticed.
Nowhere were the effects of state media propaganda more devastating than at the Maspero media complex in Cairo, when Coptic Christian protesters were portrayed as aggressors, inciting violence that led to the deaths of 27 civilians.
Citizen journalism and social media came to define the movement that the world witnessed in real time, and it is what has kept the spirit of revolution alive. While the Internet may not have been the reason for the movement’s birth, there is no denying it had a major influence on Mubarak’s ouster and the continuing protests. Alla Abdel Fattah, the activist blogger who was arrested last autumn and who was instrumental in rallying support for Nabil, has played a big role in awakening the world to the oppressive tactics of the SCAF. Wael Ghonim, founder of the We Are All Khaled Said Facebook page, and Wael Abbas, another well-known blogger, were both detained at various times. Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy’s arms were broken when she was detained late last year.
The work of Egyptian citizen journalists can be found on the Mosireen YouTube channel. Mosireen is a media collective of filmmakers and citizen journalists that has become one of the most popular non-profit YouTube channels in the world. It has published videos from the revolution and was instrumental in showing the world the truth about the Maspero massacre. Sites like Mosireen show that state media can no longer hide the truth from the world.
The pressure that citizen journalism has put on state media is showing some results. Last week, employees at the state-owned Nile News Channel began a sit-in to demand an immediate end to censorship and to push for reforms in the state media sector. The protest was sparked by a ban on broadcasting the documentary Tahrir Square, which shows the military’s brutal treatment of the January 25 protesters. It is worth mentioning that Nile News Channel is located in the Maspero building where the Coptic protesters were murdered last October.
The SCAF has made some concessions in the days leading up to today’s anniversary. Nabil has been released, along with nearly 2,000 other prisoners. The Supreme Press Council is currently drafting proposals to amend freedom of expression laws and plans to form a committee of professional journalists to help develop mechanisms to “free the media from government domination.” However, many activists believe these moves have been designed to ease tension and are not long-term changes.
Today, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered at Tahrir demanding the same human rights they wanted a year ago. They have sipped from the cup of liberty and seem determined not to give up until freedom is theirs.
For Egypt’s State Media, the Revolution Has Yet to Arrive – Freedom House
Watch “The Egyptian Revolution,” a multimedia documentary produced by TrustMedia, the media development wing of the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF).
Nile News Channel’s sit-in:
Highlights from the world of digital media. Sign up here for the full version of CIMA’s weekly Digital Media Mash Up.
Is Internet Access a Human Right?
Internet Access Is Not a Human Right
Vint Cerf: From the streets of Tunis to Tahrir Square and beyond, protests around the world last year were built on the Internet and the many devices that interact with it. Though the demonstrations thrived because thousands of people turned out to participate, they could never have happened as they did without the ability that the Internet offers to communicate, organize and publicize everywhere, instantaneously. (New York Times, 1/5)
Is Internet Access a Fundamental Human Right?
Should internet access be seen as a fundamental human right, in the same category as the right to free speech or clean drinking water? The United Nations says that it should, but in a New York Times op-ed, one of the fathers of the internet argues that it should not. Vint Cerf is the co-creator of the TCP/IP standard that the global computer network is built on, so when he says something about the impact of the internet it’s probably worth paying attention to. But is he right? And what are the implications if he is wrong? (GigaOM, 1/5)
Vint Cerf on Why Internet Access Is Not a Human Right (+ A Few More Reasons)
In an provocative oped in today’s New York Times, Vint Cerf, one of the pioneers of the Net who now holds the position “chief Internet evangelist” at Google, makes the argument for why “Internet Access Is Not a Human Right.” You won’t be surprised to hear that I generally agree. But there are two other issues Cerf fails to address. First, who or what pays the bill for classifying the Internet or broadband as a birthright entitlement? Second, what are the potential downsides for competition and innovation from such a move? (Tech Liberation Front, 1/5)
Top Trends to Watch in 2012
2011 was a big year for news in more ways than one. Reporters were amply tested in their coverage of big breaking news stories such as the death of Osama Bin Laden or Muammar Gaddafi, major disasters such as the Fukushima earthquake, and complex political unrest much of the Arab World. Meanwhile, newspapers continue to seek an effective digital business model, to tackle the challenges posed by social media and community involvement, to create innovative tablet applications and respond to ethical dilemmas. Looking forward to 2012, what can we expect? (Editors Weblog, 1/2)
Forecast for 2012: BBC Boss Predicts ‘First Truly Digital’ Olympics
Phil Fearnley, general manager of news and knowledge at BBC Future Media, predicts an explosive year for takeup of new technology as the Olympic games come to London. (The Guardian, 1/1)
Issues for 2012 #5: How Will Online News Be Organized?
Just ask the man who signs my paychecks… or at least, go back to October 2007 and ask Richard MacManus, the founder and EIC of this publication. He would tell you directly and succinctly that ReadWriteWeb is not a blog. That is, by the definition of that time, it’s not a one-man show. “ReadWriteWeb has evolved,” Richard wrote at the time, “into something different than a blog, which is traditionally thought of as the voice of a single person.” (Read Write Web, 1/3)
The Mobile Revolution Is Here
2011 saw smartphone and tablet shipments outpace computer purchases for the first time and the world’s largest search engine spend over $12 billion to snatch one of the world’s largest mobile device manufacturers. We met Apple’s Siri, watched BlackBerry fall from the summit of mobile dominance, and witnessed vicious mobile-patent gamesmanship over devices and operating systems. With 20% of all searches being conducted from mobile devices, the mobile revolution is upon us. (MediaPost, 1/5)
INDIA: Is 2012 the Year for India’s Internet?
It’s estimated as many as 121 million Indians are logged onto the internet. It is a sizeable number, but still a relatively small proportion of the country’s 1.2 billion population. Predictions suggest the ways Indians use the internet for business and pleasure will change even further in the next year. (BBC, 1/3)
NIGERIA: Nigeria Yearns for Broadband Internet in 2012
Over one year after the landing of two additional undersea broadband cable networks – Main-One and Glo-One in the country, the penetration and cost of broadband internet services have remained hardly accessible. This is despite the fact that internet penetration in the country has catapulted from 10 to 40 million content of the population in a few short years. The reason for the poor broadband penetration, is that although more capacity has landed at the country’s coastline, the infrastructure to take it into the hinterland is largely lacking. (Business Day, 1/3)
Social Media Usage in Russia and Eurasia
Statistics from Focus, December 2011 (Russian)
Global Social Technographics Update 2011: US And EU Mature, Emerging Markets Show Lots Of Activity
Last month George Colony, CEO of Forrester, talked about a “Social Thunderstorm” at the LeWeb conference in Paris. He argued that social is running out of hours and running out of people. What does that mean? Well, the second one is easy: The vast majority of consumers around the world who have access to a computer use social media. And the first one? George goes on to say that Americans are spending more time on social media than volunteering, praying, talking on the phone, emailing, or even exercising. With so many people spending so much time on social media, it is crucial for companies to understand how their customers use social media. We just released our newest report, Social Media Adoption In 2011, which reveals the latest trends. (Forrester, 1/4)
HUNGARY: New Study: “Hungarian Media Laws in Europe: An Assessment of the Consistency of Hungary’s Media Laws with European Practices and Norms”
A new CMCS study led by researcher Amy Brouillette analyses the consistency of the Hungarian media regulations with European practices and norms. It addresses a key international policy debate regarding the conformity of Hungary’s new media legislation to European and EU media-regulation standards. The study also contributes to the ongoing policy making process regarding Hungary’s media laws—particularly in light of the recent rulings by Hungary’s Constitutional Court which requires several provisions to be amended by 31 May 2012—as well as contributing to the debate around other areas of concern that have been raised by the European Commission, European lawmakers, and domestic and international stakeholders. (Center for Media and Communication Studies, 1/5)
Global Censorship Update – January 2012
View Global Censorship Update – January 2012 in a larger map
Highlights from the world of digital media. Sign up here for the full version of CIMA’s weekly Digital Media Mash Up.
This Spring Breeze Did Not Arise in the West
So here I am, an Arab journalist in Silicon Valley, where four out of every four people I meet believe Facebook invented the Arab Spring. Three more weeks here and I may start to hallucinate that Mark Zuckerberg was a Cairo-slums native named Hassouna El-Fatatri, who rotted in a Mubarak prison for advocating personal privacy rights. (IPS, 12/23)
EGYPT: Egyptian Veteran Blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah Released
Egyptian veteran blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah has finally been released pending investigation from the Cairo Criminal Court yesterday after being detained for 56 days. (Global Voices Advocacy, 12/27)
EGYPT: Eyewitness Accounts of Raid on Civil Society Group in Cairo Posted on Twitter
As my colleagues David D. Kirkpatrick and J. David Goodman report, “Egyptian security forces stormed the offices of 17 nonprofit groups around the country on Thursday, including at least three democracy-promotion groups financed by the United States, as part of what Egypt’s military-led government has said is an investigation into ‘foreign hands’ in the recent outbreak of protests.” (New York Times, 12/29)
RUSSIA: Social Network In-Between Security Services and Free Market
As social networks in Russia like Vkontakte play an ever increasing role in communication between post-election protesters, so too grows the interest of the security services to limit them. This conflict leads to a hard choice: whether Vkontakte should respond to security service requests, or allow its users uncontrolled protest activity. (Global Voices, 12/28)
UNITED STATES: SOPA Is the End of Us, Say Bloggers
The conservative and liberal blogospheres are unifying behind opposition to Congress’s Stop Online Piracy Act, with right-leaning bloggers arguing their very existence could be wiped out if the anti-piracy bill passes. (Politico, 12/28)
Issues for the New Year
TWITTER: A Dispute Over Who Owns a Twitter Account Goes to Court
How much is a tweet worth? And how much does a Twitter follower cost? (New York Times, 12/25)
AFRICA: 12 predictions for Africa Tech Scene in 2012
It has been a banner year for the Africa technology scene as the world begins to turn to the continent – the Economist Africa rising cover story article was for many, a big validation in the future opportunities as well as challenges for Africa. The best follow up post worth reading is by Professor Juma of the Harvard Kennedy School in the UK Guardian blog, both recognize the importance of the technology scene in supporting Africa’s prosperity. (Afrinnovator, 12/28)
Will 2012 Be the Year of Hypermedia?
Andy Carvin became synonymous with a new form of media curation in 2011, retweeting first-hand accounts of the revolutions in Egypt and its surrounding countries to his tens of thousands of followers. A small group of media visionaries is now working to ensure that the next Andy Carvin won’t be restricted to 140 characters. (GigaOM, 12/28)
How Online Audio Tools Can Help Journalists
First blogs, then Flickr, then YouTube, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Tumblr… If you were told there’s one more thing that you have to be using to survive in journalism, you’d be forgiven for lashing out. But that’s exactly what I’m going to do. (Poynter, 12/29)
A tiny number of ideas can go a long way, as we’ve seen. And the Internet makes that more and more likely. What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard. My worry is that we could be moving in that direction, towards becoming more and more sort of docile copiers. (Edge, 12/15)
Does the Journal Really Matter Anymore?
Following on my previous post, another thought that springs from personal experience and its convergence with someone’s research. If you look at my Google Scholar profile, you will note that in 2011 my citation counts exploded (by social science standards, mind you – in the qualitative social sciences an article with 50 citations or more is pretty huge). Now, part of this is probably a product of my academic maturation – a number of articles now getting attention have been around for 3-4 years, which is about how long it takes for things to work their way into the literature. However, I’ve also seen a surge in a few older pieces that had previously plateaued in terms of citations. This can’t be attributed to a new surge in interest in a particular topic, as these articles cross a range of development issues. However, they all seem to be surging since I got on Twitter and joined the blogosphere. (12/27)
Of Surrogate Futures and Scattered Temporalities
There can be no refuting Michael Edwards’ claim that the world we live in is not only thick with problems, but that the problems that we are collectively trying to address are ‘thick…complex, politicized and unpredictable…complicated and contested’. It is also difficult to disagree with the fact that the solutions we work with, are often too thin, fetishising enumeration of impact more than actual systemic change in areas of intervention. This is what he calls the ‘magic bullet’ approach to accounting for the work we do in a language and framework shaped by neo-liberal and corporate productivity in the age of late-capitalism. (Center for Internet and Society, 12/29)
Just last week I was discussing the terrifically interesting work of Michael Sacasas who pens The Frailest Thing, a poetic blog about technology and culture. [see: "Information Revolutions & Cultural / Economic Tradeoffs"] I highly recommend you follow his blog even if you struggle to keep up with his brilliance, as I often do. He posted another great essay today entitled, “Nostalgia: The Third Wave,” in which he discusses the work of the late social critic Christopher Lasch and his work on memory and nostalgia. Go read the entire thing since I cannot possible do it justice here. Anyway, I posted a short comment over there that I thought I would just republish here in case others are interested. I find the issue of nostalgia to be quite interesting. (Technology Liberation Front, 12/29)
Twitter Beats Facebook (And Everyone Else) As The Most Popular Social Network Of 2011
Twitter received more media coverage than any other social network in 2011, earning around half of all press reportage, beating Facebook into second place, says a new study. (MediaBistro, 12/27)
Arab Social Media Report
The societal and political transformations sweeping the Arab region have empowered large segments of the region’s population. Many stereotypes have been shattered, with Arab youth, “netizens” and women becoming the main drivers for regional change. Arab women in particular have become more engaged in political and civic actions, playing a critical leading role in the rapid and historic changes that have swept the region. Meanwhile, the debate about the role of social media in these transformations has reached policy making circles at the regional and global levels. (Dubai School of Government, December 2011)
It’s a Social World: Social Networking Leads as Top Online Activity Globally, Accounting for 1 in Every 5 Online Minutes
comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released the report It’s a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It’s Headed. The report analyzes the current state of social networking activity around the globe, providing key insights into how social networking has influenced the digital landscape and implications for marketers operating in this social world. (comScore, 12/21)
CHINA: Presentation on Mapping Chinese Censorship
I recently presented my work on censorship mapping to my colleagues at the OII, including a couple of maps with early analysis of DNS manipulation in Chinese cities. The analysis is very preliminary, and there are a huge number of caveats even for the early results, but here’s the presentation. (Pseudonymity, 12/29)
The New Landscape for Civics and Politics (Especially in Mobile)
SLIDESHOW: Voting Information Technology Summit-GeekNetNYC (Pew Internet, 12/1)
Culturnomics 2.0: Forecasting Large-Scale Human Behavior Using Global News Media Tone in Time and Space
News is increasingly being produced and consumed online, supplanting print and broadcast to represent nearly half of the news monitored across the world today by Western intelligence agencies. Recent literature has suggested that computational analysis of large text archives can yield novel insights to the functioning of society, including predicting future economic events. Applying tone and geographic analysis to a 30–year worldwide news archive, global news tone is found to have forecasted the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, including the removal of Egyptian President Mubarak, predicted the stability of Saudi Arabia (at least through May 2011), estimated Osama Bin Laden’s likely hiding place as a 200–kilometer radius in Northern Pakistan that includes Abbotabad, and offered a new look at the world’s cultural affiliations. Along the way, common assertions about the news, such as “news is becoming more negative” and “American news portrays a U.S.–centric view of the world” are found to have merit. (First Monday, 9/5)
Global Censorship Update
View Global Censorship Update – December 2011 in a larger map
One can imagine the clack clack of a typewriter punching in information about opportunities for journalists onto crisp sheets of paper, which were then Xeroxed (back then, everyone said “Xerox” for copy), hand-stuffed into envelopes, stamped, and mailed. Eventually, fax machines eliminated the need to copy, stuff, and mail, but faxing still required a lot of time. These were the early days of IJNet.
Today, the miracle of the Internet and mobile technology provide IJNet’s creator, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the ability to reach the entirety of the world’s networked population. Reaching over 185 countries, IJNet, an online space for all things journalism, has seen a significant increase in its web traffic since its relaunch a year ago . The site publishes training and networking opportunities for journalists, tips on tools and innovations in journalism, and news and commentary about global media. Journalists from across the globe–whether they are professional, aspiring, or citizen journalists–can find this information in seven languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, Persian, Russian, and Portuguese.
Founded in the mid-eighties, IJNet has evolved with the rapid technological advances of our time, and social media is an important part of the IJNet strategy. You can find IJNet on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, and Sina Weibo in the various IJNet languages.
Examples of IJNet content:
- Opportunities: Exchange program open for journalists [U.S., Russia]
- Tools: UMapper: an easy mapping tool for journalists on deadline
- Blog: How a volunteer news brigade broke through Libya’s Internet blackout
A new feature on IJNet is the “journalist of the month,” where journalists from across the globe talk about their work and how they use IJNet. This month’s winner is Paromita Pain from India. Read about her here: http://ijnet.org/stories/ijnet-journalist-month-paromita-pain
IJNet is part of ICFJ’s arsenal of journalist tools and programs, including ICFJ Anywhere, a site for online journalism courses worldwide, Knight International Journalism Fellowships, reports and toolkits, and ICFJ’s training programs, which are bringing journalists across the globe into the digital age to increase the flow of quality news.
Highlights from the world of digital media. Sign up here for CIMA’s weekly Digital Media Mash Up.
Open Society Foundations’ Mapping Digital Media Project
A free press and access to information are inherent traits of democratic societies. As technological changes have had a tremendous impact on the way citizens consume news and information, traditional media outlets have been forced to rethink the way they gather and present news.
Digital technology presents an opportunity for a golden age for information, but with it comes risks. The democratic values of media pluralism, transparency and accountability, editorial independence, and freedom of expression and information can be threatened by a lack of understanding about new technologies. Policymakers across the globe often struggle to grasp new technological concepts, which can lead them to draft laws that run contrary to the values of freedom of information and expression.
The Open Society Foundations’ Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering up to 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs. The project aims to build bridges between researchers and policymakers, activists, academics and standard-setters across the world. It also builds policy capacity in countries where this is less developed, encouraging stakeholders to participate and influence change. At the same time, this research creates a knowledge base, laying foundations for advocacy work, building capacity and enhancing debate.
Currently, reports are available for Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Morocco, Mexico, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Others will be released as they are completed.
In addition to the country reports, the Open Society Media Program has commissioned research papers on a range of topics related to digital media. These papers are published as the MDM Reference Series.
———————————————————————————————————————————————-Digital Media and the Elections in Russia
Russian Court Fines Election Monitor $1,000
A Moscow court on Friday ruled that the country’s sole independent election watchdog had broken Russian law by publishing citizens’ complaints of campaign abuses during the run-up to parliamentary elections this weekend. Friday’s court ruling related to Golos’s “Map of Violations,” which has attracted more than 4,500 reports alleging illegal campaign tactics, including stories of employers threatening workers with pay cuts and local officials ordering business leaders to pressure subordinates. (New York Times, 12/3)
Critical Websites Hacked, Down on Election Day
Popular Russian media websites, the major LiveJournal social network and the website of the country’s biggest independent election watchdog, were inaccessible in hacking attacks for several hours on Sunday in what their employees said was an attempt to jam information on parliamentary elections. (Ria Novosti, 12/4)
Massive DDOS Attack on Independent Media during Russian Duma Election
I’m just waking up to discover that, coinciding with today’s Russian Duma elections, there has been a series of major DDOS attacks that have at times brought down a number of leading independent media outlets, the LiveJournal blogging platform, and the online ‘map of [election] violations’ by election watchdog group Golos. (Internet and Democracy Blog, 12/4)
The Internet’s Watching
Past Sunday’s Duma Elections Were the First Russian Elections to Come Under So Much Scrutiny in RuNet, Social Networks and the Russian Blogosphere. (Ria Novosti, 12/5)
Journalists and Bloggers Arrested during Moscow Demonstration
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s arrests of reporters, photographers and bloggers while covering a street protest in Moscow against the results of the previous day’s parliamentary elections and the irregularities that accompanied the polling. (Reporters Without Borders, 12/6)
A Blogger Could Start Russia’s Arab Spring
The new face of the Russian opposition is a young whistle-blowing, shareholder activist, muckraking blogger by the name of Alexei Navalny. At 2:15 p.m. on Monday, he called his huge internet following to a 7 p.m. demonstration at the Chistye Prudy park to protest “the rotten total fabrication of Moscow election results.” He wondered why some Moscow districts reported 20 percent while identical districts next door reported 70 percent votes for United Russia. (Forbes, 12/6)
Social Media Makes Anti-Putin Protests “Snowball”
Artyom Kolpakov used to shrug when he came across occasional appeals on social media sites to protest against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government. “I didn’t see the point really,” he said. But something changed when, clicking through amateur videos and online testimonies documenting cases of ballot-stuffing and repeat voting, he saw others shared his outrage at Putin’s party’s victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (Reuters, 12/7)
The Internet, the Ballot Box and the Russian Presidency
VIDEO: In Moscow today, protesters took to the streets for a second day of demonstrations over Russian elections on Sunday that were marred by widespread reports of fraud and attempts to suppress election monitoring — the climax of a conflict over political power in that country that has been playing out on the Internet for months. (Tech President, 12/7)
Due West: Russia’s Internet Generation Finally Finds Itself
“You know what I did on election day? I started checking where my friends were via Foursquare”. Noticing the slightly bemused look of an Internet illiterate, Anton Nosik, Russia’s number one Internet guru explained it to me: “It is an application which allows you to see in real time where people you follow on Twitter were. And you know what I saw? Page after page of “I am at a polling station number so and so” tweets. Most of them are thirtysomethings and the majority were voting for the first time.” (Ria Novosti, 12/7)
Russian Social Network: FSB Asked It To Block Kremlin Protesters
A Russian social-networking website part-owned by London-listed Mail.Ru Group said Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, has asked it to block the online activities of political protest groups during a tense period following parliamentary elections. (Wall Street Journal, 12/8)
Russians Fight Twitter and Facebook Battles over Putin Election
Protests against president’s party escalate across social media with flood of automated counterattacks and alleged hacking. (The Guardian, 12/9)
CENTRAL ASIA: Censorship and Control of the Internet and Other New Media
Briefing paper by International Partnership for Human Rights, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. (November 2011)
ENGLAND: Reading the Riots: Investigating England’s Summer of Disorder
A study of the causes of the English riots. (The Guardian, 12/7)
IRAQ: Audience Analysis The Role of Journalism and Social Media in the Consumption of News in Iraq
Newly released IREX audience research shows that while Iraqis continue to rely on television as their primary source for news and information, social media and mobile devices play an important role in the consumption and distribution of news and information in Iraq. (IREX, December 2011)
LATVIA: Mapping Digital Media: Latvia
The Mapping Digital Media project examines the global opportunities and risks created by the transition from traditional to digital media. Covering 60 countries, the project examines how these changes affect the core democratic service that any media system should provide: news about political, economic, and social affairs. (Open Society Foundations, December 2011)
MIDDLE EAST NORTH AFRICA: Media As Key Witnesses and Political Pawns: Upheaval in the Arab World
A year after the start of democratic uprisings in the Arab world, Reporters Without Borders takes stock of censorship and violations of free speech during the “Arab Spring.” (Reporters Without Borders, November 2011)
RUSSIA: Russian Digital Dualism: Changing Society, Manipulative State
The article studies the effect of the Internet on Russian society in the 2000s, as well as the complex relations between the Internet, groups of digital activists and the manipulative state. The Internet creates new spaces for politicians and proto-politicians to practice digital activism, develop relationships of trust and new identities. At the same time, it becomes an object for increasing neo-Nazi and Islamist mobilization, and subject to greater control by a government worried by the inability to dominate this sphere. (Russia/NIS Center, December 2011)
UNITED STATES: Exploring the Digital Nation
Report by the Economics and Statistics Administration, the National Telecoms and Information Administration, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. (November 2011)
VENEZUELA: Law on Social Responsibility of Radio, Television and Electronic Media
ARTICLE 19 analysed the Law on Social Responsibilities on Radio, Television and Electronic Media of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for its compliance with international standards on freedom of expression. The Law, published on 22 December 2010 is an amendment to the 2004 Law on Social Responsibility on Radio and Television. While proponents had applauded the 2004 Law as modernising the country’s communication structure, critics had seen it as a naked attempt to gain control over private broadcast media. (Article 19, November 2011)
Global Censorship Update
View Global Censorship Update – December 2011 in a larger map