Citizen Lab Senior Researcher Helmi Noman was interviewed for a recent Wharton School article entitled, “Watch What You Type: Social Media a Tool for Revolutionaries, and Increasingly, for Security Agencies”:
After watching Arab Spring protests topple regimes in Tunis and Cairo, Shiite protestors in Bahrain took to social media to organize their own movement against the royal family. They were unaware these same online efforts would be turned against them by the country’s internal security forces, which used pictures from profile pages to identify protestors, and also hosted a Facebook page, “Together to Unmask the Shiite Traitors,” which acted as a virtual snitch line.
As it continues to punish its rebellious citizens, Syria has adopted more proactive tactics, closely monitoring social media sites to identify people as protests happen. According to The New York Times, protestors are forced to give up the passwords to their Facebook accounts and are jailed. The newspaper reports that Syrian activists are creating false accounts as a countermeasure.
The news is replete with headlines of just how closely authorities are monitoring social media, even in the West. A number of people have been arrested in the U.S. for making threats on Facebook. Recently, Twitter and Google Blogger announced they would abide by requests from authorities in countries to block content deemed ‘offensive.’ Social media has become a flashpoint in the Muslim world for non-political issues too: An Indonesian man made headlines in January after his arrest for making comments on Facebook about religion, while a expatriate woman in the United Arab Emirates was held last year for insulting Islam on the social media site.
For the full article, see here.