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Facebook’s position on real names not negotiable for dissidents

“Facebook’s real-name-only approach is non-negotiable – despite claims that it puts political activists at risk, one of its senior policy execs said this morning.

Simon Axten, of Facebook’s public policy team, said today that the ‘real name culture’ was an essential element of the social networking platform. However, the policy has also been blamed for making it easy for oppressive regimes to roll up networks of dissidents who use Facebook to communicate.”

From The Register

Syria to set Facebook status to unbanned in gesture to people

“Syrian authorities are to lift a five-year ban on Facebook in a move seen as an apparent “appeasement” measure, aimed at staving off unrest in the country following recent political developments in Egypt and Tunisia.

In a rare and candid interview, President Bashar al-Assad told the Wall Street Journal last week that he would push through political reforms this year aimed at initiating municipal elections, granting more power to non-governmental organisations and establishing a new media law.”

From The Guardian

The Hopeful Network

“CAIRO — Most of the world got a crash course in the Egyptian opposition movement this month, as mass protests broke out on the streets of Cairo. From all appearances, the movement emerged organically in the wake of the overthrow of the government in nearby Tunisia, as hundreds of thousands of angry citizens turned out to demand President Hosni Mubarak immediately step down. Several days after the marches began, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei arrived on the scene to give the marchers in the streets a nominal leader and media-savvy public face. And shortly after that, Egypt’s largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, joined in, lending its political heft to the movement.

But the groundwork for the Egyptian uprising was set well before these high-profile figures and organizations became involved. Nearly three years ago, a group of youth activists with a strong sense of Internet organizing and more than a little help from abroad was preparing for a grassroots, high-tech opposition movement.”

From Foreign Policy

Trolls pounce on Facebook’s Tahrir Square

“Cairo’s Tahrir Square is a warzone, thanks to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s goon squad. But the crackdown isn’t limited to physical spaces where the protest movement congregates. Ever since Mubarak restored Internet service on Wednesday, the most important dissident Facebook page has seen a curious flood of pro-regime Wall posts, sowing disinformation.

Some of the new up-with-Mubarak commentary at We Are All Khalid Said is classic concern-trolling: people wringing their hands over how Egypt’s dictator deserves better than calls for his downfall. Some is pure abuse, questioning the loyalties of the page’s administrator. And some are blatant attempts to disrupt the protests by claiming upcoming rallies have been canceled.”

From Wired

Morocco Facebook group calls for protests

“A group of young Moroccans called Thursday for pro-reform demonstrations later this month via Facebook, in the latest example of Web-driven anti-government protests across the Arab world.

“We call on all Moroccans to protest February 20 for the dignity of the people and for democratic reforms,” the group, which claims some 3,400 followers, said in a statement.”

From The Sydney Morning Herald

Facebook treads carefully after its vital role in Egypt’s anti-Mubarak protests

“In Egypt, the tried-and-true tool for opponents of President Hosni Mubarak in recent years has been Facebook. Most recently, it was on Facebook – which boasts 5 million users in Egypt, the most in the Arab world – where youthful outrage over the killing of a prominent activist spread, leading to the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and Mubarak’s promise to step down this year.

But Facebook, which celebrates its seventh birthday Friday and has more than a half-billion users worldwide, is not eagerly embracing its role as the insurrectionists’ instrument of choice. Its strategy contrasts with rivals Google and Twitter, which actively helped opposition leaders communicate after the Egyptian government shut down Internet access.

The Silicon Valley giant, whether it likes it or not, has been thrust like never before into a sensitive global political moment that pits the company’s need for an open Internet against concerns that autocratic regimes could limit use of the site or shut it down altogether.”

From The Washington Post

Syria tightens Internet ban after Tunis unrest – users

“Syrian authorities have banned programmes that allow access to Facebook Chat from cellphones, tightening already severe restrictions on the Internet in the wake of the unrest in Tunisia.

Nimbuzz and eBuddy, two programmes that allow access to Facebook Chat and other messaging programmes through a single interface, no longer work in Syria.

The main Facebook page is also banned, but proxies allow Syrians to bypass the controls, with the chat function through cellphones gaining popularity, especially among the young.

“All indicators point downhill after the revolution in Tunisia. The policy of iron censorship has not changed,” said Mazen Darwish, head of the Syrian Media and Freedom of Expression Centre.”

From Reuters

Tunisia plants country-wide keystroke logger on Facebook

“Malicious code injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! stole login credentials of users critical of the North African nation’s authoritarian government, according to security experts and news reports.

The rogue JavaScript, which was individually customized to steal passwords for each site, worked when users tried to login without availing themselves of the secure sockets layer protection designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. It was found injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! in late December, around the same time that protestors began demanding the ouster of the president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Danny O’Brien, internet advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told The Register that the script was most likely planted using an internet censorship system.”

From The Register

The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks

“It was on Christmas Day that Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan first noticed strange things going on in Tunisia. Reports started to trickle in that political-protest pages were being hacked. “We were getting anecdotal reports saying, ‘It looks like someone logged into my account and deleted it,'” Sullivan said.

For Tunisians, it was another run-in with Ammar, the nickname they’ve given to the authorities that censor the country’s Internet. They’d come to expect it.”

From The Atlantic

Facebook Makes Deal With German Privacy Group

“BERLIN — Facebook, facing potential fines for violating strict privacy laws in Germany, agreed on Monday to let users in the country better shield their e-mail contacts from unwanted advertisements and solicitations it sends.

Facebook, which has more than 10 million users in Germany, agreed to modify its Friend Finder service to let Germans better block its ability to contact people, including non-Facebook users culled from a user’s e-mail address books.

Tina Kulow, a Facebook spokeswoman in Hamburg, said users in Germany would now be advised that the site could send solicitations to people on their mailing lists, should they choose to upload their address books to Friend Finder.”

From The New York Times