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The new media: Between revolution and repression – Net solidarity takes on censorship

“The year 2010 firmly established the role of social networks and the Internet as mobilization and news transmission tools. In 2010 alone, 250 million Internet users joined Facebook and by the end of the year, the social network had 600 million members. In September that year, 175 million people were Twitter users – 100 million more than in the previous year.

The Internet remains above all a tool used for the better or the worse. In the most closed countries, it creates a space of freedom which would not otherwise exist. Its potential to disseminate news irritates dictators and eludes traditional censorship methods. Some regimes use it – mainly on Facebook and Twitter – to monitor dissidents and infiltrate their networks.”

From Reporters Without Borders

Cameroon bans mobile Twitter service

“The official Twitter Mobile account announced yesterday that ‘Twitter SMS on MTN Cameroon has been suspended by the Cameroonian government.’

The country’s opposition had been planning ‘Egypt-like’ protests against longtime President Paul Biya in February, but those were quickly disrupted and put down by the government’s security forces.”

From Foreign Policy

Sites Like Twitter Absent From Free Speech Pact

“When Google, Yahoo and Microsoft signed a code of conduct intended to protect online free speech and privacy in restrictive countries, the debate over censorship by China was raging, and Internet companies operating there were under fire for putting profit ahead of principle.

It seemed the perfect rallying moment for a core cause, and the companies hoped that other technology firms would follow their lead. But three years later, the effort known as the Global Network Initiative has failed to attract any corporate members beyond the original three, limiting its impact and raising questions about its potential as a viable force for change.

At the same time, the recent Middle East uprisings have highlighted the crucial role technology can play in the world’s most closed societies, which leaders of the initiative say makes their efforts even more important.”

From The New York Times

Blogger becomes latest victim of Turkish Internet bans

“A spat over rights to broadcast Turkish football matches has led a local court to issue a blanket ban on the popular blogging platform Blogger, angering Turkish Internet users with what experts said was a disproportionate response.

The court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır banned the website, a property of Google Inc., in response to a complaint by the satellite television provider Digiturk, which owns the broadcast rights to Turkish Super League games. Matches broadcast on Digiturk’s Lig TV channel had been illegally posted by several Blogger users on their blogs.

“The [impact of the decision] will be censorship, although it might not have been the court decision’s final purpose,” said Ergürel of the Media Association.”

From Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review

In Social Media Postings, a Trove for Investigators

“As Twitter, Facebook and other forms of public electronic communication embed themselves in people’s lives, the postings, rants and messages that appear online are emerging as a new trove for the police and prosecutors to sift through after crimes. Such sites are often the first place they go.

Though social media postings have emerged only recently as an element of prosecutions, those in the legal arena are fast learning that Facebook, MySpace and Twitter can help to pin down the whereabouts of suspects and shed light on motives.

Online postings can help prosecutors establish a level of intent, or even premeditation, in sometimes crucial components of crimes.”

From The New York Times

Libyan rebels improve net access

“Net access in Libya is improving in areas under the control of protesters, suggests analysis of data flows. The Libyan authorities have sporadically cut net access in the country but analysis by net firms suggest their hold is loosening.

In areas that are no longer under control of the Libyan government, such as Benghazi, net traffic has risen in recent days.

Since the government started blocking internet access on 18 February, net access in Libya has been running at about 60-80% of its normal levels ; however, the amount of net traffic flowing in and out of the country appears to be growing.”

From BBC News

Saudi Government monitoring Internet to stifle protests

“Democracy activists in Saudi Arabia say the government is closely monitoring social media to nip in the bud any protests inspired by uprisings that swept Arab countries, toppling leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

Activists have set up Facebook pages calling for protests on March 11 and 20, with more than 17,000 supporters combined, but police managed to stifle two attempts to hold protests in the Red Sea city of Jeddah last month.

In one case, between 30 and 50 people were detained by police when they gathered on the street, witnesses said. In the second, security forces flooded the location of a protest advertised on Facebook, scaring off protesters.”

From The Globe and Mail

The truth about Twitter, Facebook and the uprisings in the Arab world

“As commentators have tried to imagine the nature of the uprisings, they have attempted to cast them as many things: as an Arab version of the eastern European revolutions of 1989 or something akin to the Iranian revolution that toppled the Shah in 1979. Most often, though, they have tried to conceive them through the media that informed them – as the result of WikiLeaks, as “Twitter revolutions” or inspired by Facebook.

Precisely how we communicate in these moments of historic crisis and transformation is important. The medium that carries the message shapes and defines as well as the message itself. The instantaneous nature of how social media communicate self-broadcast ideas, unlimited by publication deadlines and broadcast news slots, explains in part the speed at which these revolutions have unravelled, their almost viral spread across a region. It explains, too, the often loose and non-hierarchical organisation of the protest movements unconsciously modelled on the networks of the web.”

From The Guardian

LinkedIn site disrupted in protest-wary China

“Access to the networking site LinkedIn was disrupted in China on Thursday, following online calls on other sites for gatherings inspired by protests against authoritarian regimes across the Middle East.

It was not immediately clear whether the blockage on domestic Chinese Internet lines of LinkedIn, one of the few foreign networking sites not previously blocked by Beijing, was due to state censorship.”

From Reuters Africa

Libya faces internet blackouts amid protests

“Libya is the latest North African country to experience internet trouble as democratic protests continue to sweep the region.

The massive Saharan country, long controlled by the dictator Moammar Gadhafi, has suffered “rolling blackouts” of its internet connections during the regime’s ongoing violent crackdown on protestors, according to the internet traffic monitor Renesys.

The cause of these internet service cuts, however, remains uncertain. Possibilities include a government crackdown, an internet traffic overload or simple power outages, said Jim Cowie, Renesys’ co-founder.”

From CNN