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Ed Webb

This Intifada Will Be Digital - The Black Iris - 0 views

  • In these 15 years, we went from an era where mainstream media dominated the narrative, to an era where social media dominates it. This isn’t a time when the mainstream sees the online as a playful mechanism of democratized media (or an opportunity to present their brands as participatory), but a time when the mainstream is chasing down leads from what circulates online. And the region’s people now have the power to shape the narrative (whether we’ve fully realized it or not).
  • Internet user growth in the region has gone up by 6,091.9% between 2000 and 2015
  • Arabic is now the fourth biggest language on the Web after English, Chinese and Spanish
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  • as a Jordanian, I was part of what I personally believe to be the final generation that actually gave a damn what the government did or did not do. Our relationship with the state was like our relationship with a television – a one-way communication channel, where we are on the receiving end no matter how much we yell at the screen. And that was that
  • Like everyone else, I have no idea how this conflict will end. But I know that the Web will undeniably play a leading role – and that’s not something anyone could’ve imagined back in 1948. As yet another cycle of violence is upon us, that role is worth studying, and it’s that role that I find myself paying attention to the most.
Ed Webb

Arab autocrats use anti-IS Web war to stifle dissent: Report | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • the region’s authoritarian leaders are using the threat of IS propaganda as a pretext to clamp down on online critics
  • “A spate of new anti-terrorism laws around the region have overly broad definitions of terrorism that fail to distinguish between speech that incites violence or promotes extremism and the type of free speech posted by online journalists and human rights activists.”
  • According to the Brookings Institution, a US-based think tank, IS and its supporters ran some 46,000 Twitter accounts last year
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  • “In the UAE, publicly declaring one’s animosity or lack of allegiance to the regime falls under the country’s broad definition of terrorism. Whereas in Saudi Arabia, the same applies to calling for atheist thought.”
  • Globally, internet freedom declined around the world for the fifth year running in 2015, with some governments changing tactics as Web users got better at by-passing state-run controls
  • More than 61 percent of Web users live in countries where criticising the government, military or ruling family is censored online, the report said. Another 58 per cent live in countries where people can be jailed for sharing political, social or religious content online
Ed Webb

Journalists concerned over Qatar's revised cybercrime law - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of th... - 1 views

  • The new law, according to the QNA release, will ban any dissemination via electronic means of “incorrect news” that endangers “the safety of the state, or public order or internal or external security.”

    The law also “stipulates punishment for anyone who exceeds any principles of social values.” The cybercrime legislation would also make illegal the publishing of “news or pictures or audio-video recordings related to the sanctity of the private and family life of individuals, even if they are correct, via libel or slander through the Internet or an IT device.”

  • Despite the presence of Al Jazeera, Qatar’s internal journalism suffers from a lack of protections for journalists, operating under a media law passed in 1979. A revised media law was discussed in 2012 but never passed after criticism that its broad language would stifle good journalism. The advocacy group Freedom House labels Qatar’s press freedom as “not free” and the country is ranked at No. 110 out of 179 in Reporter’s Without Borders’ press freedom rankings
  • Jan Keulen, the former director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, said that enacting the law could “impede the development of online journalism.”

    Keulen told Al-Monitor that Qatar’s new leader, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani — who took over for his father last July — has never mentioned topics such as democracy, elections or press freedom. Meanwhile, Qatar’s news powerhouse Al Jazeera touts these principles throughout the region.

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  • Observers are worried because tightened cybercrime legislation in the United Arab Emirates has been used to prosecute dissenting speech seen on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
  • Qatar’s Twitter community is relatively robust with many commentators taking to the social media platform to complain about aspects of government services. However, no one has directly questioned or challenged the emir’s rule. Unlike other Gulf countries, the Qatari government has not arrested anyone for their social media speech.
  • Just last week, two Emiratis were convicted for violating a law that made it a crime to “damage the national unity or social peace or prejudice the public order and public morals.” The government also convicted 69 citizens of sedition last year and prosecuted two Emiratis for spreading “false news” about that trial.
  • Qatar’s move to pass cybercrime legislation could also be a nod to assuage security concerns of its neighbors. Earlier in March, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar. They announced that country needed to “take the appropriate steps to ensure the security of the GCC states.”
Ed Webb

Erdogan: Turkey freer than some EU states - Europe - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • "These regulations do not impose any censorship at all on the internet. On the contrary, they make it safer and freer."
  • Human Rights Watch said the restrictions raised concerns that a "defensive government is seeking to increase its power to silence critics and to arbitrarily limit politically damaging material online".

    Martin Schulz, European Parliament chief, called them a "step back in an already suffocating environment for media freedom", while the US also expressed misgivings.

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Ed Webb

Off the record? Why online publishers should be careful with the delete key - 1 views

  • When I noticed their disappearance a few weeks ago I wrote to Huffington, asking the reason, and so far I have had no reply.

    Although deleted web pages can sometimes be retrieved from web archives such as Wayback, that is only feasible if you know they once existed and have the relevant URL.

    I'm not suggesting that articles on the internet should never be deleted or changed but that it should not be done lightly, and when it does happen, publishers should be prepared to justify their decisions in public.

    When I worked at the Guardian there were strict rules about this because it understood the need to have a record of published material that was as complete and un-tampered-with as possible. Once published, articles could be removed only  in very special circumstances (such as legal requirements) and if something was changed (because of factual errors, for example), readers had to be made aware of the change and when it happened.

    If we don't want to end up in book-burning territory, that is how it should be.

  • When I noticed their disappearance a few weeks ago I wrote to Huffington, asking the reason, and so far I have had no reply.

    Although deleted web pages can sometimes be retrieved from web archives such as Wayback, that is only feasible if you know they once existed and have the relevant URL.

    I'm not suggesting that articles on the internet should never be deleted or changed but that it should not be done lightly, and when it does happen, publishers should be prepared to justify their decisions in public.

    When I worked at the Guardian there were strict rules about this because it understood the need to have a record of published material that was as complete and un-tampered-with as possible. Once published, articles could be removed only  in very special circumstances (such as legal requirements) and if something was changed (because of factual errors, for example), readers had to be made aware of the change and when it happened.

    If we don't want to end up in book-burning territory, that is how it should be.

  • There's no doubt that today's social media contain a welter of trivia, often of no interest to anyone except the person who is posting. To view social media entirely in that light, however, is to grossly underestimate their power and importance. Social media also provide a running commentary on major events – through the eyes of ordinary people rather than elites. 

    There is no precedent for this. For the first time in history we have a vast public record of what masses of people are saying and thinking. This can be a valuable resource for current and future generations of researchers – if we preserve it intact.

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  • Visitors to Huffington's website last May could have seen 
    this page (preserved here by the Wayback Machine) which lists Narwani's articles. Look at the same page today and they have all been deleted except for one which she co-authored with someone else. It's as if the other articles never existed.
  • concern about Facebook's deletion of various pages connected with the Syrian opposition, possibly at the behest of pro-Assad elements. Some of them have been listed by Felim McMahon of Storyful and the blogger, Brown Moses.

    McMahon points out that some of these have helped Storyful to corroborate (or not) various claims about the Syrian conflict, while Brown Moses notes that "nearly every Facebook page" reporting on the chemical attacks in Damascus last August has now gone.

    Alongside the fighting on the ground, there's also a propaganda war being fought over Syria – mostly via the internet. At first sight this might seem like a sideshow but, as in all wars, it's an integral part of the conflict.

    One individual heavily involved in the Syrian propaganda war on the pro-Assad side, through Twitter and various websites, is Sharmine Narwani (who I have written about previously, here
    here, here, and here).

    Among other things, Narwani wrote a dozen highly contentious articles for Huffington Post, some of them about Syria. Whether you like them or agree with them is beside the point. Whatever their merits or de-merits, they were examples of the sort of arguments being used by Assad supporters and the fact that Huffington, a major American website, saw fit to publish them at the time is also interesting and relevant. 

  • I'm not suggesting that articles on the internet should never be deleted or changed but that it should not be done lightly, and when it does happen, publishers should be prepared to justify their decisions in public.
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