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Posts Tagged ‘riots

Egyptian activists organize an e-protest on Facebook and Twitter

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Taking their fight online, as a means of spreading awareness, Egyptians logged on to Twitter and Facebook yesterday in their first official e-protest against the inordinate number of Egyptian citizens who have been tried in the country’s military courts in the past 6 months.

Organized by the Alexandria branch of a group of activists who have been campaigning for months against military trials for civilians, the e-protest was slated to last one hour, but participants continued to tweet and post long after the hour was over.

On Twitter, the hashtag #NoMilTrials was chosen as a way of distinguishing the ‘e-protest.’

On Facebook, an event was created inviting users to participate by commenting on official governmental Facebook pages. The event itself received over 7,000 positive responses, while participants left an avalanche of thousands of comments on the social network.

Participation on Twitter was just as significant, with the hashtag reaching its highest peak yesterday, since it was first used in February.

via Egyptian activists organize an e-protest on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 29, 2011 at 08:51

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Confirmed: Twitter will meet with the UK Govt. for riot talks – TNW UK

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Twitter has confirmed that it will meet with the UK Home Secretary on Thursday, after being called in for discussions over the role it played in the recent riots that blighted many parts of the country.

We reported last Friday that the UK government had finally set a date for the meeting with the major social networks, after promising to do so at an emergency meeting earlier this month.

With the date set for Thursday, 25th of August, only Facebook had initially confirmed that it was attending. But BlackBerry makers RIM later confirmed that it would attend, following the role its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) services reportedly played in helping to organize the riots.

And now a Twitter spokesperson has confirmed to The Next Web that it too will have a representative at the meeting this Thursday, though no official statement was released other than that.

It will be interesting to learn what comes out of the meeting, though as I’ve written previously, I don’t expect there to be too many changes to the status quo.

via Confirmed: Twitter will meet with the UK Govt. for riot talks – TNW UK.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 23, 2011 at 10:35

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Riots put U.K. rights at risk, says WikiLeaks’ Assange

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Taken from The Toronto Star

By Olivia Ward, Foreign Affairs Reporter of The Toronto Star

The looters and rioters who torched Britain’s neighbourhoods are “doing Big Brother” a favour by giving the government more latitude to destroy citizens’ rights and freedoms, says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“Great Britain has turned itself into an Orwellian 1984 during the last decade, yet all those cameras and anti-terror laws could not prevent this recent chaos,” he told the Star from England, where he is awaiting the outcome of his appeal against extradition to Sweden, which wants him for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case.

British Prime Minister David Cameron touched off a fierce debate Thursday by suggesting that the rioters, who have called up mob attacks through social media and instant messaging, could be shut down in cyberspace.

“When people are using social media for violence we need to stop them,” he told the House of Commons. “We are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality.”

The popular BlackBerry Messenger — produced by Canada’s Research in Motion — had given police a new headache because of its closed network, he added: “we’ve got to examine that and know how to keep up with them.”

Some MPs agreed, including Tory Louise Mensch, who tweeted that Cameron’s plans were “common sense” and if Facebook and Twitter were carrying messages that incited violence “the world won’t implode” if they were shut down for an hour or two. BlackBerry earlier announced that it was co-operating with police.

But advocates responded angrily that Cameron was “shooting the messenger,” and covering up the government’s inadequate responses by blaming social media and BlackBerry’s free messaging service that is widely used by younger and poorer Britons.

“The naive public often is ready to sacrifice its privacy, and laws safeguarding basic freedom and rights in exchange for safety, guaranteed by the state,” Assange said. “Now it is clear that governments cannot keep their promises.”

Britain has extensive security laws that date back to the days of IRA terrorism. Surveillance grew in the early 2000s after the 9/11 attacks, and “7/7” assault on London transport that killed 52 people in July 2005. But as the riots spread this week, Cameron said he had asked the police if they needed additional powers.

Assange said the British government was paying the price “for creating a society that denies young people both responsibility, trust and proper challenges,” adding “it is time to rethink rather than restrict things even more. The real problems, which led up to the riots, can only be solved by the whole community, not the government or police.”

While Britons are outraged by the destruction of the riots, many are reluctant to blame the new media.

“Digital technology did play a role in providing rioters with an organizational tool,” said sociologist Frank Furedi of University of Kent. “But the more important factor has been the role of the police or more specifically the disorganization of the institutions of law and order.

“Those who are involved in ‘recreational rioting’ are not abnormal feral youngsters but young people who simply have no stake in their community.”

Experts say that in any case shutting down social media sites or the Internet is unlikely to work.

“The first option requires every social media firm to cooperate with government,” says an article in politics.co.uk. “Even if that were achievable individuals would still be able to create a new account.”

And it said a Chinese-style “final option” of shutting down Internet access to turbulent regions would be so drastic “it would require highly controversial new powers to implement.”

Written by Kees Winkel

August 16, 2011 at 13:25

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UK riots: nine ways to use Twitter responsibly

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Twitter has been awash with false rumour and speculation. How can you cut through the sea of inaccurate tweets and find out what’s really going on?

Twitter has been awash with rumour, as well as useful information. Photograph: Iain Masterton / Alamy

As the riots spread across London and the rest of the country over the last few days, Twitter has been awash with rumour, exaggeration and downright untruth alongside people spreading useful news.

Here are a few simple pointers on how to get the most out of Twitter as news breaks – and how to avoid scaring people in the process.

Unless you can see it happening, don’t tweet about it.

It can be immensely tempting to pass on the vital information that – for instance – Primark in Tooting has burned to the ground. It’s a tremendously sad thought for devotees of leopard-print leggings and cheap handbags in south London, so it’s no surprise that the news spread like wildfire on Monday night.

The problem was that it was entirely untrue, and served only to spread fear among people living there. In this case, there was a pall of smoke hanging over the high street, and people who couldn’t see the source put two and two together and came up with 47 – and then their friends helpfully made things worse by retweeting it.

Bear in mind that some people are making jokes.

This is how the Tooting Primark story began: with people making silly rhyming jokes about stealing in Ealing and looting in Tooting. The problem there is that only one of those things was actually happening at the time, but people latched onto the phrase as though it was true. If you see those sorts of casual references, bear in mind they might just be there to make a punchline. Once again, if you’re not certain, ask.

Continue via UK riots: nine ways to use Twitter responsibly | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 14, 2011 at 12:05

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London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger played a key role

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Taken from The Guardian.

Police looking on Facebook and Twitter for signs of unrest spreading will have missed out – they should have watched BBM

By guardian.co.uk, Monday 8 August 2011 12.24 BST

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park

London riots: a looted O2 mobile phone store in Tottenham Hale retail park. Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features

In October 1985, on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham where the death of Cynthia Jarrett sparked riots that culminated in the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock, a community leader stood on his chair at a packed open-air meeting.

The man bellowed into a megaphone to the 150 residents in front of him: “You tell them that it’s a life for a life from now on. This is war.”

Over whoops and cheers from the residents, he turned to a huddle of police officers standing 50 yards away and warned: “I hope you’re listening. There is no way I am going to condemn the actions of the youth on Sunday night.”

Twenty six years later, police officers are still listening – but the megaphones and open-air meetings have been largely replaced. This weekend’s north London riots, the Daily Mail announced on Monday, were “fuelled by social media“.

But is this necessarily the case?

Certainly, the first online gathering of people mourning – and soon vowing to avenge – the death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan took place on Facebook. Some of those behind the page, which now boasts more than 7,500 fans, launched into action shortly before 10.30pm on Saturday evening – more than five hours after the first public show of protest, outside the police station on Tottenham High Road.

At 10.45pm, when rioters set a double decker bus alight, the pageposted: “Please upload any pictures or video’s you may have from tonight in Tottenham. Share it with people to send the message out as to why this has blown into a riot.”

However, otherwise, if there was any sign that a peaceful protest would escalate, it wasn’t to be found on Facebook. Twitter was slightly more indicative: tweets about an attempt to target Sunday’s Hackney Carnival were spotted by police and the event was abruptly cancelled.

Scotland Yard warned on Monday afternoon that those “inciting violence” on the 140-character social network would not go unpunished. Deputy assistant commissioner Stephen Kavanagh confirmed that officers were looking at the website as part of investigations into widespread looting and rioting.

However, the most powerful and up-to-the-minute rallying appears to have taken place on a more covert social network: BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Using BlackBerry handsets – the smartphone of choice for the majority (37%) of British teens, according to last week’s Ofcom study – BBM allows users to send one-to-many messages to their network of contacts, who are connected by “BBM PINs”. For many teens armed with a BlackBerry, BBM has replaced text messaging because it is free, instant and more part of a much larger community than regular SMS.

And unlike Twitter or Facebook, many BBM messages are untraceable by the authorities (which is why, in large part, BBM is so favoured by Emirati teens to spread illicit gossip about officialdom).

One BBM broadcast sent on Sunday, which has been shown to the Guardian by multiple sources, calls on “everyone from all sides of London” to vandalise shops on Oxford street.

It said: “Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!!, Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds we will send them back with OUR riot! >:O Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother… SALUT! if you see a fed… SHOOT!”

Another sent shortly before the outbreak of violence in Enfield on Sunday afternoon reads: “Everyone in edmonton enfield wood green everywhere in north link up at enfield town station at 4 o clock sharp!”.

Jenny Jones, the former deputy mayor of London, blamed an under-resourced force for missing the tweets and the status updates. “It’s quite possible if they had more resources they could have picked up on this,” she said.

But maybe they were looking in the wrong place. Just as Tottenham residents in 1985 lambasted the media for scaremongering about protesters – the Daily Express suggested some had been trained in Russia – today’s rioters might be surprised to read about “Twitter-organised chaos”.

• To contact the MediaGuardian news desk email editor@mediaguardian.co.uk or phone 020 3353 3857. For all other inquiries please call the main Guardian switchboard on 020 3353 2000. If you are writing a comment for publication, please mark clearly “for publication”.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 10, 2011 at 10:03

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