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News seen on the web and about the web. From Monday to Friday at 8.20 am Paris time.

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Latest update : 2011-01-09

Tunisians are looking for ways to get around web censorship

Tunisians are looking for ways to get around web censorship. Online impersonation is now a crime in California and punishable by imprisonment. And a site which converts social network posts into news articles.

ONLINE MOBILIZATION IN TUNISIA

Rap songs denouncing job insecurity, unemployment, corruption and censorship: these tracks are being broadcast by young musicians on the Internet and echo the wave of contestation that is sweeping through Tunisia.

The country has been a hit by a series of protests for three weeks now. Amateur videos of these rallies are circulating online despite some of the sites being blocked. Tunisian web users have given this censorship system the name “Ammar”. The system is being denounced in this video where it is represented by a scissor wielding monster.  

One of the editors of Nawwat.org, Astrubal, even accuses the authorities of hacking into Facebook accounts. This teacher, and anonymous blogger, believes the police are trying to infiltrate and break up the network of web users who are using this social network to discuss the protest movement that begun in Sidi Bouzid last month.

And web users have gained the support of Anonymous in their battle against the censors. This Internet group, known for its operations in support of Wikileaks in particular, recently launched a series of cyber-attacks on sites belonging to the Tunisian government. 

Another operation to help Tunisians get around web censorship is also currently underway. Web users the world over are being asked to connect to a secure network, so that Tunisian web users can use their computers to access a non-censored web.  

CALIFORNIA OUTLAWS ONLINE IMPERSONATION  

On the 1st of January online impersonation became outlawed in California, and anyone breaking this law faces a 1 000 dollar fine and a prison sentence of up to twelve months. This measure is a very popular talking point on the web.

The senator at the origin of this new law, Joe Simitian, says that it could no longer be avoided and online impersonation represents the dark side of social networking. He says the number of victims, named or anonymous, of fake online profiles, has been growing for several years. He thinks it was high time to take action against this scourge.

But some are expressing concerns over this measure. For Corynne McSherry, a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organization, this bill could threaten freedom of expression in the US. She says that comedians parodying celebrities or activists who have created fake profiles on social networks to denounce the actions of a corporation, like with BP and the Louisiana oil spill, could now find themselves banned from expressing their point of view. 

This lawyer does not think the fears are justified and explains that if the tone of the fake profile is quite obviously parodic or satirical and the author has made this clear to web users, then he or she will not be liable. And he reminds people that this bill was adopted to track down cyber bullies and online predators.

And the Taiwanese animation studio NMA.TV has decided to focus its attention on these online predators in this video which describes the measures included in the new law. Here, cyber bullies are depicted as dogs that end up behind bars, whilst the cats, the innocent web users, can finally surf the Internet in peace. 

FACEBOOK IN NUMBERS 

Every 20 minutes, over 1 million links are shared on Facebook. And in the same period of time 2 million 700 000 photos are posted online. These are some of the statistics recently released by Mark Zuckerberg to illustrate just how important his site has become. We also learn that over 43 million of the social network users became single in 2010 or that Lady Gaga is the celebrity with the most fans on Facebook.   

STORIFY 

With Storify you can turn simple posts on social networks into intelligible articles. This new online platform uses a search engine and an interface layout so you can blend tweets, links, images or videos together with a simple click. Each user can put together their own article using these elements. This site could become a new tool in online journalism.

VIDEO OF THE DAY 

When you next visit New York, you might get to see this man performing. He goes under the name of the Human Pretzel. This street artist blends breakdance and circus acrobatics to the great pleasure of passersby. If you are in the vicinity of Union Square then this show is an absolute must.

By Electron Libre

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