Syrian authorities try to control the Internet to help silence the opposition movement. In the US, campaigning intensifies for the release of a soldier held captive by the Taliban. And the Wall Street Journal launches its own version of Wikileaks.
Syrian authorities try to control the Internet
A giant picture of President Bashar al-Assad torn up as crowds cheer on: this amateur footage appears to have been filmed on Saturday in Hama in central Syria. It is being broadcast on social networks where cyber activists have mobilized to share their accounts of the protest movement currently rocking the country.
The regime would like to deprive the opposition of this communication medium. But the authorities are not satisfied with simply censoring the web or cutting access to it. They are taking a leaf out of the protesters book and are going online to express their version of events. On Facebook, the Damascus News Network, which presents itself as a citizen journalist network, hails the army’s intervention in Baniyas, saying it led to the arrests of terrorists in this hotbed of opposition rallies.
And cyber activists meanwhile are accusing the government of hacking in to the famous social network. According to this web user, the government swapped the Facebook security certificate with a fake one, allowing the authorities to steal passwords and obtain access to users’ personal information.
And videos have been uploaded onto YouTube to discredit protesters and foreign media. These images are said to show the authorities seizing drugs which were allegedly distributed to citizens by journalists from Al-Jazeera, the bags are branded with the Al-Jazeera logo.
And the authorities have also set up robot accounts on Twitter, aimed at drowning out information shared by opposition members with links to pictures of Syrian landscapes.
Online mobilization to free Bowe Bergdahl
This poignant message was uploaded onto YouTube on Friday by Robert Bergdahl, the father of Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan in June 2009. He appeals to the Pakistani authorities to do everything they can to find his son who is thought to be held in tribal areas in the country, near to the Afghan border. The video has prompted a revival of online campaigning for his release.
And over the past few days message of support have poured onto this Facebook page, set up for the soldier. Close to 17 500 users have expressed their solidarity with Bowe via this group, and are encouraging his family to continue campaigning and not give up the fight.
And American veterans have also decided to join the battle for Bowe Bergdahl’s release. On this forum, they say that with the death of Bin Laden, his life is now more in danger than ever before, and they are asking fellow citizens to send letters to their elected representatives urging them to take immediate action both for Bowe and all the other American prisoners of war held across the world.
And the prisoner’s support network gets rare pieces of news about him from the web. Since his capture in 2009, the Taliban have released several videos featuring the soldier, like these ones, online. He appears weak, but the footage does give his family hope that he is still alive.
Wall Street Journal launches Wikileaks clone
The Wall Street Journal has released a Wikileaks clone on its web site called “Safe House”. It is aimed at whistleblowing web users who want to anonymously upload sensitive documents. The system claims to be anonymous yet has already received criticism from experts who feel the terms of service do not guarantee contributors absolute confidentiality.
Google Business Photos
After taking and then publishing online, photos of roads and shop windows from all over the world with Google Maps, the American giant is now scheduling photo shoots inside shops, restaurants and other businesses that wish to take part, with Google Business Photos. On the Mountain View Company’s blog, it says the new tool aims to showcase businesses to the rest of world, so they attract new customers and stand out from the competition.
Video of the day
In this video, Tim Knoll, a BMX champion from America, gives an amazing showcase of his sport. Each move is as original as the next and illustrates the talent and technique of this extreme athlete…