The Chinese authorities using social networks to spread propaganda. Web users campaigning for women’s rights in the Arab World. And Barack Obama singing MC Hammer’s « U Can’t Touch This ».
China’s propaganda machine hits the web
The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is underway in Beijing, and Chinese web users often find themselves playing a game of cat and mouse with the censors. The authorities are displaying a certain unease during this period of political transition, and the list of blocked key words, which includes names of China’s top officials, can give an insight into the issues the government deem to be too sensitive.
Sites like Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, and local companies have developed similar services that are easier to monitor. Yes, Beijing is well aware of the influence of social networks and is even trying to use them as a propaganda tool.
For the 18th Congress, the Xinhua News Agency, China’s official press agency has set up a platform compiling tweets from state media journalists covering the event.
Communist Party officials are being encouraged to interact with citizens via social networks. Shu Bin for example has posted a series of photos from the 18th National Congress on his blog, but doesn’t give any details on how the leadership transition is progressing.
The Chinese authorities have even hired an army of web users to post pro-regime comments on the web in a bid to guide public opinion. These Internet commentators have been dubbed the “50 cent Party” in reference to the 50 Chinese cents they are said to be paid for each favorable post.
"The uprising of women in the Arab world"
« I’m with the uprising of women in the Arab world because for 20 years I was not allowed to feel the wind in my hair ». This message was written by Dana Bakdounis, a Syrian woman who has posed for this photo with an unveiled face. The image was posted to Facebook at the end of October as part of a campaign supporting the emancipation of women in the Arab World.
It proved to be a highly controversial photo, and was taken down by the social network after web users reporting it for being “insulting”. But cyber militants were outraged by the removal of the photo and took to social media platforms, posting messages of support for the Syrian woman under the hashtag “Wind to Dana”.
One week later, the photo reappeared, along with hundreds of others, on the “Uprising of Women in the Arab World” Facebook page. The initiative was launched by five women’s rights activists from Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to encourage women to stand up for their rights, which remain restricted despite the revolutions of the Arab Spring.
The Facebook campaign has drawn over 60,000 likes from web users worldwide, and continues to grow, with new photos uploaded every day. Women, and men, posing with posters carrying handwritten messages; Wissam from Tunisia for example hopes that when her son is an adult, he continues to respect her.
New Megaupload to be launched in January 2013
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is set to launch a new file-sharing site on the 19th January 2013, a year to the day his former site was shut down over copyright infringement. The new service will be hosted at Me.ga, a Gabon-based domain name, and Libreville is none too pleased. Gabon has blocked access to the Megaupload successors intended domain name saying the country could not serve as a platform for Internet piracy. Kim Dotcom remains undeterred however and claims to have an alternative solution.
Instagram jumps from mobile to web
Up until now photo sharing app Instagram had been a mobile-device only experience, but the firm which was bought by Facebook earlier on this year has announced via its website that it will soon be expanding to the web, so users of this new online service will be able to set up a profile and post and share photos with friend’s in a similar fashion to the network created by Mark Zuckerberg, news that will no doubt, please ‘connected’ photography enthusiasts everywhere.
Video of the day
In this video Fadi Saleh, a web user and skilled music editor, has taken extracts from speeches delivered by Barack Obama to recreate the MC Hammer hit from the nineties “U can’t touch this”; an original and fun way of celebrating the re-election of the US President…