Although the TikTok was intended exclusively for students in the Clark County School District, it ended up going viral, in large part because it was shared on Twitter by social media producer and podcaster Klaudia Amenabar. As of publication, it has racked up more than 36,000 likes and 780 comments, and has prompted other CCSD students on TikTok to join Sullivan’s call to strike.
China paradox in Australia? Take a look. Pro-China protestors in the country enjoying democratic freedoms – including speech and assembly – by harassing pro-#HongKong protestors who want to protect own similar democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. 🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️ #HongKongProtests#antiELABhttps://t.co/yDBpA5rG02
Chinese government uses WeChat to spy on everyone who uses it, and they use it in the same way Facebook uses fake news to mobilize far right groups. Hong Kong protestors avoid it like the plague https://t.co/KIvK7FyUHP
until recently, broadcasting and publishing were difficult and expensive affairs, their infrastructures riddled with bottlenecks and concentrated in a few hands.
When protests broke out in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, a single livestreamer named Mustafa Hussein reportedly garnered an audience comparable in size to CNN’s for a short while. If a Bosnian Croat war criminal drinks poison in a courtroom, all of Twitter knows about it in minutes.
In today’s networked environment, when anyone can broadcast live or post their thoughts to a social network, it would seem that censorship ought to be impossible. This should be the golden age of free speech.
And sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can believe your lying eyes. Is that footage you’re watching real? Was it really filmed where and when it says it was? Is it being shared by alt-right trolls or a swarm of Russian bots? My note: see the ability to create fake audio and video footage: http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2017/07/15/fake-news-and-video/
HERE’S HOW THIS golden age of speech actually works: In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.
at their core, their business is mundane: They’re ad brokers
They use massive surveillance of our behavior, online and off, to generate increasingly accurate, automated predictions of what advertisements we are most susceptible to and what content will keep us clicking, tapping, and scrolling down a bottomless feed.
in reality, posts are targeted and delivered privately, screen by screen by screen. Today’s phantom public sphere has been fragmented and submerged into billions of individual capillaries. Yes, mass discourse has become far easier for everyone to participate in—but it has simultaneously become a set of private conversations happening behind your back. Behind everyone’s backs.
It’s important to realize that, in using these dark posts, the Trump campaign wasn’t deviantly weaponizing an innocent tool. It was simply using Facebook exactly as it was designed to be used. The campaign did it cheaply, with Facebook staffers assisting right there in the office, as the tech company does for most large advertisers and political campaigns.
As governments around the world impose new restrictions on internet freedom, it is worth remembering what is at stake. The present crackdown comes as digital platforms are being used in new and creative ways to advocate for change and, in many cases, save lives. Internet advocacy had real-world results in both democracies and authoritarian settings over the past year, and its impact was often most pronounced in countries where the information environment was more open online than off. In over two-thirds of the countries examined in this study, there was at least one significant example of individuals producing a tangible outcome by using online tools to fight for internet freedom, demand political accountability, advance women’s rights, support victims of unjust prosecution, or provide relief to those affected by natural disasters.
Fighting for internet freedom and digital rights
Social media were used effectively to fight for internet freedom in a variety of countries over the past year. In Thailand, over 150,000 people signed a Change.org petition against a government plan to centralize the country’s internet gateways, which would strengthen the authorities’ ability to monitor and censor online activity. As a result, the government announced that it had scrapped the plan, though skeptical internet users remain vigilant.
Using the hashtag #NoToSocialMediaBill, Nigerian digital rights organizations launched a multifaceted campaign to defeat a “Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill” that threatened to constrain speech on social media. Alongside significant digital media activism, civil society groups organized a march on the National Assembly, gathered signatures for a petition presented during a public hearing on the bill, and filed a lawsuit at the Federal High Court in Lagos, all of which contributed to the bill’s withdrawal in May 2016. India’s telecommunications regulator banned differential pricing schemes in February after more than a million comments were submitted online to protest companies that charge consumers different prices for select content or applications.
Truth and Power, the final episode of which airs tonight on Pivot. Directed by Brian Knappenberger.
Knappenberger, who directed the feature-length documentary The Internet’s Own Boy, about the late Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz.
Social Media Has Helped Activists Reclaim the Narrative
it’s not just activists who are benefiting from new technologies. Knappenberger spends nearly half the series carefully explaining the myriad ways governments and corporations use digital tools to surveil social movements. From examining the cell-phone tracking technologies used by law enforcement to uncovering how repressive regimes work with American tech companies to thwart social movements, the series offers up a smart meditation on the threat of digital surveillance on political dissent
It’s a problem Knappenberger illustrates in the “Activists or Terrorists” episode, where he unpacks how “Ag-gag” laws were passed under pressure from corporate lobbying and have made it illegal to film or photograph inside any animal farm without consent of the facility’s owner.
“Prisoners for Sale,” the seventh episode, explores the story of two inmates-turned-journalists who started an independent publication to document systemic failures of the prison industrial complex.
More on technology and civil disobedience in this IMS blog
Meanwhile, Telegram said it only takes steps against confirmed ISIS channels. “For example, if criticizing the government is illegal in a country, Telegram won’t be a part of such politically motivated censorship,” the company said. “While we do block terrorist (e.g. ISIS-related) bots and channels, we will not block anybody who peacefully expresses alternative opinions.”