Social Media: Threat to or Tool of Authoritarianism? (Harvard International Review)

Harvard International Review: Social Media: Threat to or Tool of Authoritarianism?. “Given the growing weight of social media’s influence on society, the key question is whether social media will become a sentinel against systematic oppression and injustice, effectively posing a serious challenge to authoritarian regimes. In the case of China, while social media may not have the power to cause a regime change, it will, in coming years, challenge the government’s ironclad authority and lack of accountability to its people. This clearly manifests in times of crisis, most recently, with the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.”

CNBC: Zoom will no longer allow Chinese government requests to impact users outside mainland China

CNBC: Zoom will no longer allow Chinese government requests to impact users outside mainland China . “Video-calling service Zoom said Thursday it will not comply with requests from the Chinese government to suspend hosts or block people from meetings if those people are not located in mainland China.”

Egypt: Female social media influencers under attack (North Africa Journal)

North Africa Journal: Egypt: Female social media influencers under attack. “Young Egyptian women with thousands of followers each on the popular TikTok app have become the latest target of state authorities who accuse them of spreading ‘immorality’ in society. Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014, hundreds of journalists, activists, lawyers and intellectuals have been arrested and many websites blocked in the name of state security. But in recent months a popular group of female social media ‘influencers’ has also drawn the ire of the government, and several have been arrested in a crackdown cheered by many in the deeply conservative country. “

International Business Times: After Silencing Coronavirus Whistleblowers, China Now Detains Citizens Documenting Outbreak

International Business Times: After Silencing Coronavirus Whistleblowers, China Now Detains Citizens Documenting Outbreak. “Doriane Lau, from Hong Kong, is a researcher for Amnesty International, a human rights advocacy organization that was formed in 1961. She told the Financial Times about the Chinese Communist government, ‘The [Chinese] government has been trying to control the circulation of information and build a narrative that hides the wrongdoing of the government. Curbing freedom of expression and press . . . only fuels frustration and blocks people’s access to information that can be crucial for fighting COVID-19.'”

Slate: Vietnam’s Government Is Using COVID-19 to Crack Down on Freedom of Expression

Slate: Vietnam’s Government Is Using COVID-19 to Crack Down on Freedom of Expression. “Though many Asian nations are dealing with very serious outbreaks, Vietnam appears to be one of the most successful in halting the spread of the infection. As of May 8, it has reported just 288 cases, 241 recoveries, and a remarkable zero deaths. While there have been suspicions that China may be underreporting its infected and death rates, there have not been any major accusations of Vietnam doing the same. In fact, many media outlets have praised the Vietnamese government’s aggressive measures, which have included early restrictions on travel, quarantining affected villages, providing free masks, and even writing viral songs. However, the efforts to fight COVID-19 misinformation and fake news online, including with a law enacted in April, reveal the darker side to public awareness efforts in Vietnam—one that stems from a long history of censorship and authoritarianism.”

Balkan Insight: Turkish Plan to Muzzle Social Media Delayed by Pandemic

Balkan Insight: Turkish Plan to Muzzle Social Media Delayed by Pandemic. “As Turkey, like the rest of the world, struggles with the coronavirus pandemic, its government plans to take another step to further restrict digital rights in the country. A draft law will create new responsibilities for answering the government’s demands on their content for social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Messenger.”

The Diplomat: Pakistan’s Government and Military Are Crushing Dissent on Social Media

The Diplomat: Pakistan’s Government and Military Are Crushing Dissent on Social Media. “Even before the new rules, the digital situation in Pakistan was already quite authoritarian. That can easily be conveyed by the ranking given to Pakistan in the Freedom on the Net report compiled annually by Freedom House. For many years, the country has been ranked among the worst countries of the world on that index; Pakistan was among the 10 worst countries of the 65 surveyed in the 2019 Freedom on the Net report.”

Washington Post: It wasn’t just the National Archives. The Library of Congress also balked at a Women’s March photo.

Washington Post: It wasn’t just the National Archives. The Library of Congress also balked at a Women’s March photo.. “The Library of Congress abandoned plans last year to showcase a mural-size photograph of demonstrators at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington because of concerns it would be perceived as critical of President Trump, according to emails obtained by The Washington Post.”

New Atlas: Social media surveillance drives 2019 drop in global internet freedom

New Atlas: Social media surveillance drives 2019 drop in global internet freedom. “An annual report tracking internet freedom across the world has found global declines for the ninth consecutive year. Underpinned by domestic election interference and social media surveillance, the report identified internet freedom deterioration in more than half of the 65 countries assessed.”

Engadget: China internet rules call for algorithms that recommend ‘positive’ content

Engadget: China internet rules call for algorithms that recommend ‘positive’ content. “China is once more tightening its grip on internet content, and this time algorithms are in the spotlight. The Cyberspace Administration of China has published upcoming rules that dictate how internet companies manage content, including a push for recommendation algorithms that promote ‘positive’ ideas (read: government policies) while excluding ‘bad’ material.”

France24: In Algeria, political cartoonists turn to social media to protest repression

France24: In Algeria, political cartoonists turn to social media to protest repression. “Since the beginning of the popular protest movement in Algeria, press cartoonists have supported it by publishing their satirical images on social networks. But after the conviction of one of their own and the election of Abdelmadjid Tebboune as president, they fear increased repression.”

Outlook India: Govts using new tactics to confuse social media dissidents

Outlook India: Govts using new tactics to confuse social media dissidents. “Governments the world over are learning new tactics to quash dissent on various social media platforms, responding with tweets designed to distract and confuse like longer hashtags, according to a team of political scientists.”

Michigan Engineer News Center: New tool combats evolving internet censorship methods

Michigan Engineer News Center: New tool combats evolving internet censorship methods. “Over half of Internet users globally now live in countries that block political, social, or religious content online. On top of that, the many popular tools and techniques for circumventing this censorship have been made ineffective by new methods used to block them or the infrastructure they rely on. Refraction Networking, an approach pioneered by Michigan researchers, is one of the most promising new approaches to circumventing these measures.”

Slate: Is Hong Kong the Battleground for a New Cyber Cold War?

Slate: Is Hong Kong the Battleground for a New Cyber Cold War?. ” In Hong Kong, where Beijing’s political sovereignty does not come with direct control over the internet or local police, Beijing is reluctant to active the most draconian option: deployment of the People’s Liberation Army to keep order in Hong Kong’s streets. While this could be done lawfully, it would be catastrophic—for global investor confidence, the regime’s credibility, and the assets of party elites and state-backed firms that rely on Hong Kong’s financial institutions. Instead, Beijing is exploring other options.”

Life in an Internet Shutdown: Crossing Borders for Email and Contraband SIM Cards (New York Times)

New York Times: Life in an Internet Shutdown: Crossing Borders for Email and Contraband SIM Cards. “The shutdowns do more than stunt the democratic process. They can batter whole economies and individual businesses, as well as drastically disrupt the daily life of ordinary citizens, turning the search for mobile service into a game of cat and mouse with the police and driving people across borders just to send emails for work.”