Stories from Quick Reads and Digital Activism
London based Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad won the 2015 Women's Rights Award at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy for her Facebook page “My Stealthy Freedom” this past week. The page invites Iranian women to post pictures of themselves with a Hijab, in defiance of Iran's Islamic laws that enforce compulsory hijab. With over 750, 000 followers, this page has been considered something of social media movement for Iranian women.
Below is a video her page posted from her acceptance speech at the Summit this past Tuesday:
In Defiance of Ebola Rumors, Support for The National Team at 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Spreads to Guinean Social Networks
Supporters took to dusty streets across the country to show their joy when the team qualified for the quarter finals, after a match whose result at the expense of Mali only came the day after the final whistle, when lots were drawn in a hotel room.
Guinea is one of the three countries most affected by the fever epidemic brought on by the Ebola virus. Although Morocco refused to host the African Cup of Nations due to the risks posed by the arrival of supporters from the infected region, it allowed the Sily National (National Elephant), the nickname given to the Guinean national team, to make their home on Moroccan soil for the preparation stages.
Drawn in a group where their chances of qualifying for the quarter finals were seen as minimal right from the start, they managed to knock out Mali against all expectations, after an epic match which ended in a draw. The two teams had to be separated by the drawing of lots in a hotel room the day after the match. For a nation with few opportunities to come together because of political difficulties and the hardship of the Ebola virus, everybody began to support the national team. Social network messaging went viral. It's a fever which has taken over a whole nation, and goes beyond the world of sport.
In a post titled “How can we explain the infatuation with Guinea's Sily National?“, a blogger called ”cireass” analyses the reasons for this fever, on his blog Southern Rivers: A Look at Guinea, part of the mondoblog.org network:
Après une campagne de qualification délocalisée à l’extérieur du pays (au Maroc) pour cause d’Ebola qui frappe la Guinée depuis fin 2013, le Sily National de Guinée s’est qualifié non pas sans humiliation lors de ses déplacements dans des pays qui voyaient toute une nation porteuse du virus Ebola. De quoi ‘séduire’ plus d’un de ses supporteurs…
La dernière raison qui pourrait expliquer cet appui, ce sont les réseaux; précisément la tendance selfie. Oubliez la période où Internet représentait un luxe pour les Guinéens. De nos jours, en dépit du problème récurrent d’électricité, la plupart des personnes de la tranche d'âge 15-30 ans disposent d’un compte sur Facebook. Et la tendance du moment, c’est de poster un selfie avec un dérivé du Sily (maillot, bracelet, bonnet, etc.) sur Facebook, Instagram ou Twitter. Ces milliers de photos donnent l’image d’une équipe soutenue par tout un peuple.
After a qualification campaign relocated abroad (in Morroco) due to Ebola, which struck Guinea at the end of 2013, the qualification of Guinea's Sily National was not without humilation, as it was forced to decamp to countries as many of its neighbors regarded the whole Guinean nation as a vast carrier of the Ebola virus. This aggravation was certainly “attractive” to more than a few of its supporters.
Social networks are the final possible reason for this support, specifically the selfie trend. Forget the time when Guineans saw the internet as a luxury. These days, despite persistent electricity problems, the majority of people in the 15-30 age bracket have a Facebook account. And the current trend is posting a selfie with Sily National merchandise (shirt, wristband, cap etc.) on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Thousands of these photos create an image of a team supported by the whole population.
Korean Air Lines vice president has made numerous headlines, both locally and internationally, for her arrogant behavior on a recent flight out. She randomly accused a crew member of serving macadamia nuts ‘incorrectly’ and even she ordered a plane back to the gate to remove the crew member out of the plane. No wonder this sensational story has become one of the trending topics in social media. Among numerous internet jokes, parody photos and even a cartoon by Japanese users, one stood out most would be a game mocking the Airplane nuts fiasco. A Korean web developer, Tai-hwan Hah (@duecorda) made a simple game entitlted ‘Crew Members’ Tycoon’ [ko]. However you play, you get the same result of the crew member being yelled at and hearing the sentence ‘You! Get out of the plane!’ — the very word the vice president allegedly said to the crew.
During the economic and political crisis in Argentina in 2001, people shouted in the streets, “Go to hell, everyone (rulers)!” More than a decade after these events, this popular cry was transformed into a digital tool that allows voters to learn about the political background of their candidates. On Infoactivismo, there is a piece about the project Cargografías (roughly translated as Position-ography):
El objetivo es brindar información a la ciudadanía para la toma de decisiones durante periodos electorales y ser un recurso de utilidad para periodistas e investigadores, quienes a partir de la herramienta podrán construir sus propias historias y apoyar sus proyectos de investigación.
The aim is to give information to the constituency for decision making during election periods and serve as a useful resource for journalists and researchers, who will be able to build their own stories and support their investigation projects using the tool.
The tool allows to analyze the political career of public officers in the last 30 years and document situations that might not be found in a regular Internet search.
Project founder Andrés Snitcofsky explains his intention was to show that many officers who were in office in 2001 are still there in spite of people's complaints. Although the information already existed, until now it wasn't collected in one place. So, Cargografías began with a Google Doc and a group of friends who organized the available information that was available on their own time. That database is now available on Popit.
Political activism is not exclusively reserved for young people and adults. This was demonstrated by Sofia, an 11-year-old Mexican girl who decided to collect signatures calling for the resignation of the president of her country, Enrique Peña Nieto. These are her reasons.
Peña Nieto has not responded as he should have to the families of the missing students, he went to China and he has a house costing 80 million pesos (approximately 5.88 million dollars).
This initiative caused many positive reactions. For example, some decided to sign in order to demonstrate to Sofia and other Mexican children (as well as adults) that having a better country is possible, and to remind those who govern that people placed them there and that the people can remove them. Sofia's mother said:
Yo no tengo idea de cómo se destituye a un presidente. Pero ojalá pueda de verdad llevar esas hojas a alguna parte que ayude a Sofía a sentir que su esfuerzo vale la pena, que lo intentamos a toda costa. Fui incapaz de decirle que no lo hiciera, que era casi imposible. No puedo cortarle las alas. Esta generación viene con fuerza, con fe y determinación, y con un concepto de lo que es decente y justo que ya quisieran muchos para un fin de semana.
I don't know how to dismiss a president. But, hopefully one can take those papers somewhere so that Sofia can feel that her efforts were worth it, that we tried at all costs. I was unable to tell her not to do it because it was almost impossible. I couldn't cut her wings. This generation is full of strength with faith and determination, and with a concept of what is decent, something that many want for a weekend.
The petition was placed on the Change.org platform and already has 10,500 signatures at the time of this post.
Since the disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa last September, a group of citizens driven by Mexican journalist and producer Epigmenio Ibarra has decided to prevent the case from being forgotten by conducting a roll call of the names of each student every day at 10 p.m. Mexico Central Time.
Mexicans and foreigners alike have joined this initiative both within and outside of the country.
— Ara-Ídem (@5AraCoelli) January 27, 2015
We say their names every night. We will continue doing so until we conquer truth and get justice.
Each name is normally accompanied by an illustration from the Illustrators for Ayotzinapa movement to keep the memory of the students humanized. Some also add the phrase “Because if we forget, they win” to remind people about the importance of maintaining their memory alive.
— Sussan Buendia (@Buendia_Tunel) February 3, 2015
No to closing the case. We're going to push harder, we will cast a shadow over EPN. 10pm Roll call.
The roll call continues to gain traction.
— Alejandro T (@birkut) February 4, 2015
The daily roll call by @epigmenioibarra continues to get up to 500RTs per student.
Cada noche los RTs del pase de lista del 1 al 43 alcanza a miles en sus TLs, es otra pequeña marcha que acompaña. Sigamos juntos.
— Compa Salces (@carlossalces) January 27, 2015
Each night, RTs of the roll call from 1 to 43 reaches thousands in their TLs. It's another small protest accompanying the efforts. Let's continue together.
And every day there is a call to join this roll call where the following hashtags, relevant to the movement, are included: #YaMeCansé (#TiredofThis), #AcciónGlobalporAyotzinapa (#GlobalActionforAyotzinapa), #NosFaltan43 (#We'reMissing43), among others.
— Compa MariaIsabel (@wixaritari) February 4, 2015
Group: Those against apathy and neglect and because #We'reMissing43, let's join the roll call #WeAreAllAyotzinapa with @epigmenioibarra
— Frank (@frankcjc) January 30, 2015
Those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. Ready for the roll call with @epigmenioibarra
As the world watches Russian soldiers and Russian-backed separatists occupy Ukrainian administration buildings, cities, and even an entire peninsula, a group of Ukrainian hackers is fighting back by launching an invasion of their own.
Since this summer, Ukrainian hacker Yevgeniy Dokukin and his group of fellow computer pros calling themselves Ukrainian Cyber Forces have carried out “Operation Bond, James Bond,” in which they leaked web camera and security footage from Crimea, separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, and even government offices in Russia. Dokukin and the Ukrainian Cyber Forces have been leaking videos from cameras for months now, including a video supposedly from a separatist base in Donetsk.
A few weeks ago, Dokukin and his allies took up new weapons in their cyberwar: printers. In a series of Facebook posts, Dokukin has explained how, after accessing private WiFi networks, the Ukrainian Cyber Forces were able to print documents on vulnerable networked printers in various offices in Crimea and separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine, and were now trying to do the same in Russian networks.
— MustLive (@MustLiveUA) December 8, 2014
#UkrainianCyberForces have begun occupying networked printers in Donbas and in Crimea.
As Dokukin told RuNet Echo, he sees the wasted ink and paper in Russia as a variant on Ukraine’s own “economic sanctions” aimed at its neighbor. The messages appearing on these printers vary, but they share a common theme:
Якщо ваш мережевий принтер передасть “вітання Путіну” чи надрукує “Слава Україні!” та інші цікаві надписи, то знайте, що він під нашим контролем.
If your network printer passes along “greetings to Putin” or prints “Glory to Ukraine!” or other interesting messages, then you know that it is under our control.
Not all of Dokukin’s printer messages were meant to be confrontational. Recently, the Ukrainian Cyber Forces accessed an open network printer in Canada—an especially strong ally of Ukraine throughout the ongoing crisis—and printed the message “Thanks for supporting Ukraine!” in English.
As Russia increases its support of information warfare, including slick redesigns of its news agencies and propping up fake Ukrainian news sites, Ukrainian Cyber Forces are taking the trolling and information war to their opponents—and their offices—more directly.
Vero Flores Desentis, blogging for Mujeres Construyendo (Women Building), reflects on Internet users’ behavior regarding the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa and rubs salt in the wound of those of us who use cyberspace for worthy causes, and calls us to an in-depth examination of our conscience: are denouncing and indignation on the Internet enough to make a change or do they just represent a simple catharsis? Thus, the author points out the duality of Internet denunciation regarding the events in Ayotzinapa:
Creo que es un tema que duele a la sociedad, y duele mucho. Lo que me sorprende es la dualidad de la denuncia social. Por un lado, cada vez tenemos más acceso a plataformas que nos sirven para denunciar o para establecer públicamente algún posicionamiento frente a un tema, y cada vez somos más las personas que las utilizamos. Y estas denuncias son una herramienta muy poderosa de denuncia social sin duda. Pero por otro, la denuncia ahí se queda, no hay un eco de ejecución que realmente ayude a disminuir los casos que lamentablemente siguen sucediendo.
I think this is something that hurts society. What amazes me is the duality of social denunciation. On one hand, each time we have more access to platforms that allow us to denounce or set publicly some position about a given topic, and each time more people use them. And these condemnations are a very powerful tool for social denunciation. Burt on the other hand, the denounce just stays there, there is no echo of carrying out that really helps reducing the cases that, unfortunately, keep coming.
Vero adds that just as in other disturbing cases, social networks channel our outrage about Ayotzinapa, although making it public doesn't change the situation. To change something, we must act outside the cybernetic world, changing our actions.
You can follow Vero Flores Desentis on Twitter.
Some renowned journalists in Mozambique have accounts on various social networks, but they do not believe in their potential to influence decision-making, government action or social participation among others. However, the government itself has recognised their utility by creating accounts on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp. Here are three recent examples where social networks have knocked on the door of accountability and governance in Mozambique.
1. In November 2013, a letter by Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco circulated on Facebook criticising the method of government used by Armando Emílio Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique. As a result, the author of the letter was summoned to testify before the Attorney General on May 26, 2014.
2. When the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA) offered a Mercedes Benz S350 to the President of the Republic, José Jaime Macuane, a university lecturer at the Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, immediately wrote a post on Facebook explaining that the act violated the Public Probity Law. The issue made the headlines of various newspapers and was discussed all over the country for over a week, even once the Mercedes had been returned three days later.
3. To promote citizenship, transparency and active participation by citizens, Olho do Cidadão (Citizen's Eye), which is led by Fernanda Lobato and Tomás Queface, developed digital platform Txeka to allow citizens to participate directly in observing elections on October 15 via SMS, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and email. This culminated in the creation of a situation room, comprising various civil society institutions and academicians, as well as a partnership with STV – an independent television channel – which hosted the broadest real-time coverage of the event, using the information sent by citizens via the Txeka channels.
In spite of the fact that in Mozambique, just 4.3% of the population has access to the Internet, the citizen reporter's perspective is valid and useful. Debates on social networks can influence government actions to a certain extent.
The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).
This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.
Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:
The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.