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Quick Reads + Digital Activism

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Latest stories from Quick Reads + Digital Activism

The “Happy Voting” Project Encourages Young Europeans to Vote

Drawing on the Pharrell Williams worldwide hit “Happy” and the associated equally renown music video (over 143 million views on YouTube), the Brussels-based film company Full Tunes Production has recently launched on facebook an enthusiastic project  called “Happy Voting“ that strives to encourage voting for the next European elections.

The project can also be found on their website and on twitter (@HappyVoting).

Because of  the economic and financial crisis that undermines consumer confidence since 2007 in Europe and the political struggle that the European Union experiences to assert its political relevance on international issues such as the crises in Syria and in Crimea, many observers fear that voters’ participation will reach new low in the next European elections. Raphael Da Silva for Rue89 Strasbourg blog notes [fr] that in the 2009 European elections, 59.5% of French voters did not vote. The Happy Voting Project claims to be an independent initiative that only aims to promote voting, specifically amongst the european youth. Over 12.9 thousand people have already been invited to participate via facebook. The idea is to collaboratively produce a remake of the original “Happy” clip and help buzz the release of the video. Here is the teaser of the Happy Voting video: 

Creator of Quirky Movement Defends Kremlin Propagandist

A “Monstration” demonstrator in Novosibirsk, in 2011.

Artyom Loskutov, creator of the popular counter-culture art movement “Monstration” [see Global Voices report], made waves on RuNet by signing a letter in support of Dmitry Kiselyov, a journalist who many consider to be Putin's chief propagandist. Loskutov was one of several dozen Russian journalists who signed the letter [ru], which asks pointed questions about recent EU sanctions imposed against Kiselyov, and whether such sanctions constitute an attack on free speech.

Loskutov works for TV Rain, an opposition TV station currently facing financial difficulties because of censorship, and so seems like an odd candidate to voice support for Kiselyov. Popular photo-blogger Rustem Adagamov even tweeted [ru] that he wants to cancel his subscription to TV Rain and get his money back because of Loskutov's position. Loskutov defended himself in a Facebook post [ru], saying that his signature was not in support of Kiselyov, but rather in support of the principle of free speech and the rights of journalists. Many of his readers argued that free speech should not apply to “propagandists” like Kiselyov, launching personal attacks against Loskutov and continuing a long tradition of Russian liberal intelligentsia seeking out fifth columnists in their own ranks.

Brazilian Congress Approves Pioneering Bill of Rights for Internet Users

Marco Civil has finally been approved in the lower house of Brazil's Congress and next should be voted in Senate. The bill of rights for Internet users became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, following a large-scale campaign that was promoted during the day of the vote, March 25, 2014, under the hashtags #MarcoCivil and #EuQueroMarcoCivil (I want Marco Civil).

The current version [pdf] of the bill preserves the provisions of net neutrality, freedom of expression and users privacy.

Former Minister of Culture, and famous musician, Gilberto Gil, who gave a face to Avaaz's petition “For a free and democratic Internet“, tweeted:  

We won! #MarcoCivil approved!! For a neutral web, freedom of expression and protection of privacy!

For Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web 25 years ago, this is “the best possible birthday gift for Brazilian and global Web users”. In a statement of support released on the eve of the vote he said the approval of Marco Civil “will help to usher in a new era – one where citizens’ rights in every country around the world are protected by digital bills of rights”:

Like the Web, Marco Civil has been built by its users – the groundbreaking, inclusive and participatory process has resulted in a policy that balances the rights and responsibilities of the individuals, governments and corporations who use the Internet. (…)  ultimately the draft Bill reflects the Internet as it should be: an open, neutral and decentralized network, in which users are the engine for collaboration and innovation.

Ukrainians Desperate to Flip the Script on Fascism

On March 25, 2014 designer and one of the most popular RuNet bloggers, Tema Lebedev, announced on his blog that his design studio, ArtLevedev created the logo for the “2014, a Year of Culture” project, commissioned by the Russian government:

ArtLebedev's constructivist logo. Screenshot.

ArtLebedev's constructivist logo. Screenshot.

Shortly after, one of his readers posted a comment [ru] to his blog, with the logo jokingly photoshoped to look like a swastika:

Screenshot.

Screenshot.

This image was in picked up by Ukrainian Twitter user Katya Avramchuk, who posted it saying that this was the actual logo designed by Lebedev's studio:

Artemiy Lebedev's studio (Erken Kagarov) designed the logo for Russia's year of culture.

From here, the Tweet was re-posted [ru] by popular Russian-language Ukrainian Twitter @euromaidan, which tweeted it without attribution. This post has been re-tweeted 389 times. No trace of the original (funny or not) joke remains, just another entry into a name-calling “Who is the bigger Nazi” contest between Russians and Ukrainians.

Brazil's Internet Bill of Rights Ignites Storm of Posts

Activists who support Brazil's bill of rights for Internet users, known as the #MarcoCivil, and who have Facebook or Twitter accounts are invited to participate in a large-scale campaign on social networks to pressure the National Congress to vote on the current version of the bill. An article by Julie Rovono on TechCrunch explains how the lobby of telecom companies is threatening the net neutrality provision.

The mobilization is taking place today, March 25, 2014, under the hashtag #EuQueroMarcoCivil (I want Marco Civil). Voting may take place on the same day, though it has been postponed around 30 times [pt] since 2012. Anyone who wants to take part in the “compartilhaço” (“sharing storm”) can subscribe on the website “Save the Internet” from the social mobilization platform Meu Rio:

Vamos deixar claro para os deputados que a liberdade de expressão, a neutralidade da rede e a privacidade dos usuários não são negociáveis. O texto precisa ser aprovado como está!

Let's make it clear for members of parliament that freedom of expression, network neutrality and users privacy are not negotiable. The bill needs to be approved as it is!

‘The Subject': A New Crowdfunding Tool for Brazil's Independent Media

Aimed at providing an alternative to the traditional business model of media production, a new crowdfunding platform for independent journalism has been launched in Brazil. O Sujeito (The Subject) [pt] is hosted by the crowdfunding website Catarse, which wrote about the new venture [pt] coming at a time of transition for media funding:

O veículo impresso está em crise. O jornalismo não. Assim como sempre haverá música e cinema, independentemente dos grandes produtores, o jornalismo é autônomo em relação aos grandes meios.

Print media is in crisis. Journalism is not. As there will always be music and cinema, regardless of major producers, journalism is autonomous in relation to the big media.

Four projects mark the debut of this new venture: a Free Journalism School for youth; a documentary on Brazilian eco-villages; a publication on how to improve the work environment; and an investigation into people in Brazil who hold advertisement boards on the side of the road.

You can follow @osujeito_ on Twitter, “like” their Facebook page and watch the teaser below [pt]:

Tor Users on the Rise in Turkey

Human rights and ethics advocate Frederic Jacobs notes that the number of people using Tor is on the rise in Turkey:

Turkey has just banned Twitter.

A Telethon to Save Russia's Independent TV

TV Rain's official logo.

Russia’s only independent television station, TV Rain, is on its last leg. Following what appears to have been an orchestrated campaign to rob the channel of its cable and satellite distributors, advertisers have run for the hills and the station is being evicted from its Moscow studio at Red October later this year. There’s even a rumor that Lifenews.ru—a Kremlin-friendly outfit that often miraculously reports news before it’s happened—will take over TV Rain’s office space.

As funds dwindle, staff are reduced, and time runs out, many have been asking what TV Rain can do to avoid ruin. We now know what the station will try to do to save itself: a weeklong telethon. “Tomorrow there might not be a TV Rain,” reads the telethon's manifest, “and this week will decide everything.” The station says it will seek viewer funding to continue operating, following the model of public television, which Dmitri Medvedev famously promoted (without great success).

Beginning tomorrow, March 24, 2014, TV Rain will display onscreen a crawling fundraising total. The ticker will convert the money collected into the amount of time the donations can keep TV Rain operating.

Может быть, хватит всего на один день. А может быть, на неделю. Но кто знает — может быть, и на месяцы — всё зависит от вас.

Maybe there will only be enough for another day. Maybe for a week. But who knows—maybe it will be enough for several months. Everything depends on you.

The remaining staff at TV Rain.

Misogyny Masquerading as Gender Equality in Barbados?

After questionable statements on gender violence from a public official in Barbados, CODE RED says:

The Bureau of Gender Affairs has a mandate for ensuring gender equality. It is precisely because of that mandate that Bureau staff should publicly distance themselves from statements that are sexist, deliberately inflammatory and unsubstantiated.

Suspected Government #SelfieMacedonia Campaign Backfires

A Facebook campaign with the hashtag #SelfieMacedonia was launched in March 2014 and Macedonian social media users now suspect that the country's government is behind it all.

Bouts of young social media users from Macedonia, individually or in groups, have been taking photos of themselves, typically called “selfies”, and sharing them on Facebook with the hashtag. None of this would be unusual were it not for the peculiar fact that national monuments and buildings constructed ​​by the current government are in most of these photos.

The Youth Force Union, a youth group of the ruling party in Macedonia, began taking these “selfie” photos that sometimes include the ruling party’s flag and logo. The hashtag aroused great interest and many users began commenting these features on social networks, indicating suspicion that the campaign is being staged by the ruling party’s headquarters.

In response to the “selfies” with the monuments and political symbols, an even greater number of photo-montage images can be found on Facebook now, some depicting government officials attending current events.

A widely circulated photoshopped image showing a Macedonian government official and US President Obama, part of the response of Macedonian social media users to the #SelfieMacedonia campaign.

A widely circulated photoshopped image showing a Macedonian government official and US President Obama, part of the response of Macedonian social media users to the #SelfieMacedonia campaign.

A1on.mk commented on the campaign in a recent article and included several of these images.

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