Home London, Riots & Social Media: This Week in Online Tyranny

London, Riots & Social Media: This Week in Online Tyranny

London riots feature social media policing and Blackberry Messaging. London’s Metropolitan police told reporters they were delving into Twitter and other social media as part of their investigation into looting. For the better part of a week, many parts of London, centering on Tottenham, have erupted in fire and looting.

Attention has also been focused on Blackberry’s private messaging service, known as BBM. London tech and media specialist Jonathan Akwue wrote a post on his blog outlining the case for Blackberry as the messaging vector of choice for the rioters.

Two Scottish teenagers are due to appear in court over messages posted to their Facebook accounts allegedly encouraging rioting.

Our community manager Robyn Tippins has posted the first in a series called “The Big Question.” She asked, “What effect does social media on the Web have on social unrest in the real world?” And you answered.

Blackberry hacked for allegedly cooperating with London police. Research in Motion’s Inside Blackberry blog was hacked on Tuesday by a group calling itself TeaMp0isoN_. They left a message behind, saying, in part, “You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all.”

Anonymous vs. Facebook. Claiming that “Facebook has been selling information to governments agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms,” the hacktivist collective has threatened to “destroy Facebook” on November 5th. So, there’s that. As Dan Rowinski points out in his article, that’s easier said than done. The Syrian Ministry of Defense is one thing, but Facebook quite another entirely.

Turkey backs away from online censorship plans. “A plan to require Turkish Internet users to choose one of four state-mandated browsing filters starting this month has been scrapped,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Instead, the government will offer two filters (Child and Family) on an opt-in basis. Otherwise, the Internet is to remain free. A cause for celebration.

Anonymous hacks the Syrian Defense Ministry Website. The Ministry of Defense, which oversees many of the personnel who have contributed to 1,700 civilian deaths during Syria’s five month-long Arab Spring protests, was hacked. Anonymous left behind their logo and a note. The note said, among other things, “The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become.”

7% of Arab bloggers arrested. Berkman Center and Global Voices released a study asserting that 7% of Arab bloggers have been detained by police and security forces within the last year and 30% threatened. The sample was admittedly small, however, consisting of the approximately 100 Arab bloggers aggregated by Global Voices, 80% of whom blog in English.

Moroccan activist blog attacked. Mamfakinch was the victim of a DDoS attack. It appears back up at this point. Mamfakinch’s co-founder, Lbadikho, contributed to our status report on the Arab Spring.

Hungary passes religious-based censorship law. Hungary has passed a law that is a kind of de facto ban on many religious denominations. Under the law, only 14 of the nearly 400 formerly-recognized religious groups retain official status. The rest must apply for reinstatement. Budgetary funds for charitable work are now withheld from those groups.

Trial of Zimbabwean Facebook user delayed. Vikas Mavhudzi was arrested arrested in March for commenting on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s Facebook page, saying Egypt, in revolt at the time, was “sending shockwaves to dictators around the world.” One of those dictators, the tinhorn president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabi, made Mavhudzi the first Facebook user to be arrested in the southern African country.

His trial, which was supposed to begin last Friday, was delayed until August 25th, when it was discovered that “the State failed to access the message after it apparently appeared Mavhudzi’s Internet account expired after the cellphone was confiscated by police in February. Jamela and Chanayiwa also notified the State that their client would not help the State in any way to access the message arguing it would be tantamount to Mavhudzi incriminating himself.”

Clapham photo by George Rex, Esna photo by Ed Yourdon

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