25
Oct 16

Hackers – Could They have Found New Kinds of Activism?

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A few weeks ago, while searching for documentaries to watch, I landed on two interesting ones about hackers in two free-of-charge streaming websites of UR—The Swedish educational broadcasting company—which is an independent public service company that operates together with SVT (Swedish public television). The first documentary is a 28minutes-long episode that is a part of an 8-episodes series called Aktivismens Tid (Activism Time) from 2014 that is produced by UR. The second one is almost an hour-long called Internetaktivisterna (Internet Activists) from 2015 by the French director Flo Laval. What I found interesting about these documentaries was that they show not only the different kinds of activism hackers engage with, but also the way they propagate and share technological knowledge with “ordinary people”, primarily knowledge about internet surveillance/censorship and the ways people can avoid it, that is, use the internet in a safer way. Thus, from, generally, being focused on working with other hackers on projects like open-source/free software, hackers have been engaging in a more collaborative work with others like ordinary people and different kinds of social organizations who have no previous relation to hacker culture. Continue reading →


11
Oct 16

Facebook and Censorship: The Case of When He Pays

In an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, it was reported that last month, Tali Coral, the operator of the page When He Pays, was blocked again by Facebook, only two weeks after the social network had admitted that previous sanctions against her and the page, which is used to combat the Israeli prostitution industry and its customers, were imposed by mistake.

13692715_1402407063106820_7855439369426465343_n Image taken from When He Pays Facebook-page campaign

According to Coral, she was blocked from publishing on the campaign-page for three days because a customer reported her for one of her posts: she published a screenshot of an email she received from him under a pseudonym in which he described to her in details his encounters with a “service provider” while paradoxically reprimanding her for accusing him of being a client of the sex industry. Two weeks beforehand, Coral’s personal account was blocked for 24 hours, and some of the posts on the campaign-page were deleted due to “violation of Facebook’s community standards”. Since it was her third warning, the social network threatened to delete the entire page. Continue reading →


01
Oct 16

Avaaz: Another Slacktivist Organization or a New Hybrid in Development?

 

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I have recently come across again the online advocacy organization Avaaz in different contexts, and it seems fitting as the first post of this blog. Even though there are similar organizations around, like 38 Degrees and Change.org, just to name a few, Avaaz is the largest in scale. Its current membership rate is 43-odd million members, which makes it the world’s largest online “community” that has been getting relatively much attention by the press over the years since its establishment in 2007. The group has been profiled (in the Economist, the Guardian, and Wired magazine) and receiving attention for its winning campaigns, but also criticised mostly for its clicktivist/slacktivist nature and, subsequently, also for its offline “problematic” activities. Even though the clicktivism debate has been one of the most debated issues recently in relation to media technologies and development, the particular debate around Avaaz is especially interesting because it can shed some light on some of the connections between new media, activism, and social change. Continue reading →


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