Social networks, social revolution

Al Jazeera Empire: Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have become the new weapons of mass mobilisation. Are social networks triggering social revolution? And where will the next domino fall?

Mexicans “Tweeting” for their Lives in Violent Cities

Narco-blockade, as seen from a Tweeter's car.

by Kristin Bricker

In some northern Mexican cities, shootouts and dumped cadavers have been relatively common occurrences since President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug trafficking in late 2006.  However, in mid-2009, drug war mayhem took a new twist: narco-blockades. In Monterrey and Reynosa, two northern cities notoriously replete with organized crime, drug traffickers began to organize blockades that paralyzed entire sections of those cities.  The blockades are sometimes in retaliation for the detention of important organized crime figures.  In other cases, they are organized to prevent the police and military from acting against drug traffickers.

Often, during the blockades gunmen order civilians out of their vehicles.  The gunmen then use the vehicles to block key roads or intersections, and sometimes they set the vehicles on fire.  Shootouts with automatic assault rifles are common occurrences at the blockades.

In Reynosa and Monterrey, citizens have begun to use the online social networking service Twitter to alert fellow residents of potentially dangerous situations such as shootouts and blockades. Twitter allows users to send out 140-character messages to their “followers.”  It also allows users to create topics called “hash tags” by preceding words with a hash symbol (#).  The way in which Twitter organizes information allows users to communicate and disseminate very short messages very quickly.
Continue reading “Mexicans “Tweeting” for their Lives in Violent Cities”

The best hasbara: Israeli government to step up front groups in social media sites

Yesterday, Israel’s ‘Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister’ Yuli Edelstein spoke at some length about his country’s ‘PR problem’, including possible plans to create a 24-hr news channel. But further down the article, Edelstein talked about the ways in which Israel’s propaganda effort is being increasingly delegated to volunteers:

“We’ve been working on creating an infrastructure of our friends and allies around the world, in the Jewish and Christian communities, which is not fully ready yet. It’s based on volunteers and professionals [who will coordinate the transmission of accurate information],” the minister said.

Edelstein conceded that the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry suffered from restrictive budget problems. Nevertheless, he was seeking to implement ambitious initiatives based on volunteers.

“This is the 21st century, and that means things that are not officially called hasbara are the best hasbara. The moment things come from the government, the state, or ministries, they are perceived as being less reliable and as propaganda,” Edelstein said.

”There are many things only volunteers can do. Writing on Facebook, Twitter blogs, and sending e-mails to friends is second to none. The best things people can do are not about money, but about doing things in the right way.”

Edelstein cited an operations center housed in his ministry and staffed by volunteers, as well as a ministry secretary, both aimed at maintaining continuous contact with Diaspora communities.

Continue reading “The best hasbara: Israeli government to step up front groups in social media sites”