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Category Archives: Censorship

Report – Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

Freedom House – Freedom of the Net 2017: “Governments around the world have dramatically increased their efforts to manipulate information on social media over the past year. The Chinese and Russian regimes pioneered the use of surreptitious methods to distort online discussions and suppress dissent more than a decade ago, but the practice has since gone global. Such state-led interventions present a major threat to the notion of the internet as a liberating technology. Online content manipulation contributed to a seventh consecutive year of overall decline in internet freedom, along with a rise in disruptions to mobile internet service and increases in physical and technical attacks on human rights defenders and independent media. Nearly half of the 65 countries assessed in Freedom on the Net 2017 experienced declines during the coverage period, while just 13 made gains, most of them minor. Less than one-quarter of users reside in countries where the internet is designated Free, meaning there are no major obstacles to access, onerous restrictions on content, or serious violations of user rights in the form of unchecked surveillance or unjust repercussions for legitimate speech. The use of “fake news,” automated “bot” accounts, and other manipulation methods gained particular attention in the United States. While the country’s online environment remained generally free, it was troubled by a proliferation of fabricated news articles, divisive partisan vitriol, and aggressive harassment of many journalists, both during and after the presidential election campaign. Russia’s online efforts to influence the American election have been well documented, but the United States was hardly alone in this respect. Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate. Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad—as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe—in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power…”

Research – The Slippery Slope of Internet Censorship in Egypt

Berkman Klein Center, Harvard University – “The first Internet Monitor research bulletin summarizes the recent, dramatic increase in Internet censorship in Egypt, examines the Twitter conversation around website blocking in Egypt, and identifies ways that users disseminate banned content.” “Internet filtering in Egypt illustrates how censorship can be a slippery slope. After an extended period… Continue Reading

NYT – Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web

The web is not as open as it once was, with nation-states exerting their power over the internet: “…Facebook encapsulates the reasons for the internet’s fragmentation — and increasingly, its consequences. The company has become so far-reaching that more than two billion people — about a quarter of the world’s population — now use Facebook… Continue Reading

Online Employee Idea Forum at State Dept. Closed Down

Government Executive: “At the end of August, State Department employees will lose access to the in-house employee online forum called Sounding Board, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s staff announced in a departmentwide email on Aug. 17. Employees were told to archive any previous discussion items of interest because the past content will not be archived,… Continue Reading

Words ‘climate change’ removed from NIH website removes

Update via the Observer, August 25, 2017 – Energy Department Tells Scientist to Remove ‘Climate Change’ From Study – “On August 24, the Trump administration’s Department of Energy censored a Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science proposal from Dr. Jennifer Bowen, an associate professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She posted a screenshot of the email on Facebook,… Continue Reading

Medium – The truth has got its boots on: what the evidence says about Mr. Damore’s Google memo

I’m saying, sir, that a lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on. — Terry Pratchett, The Truth The truth has got its boots on: what the evidence says about Mr. Damore’s Google memo by Erin Giglio, PhD student and MeFite at UT Austin working on singing mice (Scotinomys).… Continue Reading

Removal of animal welfare data from USDA site sparks FOIA requests

Follow up to previous postings – DOJ defends USDA take-down of massive animal abuse database; Durbin Demands Trump Administration Restore Animal Cruelty; and Animal welfare information wiped from USDA website – see updated status on this matter: People who care about animal welfare are demanding information from USDA – “The Agriculture Department abruptly removed all animal… Continue Reading

Myth of one internet has morphed into reality of the ‘splinternet’

August 4, 2017, Terry Flew: “Both The Economist and WIRED are worried about the “splinternet”. The UK research organisation NESTA thinks it could “break up” the world wide web as we know it. What is this awkwardly named idea? It’s the concept that someone’s experience of the internet in Turkey, for example, is increasingly different… Continue Reading

Memory Hole posts Tweets deleted by Scaramucci

MemoryHole2: “Immediately after Anthony Scaramucci was named White House communications director on July 21, 2017, Josh Billinson discovered two tweets critical of Trump. After Billinson tweeted about them, Scaramucci blocked him (temporarily) and deleted the tweets. Soon after, it became apparent that Scaramucci was deleting more tweets, leading numerous outlets to report on this. I’ve… Continue Reading

Citizens unredacted personal data concerning election fraud commission posted by White House

Follow up to resources with previous posting – States reject demand to provide all voter personal info to Trump election fraud commission – via Slate – White House Publishes Names, Emails, Phone Numbers, Home Addresses of Critics – “People who spoke up about their concerns over privacy suddenly found key private details, including their email… Continue Reading

How to Find Deleted Public Health Assessments for Contaminated Sites

MemoryHole2: “How to Find Deleted Public Health Assessments for Contaminated Sites, June 5, 2017  – Click here to access the missing reports from prior to October 2004 UPDATE [June 8, 2017]: There’s a second source for these documents. Most of them exist in PDF format in the Commerce Department’s National Technical Information Service website. (These… Continue Reading

EFF Sues DOJ For Records on Procedures for Ending National Security Letter Gag Orders

EFF news release:  “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued the Justice Department today to obtain records that can shed light on whether the FBI is complying with a Congressional mandate that it periodically review and lift National Security Letter (NSL) gag orders that are no longer needed. The FBI has issued as many as 500,000… Continue Reading