The Privacy BlogPrivacy, Security, Cryptography, and Anonymity

May/08

20

The strength and weakness of Internet activism

Fledgling Rebellion on Facebook Is Struck Down by Force in Egypt – washingtonpost.com  For a short time Facebook became the center of a fledgling activist movement in Egypt. Over 74,000 people registered on a Facebook page devoted to this issue. It became the primary communications path for this group, and enabled its explosive growth. It also contained the seeds of its rapid unwinding and the arrest and beating of the creator of that page.To me this is yet another example of the “On the Internet nobody knows you’re a dog” syndrome. People feel so comfortable in front of their computers, they will say and do things they would fear to do in public or face to face. Facebook is in no way anonymous, nor does it claim to be. While there are many tools that could have enabled these people to operate and organize anonymously, there is no evidence that they used any of them.The Internet is very powerful, but it is also very public. People wishing to use it in repressive countries need to take special care to protect themselves and their visitors. 

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3 comments

  • brv · May 22, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Frankly the idea that Freedom of Speach can be achieved on a social networking site is silly. Even as a white, american, educated PC geek I am censored by the very fact that a network that connects between people is NOT a place for self-expression, it is a place for no-expression other than “what is expected” to be someone’s contact, another’s friend, and a “good Face” to add to one’s network.

    Those seeking FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION from Cuba, China, Iran, and other lands of state control can WRITE BOOKS, write letters, do not need the web for freedom of expression! It is a western idea that the Internet is here to save everyone. It is 18 years old and older ways of expression are stronger.

  • brv · May 22, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Frankly the idea that Freedom of Speech can be achieved on a social networking site is silly. Even as a white, american, educated PC geek I am censored by the very fact that a network that connects between people is NOT a place for self-expression, it is a place for no-expression other than “what is expected” to be someone’s contact, another’s friend, and a “good Face” to add to one’s network.

    Those seeking FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION from Cuba, China, Iran, and other lands of state control can WRITE BOOKS, write letters, do not need the web for freedom of expression! It is a western idea that the Internet is here to save everyone. It is 18 years old and older ways of expression are stronger.

  • Author comment by lance · May 23, 2008 at 10:23 am

    I don’t know that I agree with you. I would agree that social networking sites are very bad for privacy, but if used carefully, can be very powerful for free speech.

    I don’t think that books are the answer though. The number of people who can be reached that way by the vast majority of writers is simply much too small. The reach enabled by the Internet is fantastic. It also requires great care to use it safely in hostile environments.

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