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Robot
April 12, 2017

Mark Dillen on Russia, social media, and information warfare.

February 22, 2017

Sitting in my bedroom, 200 miles from Aleppo, social media makes it easier than ever to spectate the atrocities of the civil war. But has social media changed the reality of organising a protest on the ground? [...] There are a small number of major competitors for protest organisation platforms. Facebook, of course, has cornered the market. Twitter also plays a role. ​

“Don’t you kill our own Muslim brothers?” a mop-haired youth asks a terrorist recruiter in one animated video showing up on Arabic Facebook accounts in North Africa. “So much of this, it doesn’t seem right.” The video is one of several paid ads that are turning up on millions of cellphones and computer screens in countries known to be top recruiting grounds for the Islamic State. The ads offer a harrowing view of life inside the self-proclaimed caliphate, sometimes with photos or cartoons and often in the words of refugees and defectors who warn others to stay away.

After the internet mocked the picture of US President Donald Trump signing the travel ban executive order, Swedish Deputy PM and Climate Minister has taken a dig at another similar picture. Isabella Lövin posted a picture of her signing an order with a queue of female ministers standing behind her. The image is seen as a parody of the picture of President Trump signing an anti-abortion executive order with a line of male ministers standing behind him.

Dr Tobias Feakin, Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs, took up his appointment in January. Unlike the Danish position, Ambassador Feakin’s role appears mainly focussed on cyber-security, but also includes voicing concerns about censorship, promoting internet access, and developing cyber capacity among our neighbours. It’s unclear at this stage to what extent Ambassador Feakin will be dealing directly with Google, Facebook and their ilk. 

Social media heavyweights like Facebook and YouTube have been working with the U.S. government and other international partners as they look to take a more active role in combating terrorist propaganda and other extremist messages that have gained traction online. Officials from the popular social network and YouTube parent Google addressed the issue here at a recent tech policy conference.

Digital diplomacy is a hot topic. Embassies all over the world increasingly use social media as a low-cost and convenient tool to promote their countries, inform people about their latest activities and engage with their followers. Many embassies can be found on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, but also on China’s Sina Weibo or WeChat, changing the way foreign embassies engage with with local audiences in China.
 

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