Mariamz

Posts Tagged ‘democracy

some [Facebook] users with many subscribers will be notified through their profile of the option to verify their identity… There’s no way to volunteer to be verified, you have to be chosen. These users will be prompted to submit an image of a government-issued photo ID, which is deleted after verification. They’ll also be given the option to enter an “alternate name” that can be used to find them through search and that can be displayed next to their real name in parentheses or as a replacement

Josh Constine

Advertisements

A few weeks ago I saw Wael Ghonim at LSE speak about his new book Revolution 2.0. I found the talk most enjoyable – his authenticity and passion were a pleasure to listen to. The discussion afterwards was mainly on the political situation in Egypt – understandably given the session was run by the LSE’s Middle East centre (not the Media and Communications school where I recently studied).

But when I fortunate enough to have the chance to ask a question I dived in with a social media one… asking him about anonymity in relation to his administration of the Facebook page credited with being a catalyst for the Egyptian revolution… given the success he described with bringing people together would have been impossible if real names were used throughout the process (he had mentioned earlier that working with others on the “We are all Khaled Saeed” Facebook page .. they did not reveal their true identities to one another during several months of organising). I also cheekily asked that he comment on the Google+ policy on real names in relation to this vital civic question..

Wael did not answer at great length – he said he was not on Google+ (nothing if not apparently honest to a fault!?) and that anonymity on the Facebook platform did not matter so much to his activities, since whilst running a Facebook page no one can publicly see who the admin is. He also said he trusted that Facebook would not have done anything dangerous with his data… that they could have traced him via IP anyway (I will cover this in a later post).. and he trusted the platform would not have misused what it knew about him.

I was grateful for this answer – but to pick back up on it… I would argue our brief exchange leaves wide open a rich and urgent territory for consideration in relation to online participation, democracy and identity:

  • In a short-term ‘revolutionary’ situation – using a social platform hosted in one country to discuss issues, organise and challenge the state of another may well be highly possible (for now)
  • But anonymity / pseudonymity which enables citizens to develop understanding and contribute to political commentary (particularly over extended periods of time) without fear of judgement or consequence from peers, colleagues, employers and state powers is not being built into the major social platforms in popular use by the mainstream in western democracies (for example, when you comment on the wall of a Facebook page – your real name is publicly visible)
  • As Sanna Trygg, myself and many others have argued, online comments can contribute to healthy public debate in general and open our media up to a more diverse and democratic discourse
  • However any social platform which stores real identities with political commentary may be used as a ‘technology of power’ which enables users’ opinion and interest data to be used against them for state or commercial purposes
  • Furthermore, contrary to the attitude of much ‘big media’ towards lowly unidentifiable commenters, on average, it has been found that online participation using pseudonyms often results in higher quality participation than that conducted using ‘real names’

This indicates the need for urgent attention to ways in which identity can be handled differently, more sensitively, by all using, designing, hosting and regulating participation online. If anonymity / pseudonymity as an option is more valuable and indeed safer for individual safety and liberty in any online forum where critical civic dialogue takes place… the case must be made and won, the software adapted and norms altered… while they still can be.

Legislative bodies at both the national and EU level need to ensure… that press freedom is ‘mainstreamed’ across all initiatives so that advances in one field are not undermined by developments in another. A particular area of concern is the potential impact of anti-terrorism legislation at both the domestic and EU levels, which, if inappropriately applied, could give security services extensive access to journalists’ materials or contact details, thereby restricting their ability to obtain information or even putting reporters’ lives at risk.

Rachael Craufurd Smith and Yolande Stolte (PDF)

The majority of Internet users are interested in, and capable of, finding information from their local government and council. Political participation online is, however, not very popular, with 74% of [UK] adult Internet users not interested in contacting MPs or MSPs online, and 64% not interested in signing online petitions (Ofcom, 2011b: 42)

Rachael Craufurd Smith and Yolande Stolte (PDF)

Since September journalists have been arrested at Occupy events in 10 cities around the U.S. Due in large part to these arrests, the United States plunged 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders’ 2011 press freedom index. The United States is now ranked 47th in the world for press freedom

Josh Stearns

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has delivered a five year action plan for the UN entitled “The Future We Want,” elaborating on high level goals set out last year (and sharing directly with the world on Twitter).

Here are some key points from an information society perspective:

  • Technology continues to knit us more closely together… Yet, economic uncertainty and social inequity are widespread.
  • We are… preparing to empower future generations by offering quality, relevant and universal education to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
  • On conflict, my agenda highlights early warning and action on conflict by mapping, linking, collecting and integrating information from across the international system.
  • We will also adopt a preventive approach to human rights. The era of impunity is dead. We have entered a new age of accountability.
  • When events slip off the front page, when the cameras leave, the UN must be ready to maintain focus and attention.. We have a responsibility to help societies in transition… we will support “transition compacts” with agreed strategic objectives and mutual accountability in fragile and conflict environments.
  • We will do even more to promote women’s political participation worldwide
  • Today we have the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. They are demanding their rights and a greater voice in economic and political life.
  • We will harness the full power of transformative partnership across the range of UN activities by creating a New UN Partnerships Facility. It will work with the private sector, civil society, philanthropists and academia to advance common goals, catalyze commitments and promote accountability.

Ban Ki-moon

Threshold charges subject the logic of the print bundle — a bit of everything for everybody, slathered with ads — to two new questions: What do our most committed users want? And what will turn our most frequent readers into committed users? … This is new territory for mainstream papers, who have always had head count rather than engagement as their principal business metric

Clay Shirky


This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

My tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.

The views in this blog do not reflect that of my employer
Advertisements