Social media in government: 12 January to 18 January

The hashtags #JesuisNigerian and #BokoHaramKilled2000People attracted less attention than #JesuisCharlie. However, in the end social media did respond to images, released by Amnesty International, of the Boko Haram massacre of over 2000 Nigerian civilians the same day that terrorists killed 17 people in France. Ironically, Nigerian politicians, some of whom joined the #JesuisCharlie on Twitter, failed to mention the carnage in their own country. Meanwhile ISIS used the Charlie Hebdo social media buzz to encourage others to #FightForHim by acting as “city wolves” and committing further acts of terror.

While the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo sold out, the controversial cover featuring a sad Prophet Mohammed carrying a sign that says “Je suis Charlie” under the heading “All is forgiven” elicited both praise and fury in social networks. The Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov called for a demonstration against Charlie Hebdo via his popular instagram account. He captioned a picture of himself with the following, “We sincerely love the Prophet Muhammad! We have to pray, live, raise children, work for the sake of Allah! Today, some people without kith or kin, spiritual and moral values are trying to offend the honour of the Prophet. They will never succeed in it!”

Turkey continues to demand that social networks filter posts of documents that might provide evidence that the Turkish government is sharing arms with militant groups in Syria. Twitter has agreed to filter specific posts but refused to ban entire accounts that have supposedly posted the damning documents. Facebook has ignored the government so far. 

The Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet decided to go against the national grain and republish the Charlie Hebdo cover in a solidarity move. The paper’s editor-in-chief Utku Cakirozer explained the decision on Twitter.

In Afghanistan, an online tool called SadRoz  (“100 days” in Dari) tracks how well the administration of President Ashraf Ghani fulfils election promises. Afghans log-in via Twitter and Facebook to share how well the government is performing in their region.

Ghanaian politicians are slugging it out on social media. The current administration has responded to oppositions’ allegations of fraudulent spending by posting photographs of successfully-funded government projects to social media.

With the help of partner countries, Somalia has successfully closed down 20 Twitter accounts that falsely claimed to represent national government figures.

Libyan social media circulated images of men with machine guns claiming links to ISIS and threatening shop owners in Tripoli that sold women’s lingerie and make-up.  In response, the Libyan government is asking for international help in addressing domestic terrorism.

The liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was to receive the second instalment of 1000 lashes Friday for his online writing, but these were postponed.

Last Sunday, the UAE launched the National Programme for Government Communication (NPGC) to address national priorities and concerns. The strategy will incorporate traditional and social media to better educate the UAE community on key issues over the next seven years.

The Pakistani activist Mohammad Jibran Nasir is leading a social media campaign to #ReclaimYourMosques. He was angered by a leading local cleric’s apologist approach to the Peshawar attack in which Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan killed 130 school children. The apologist cleric has not been arrested or detained by Pakistani authorities.

The Chinese government has closed 50 websites and social media accounts this week for “publishing news without a permit.” In addition, Chinese authorities plan to make netizens register for social media accounts with their real names.

Meanwhile Vietnamese Premier Nguyen Tan Dung admitted,”It’s impossible for us to ban [social media].” Instead, he encouraged his government to use social media to “provide the public with official and accurate information in a timely manner on social media.”

Australia plans to lift laws demanding a political advertising blackout three days prior to any election. Social media allows such laws to be circumvented; thus the laws seem a bit out of date.

The Twitter and YouTube accounts of the U.S. military Central Command (CENTCOM) were hacked by ISIS or ISIS sympathisers Monday during a cyber-security speech by President Obama. This has spurred a lot of discussion about the importance of securing social networking accounts of federal agencies and employees. The hacktivist group Anonymous stepped in to help find the ISIS culprits, tweeting “We’ve traced the hacker who infiltrated @CENTCOM to somewhere in the State of Maryland. @FBI, you’re welcome.” Meanwhile the ominous social media posts of a would-be terrorist helped local law enforcement apprehend the man before he could carry out any attacks.

A social media video campaign aims to collect 440 one-minute videos (as many minutes as there are in a day) from Cubans that want to see change in their government. Find the video and related content under the hashtag #yotambienexijo.

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is monitoring the opinion of citizens in social media on everything from holiday billboards to economic policy to collect feedback that can be used to improve the Government’s policy and communication efforts.

Finally the UK is looking into how British women use social media to recruit other British women to participate in ISIS attacks and propaganda.

For more, follow @Linda_Margaret on Twitter.



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