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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Snowden’

Pew: There’s a ‘Spiral of Silence’ on Social Media

spiral-of-silence-theory-1-728We often think of the Internet as a breeding grounds for idea exchange — a place that lends itself perfectly to sharing viewpoints on topics both trivial and complex. But according to Pew Research Center, there’s something deeper happening in your social media networks that goes against what many of us may perceive.

What they’re calling a “spiral of silence,” Pew found that sites like Facebook and Twitter are often being avoided as outlets of discussion for political and controversial issues such as the Snowden-NSA revelations for fear that followers will disagree with the poster’s views.

Not only do those 1,801 people polled seem to have an aversion to airing out their opinions on social media, but Pew found that “people who thought their social media friends disagreed with them were less likely to discuss the issues in face-to-face gatherings, as well as online forums.” Still, 86 percent of Americans said they would have an in-person talk about the NSA’s mass surveillance program, though only 42 percent of Facebook/Twitter users said they would post about the issue on those platforms.

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Tow Center Gets Knight Support For ‘Journalism After Snowden’ Initiative

02a02a5a-c755-4650-a2b8-47fffbc0af8b_170x255Mass surveillance is a big deal, and Columbia’s Tow Center wants to ensure the issue gets the attention it deserves. The Journalism After Snowden project just got a boost worth $150,000 from the Knight Foundation, which will allow the Tow Center to explore how journalism will function in the age of surveillance.

The initiative supports a yearlong series of events and research articles in conjunction with the Columbia Journalism Review.

An #AfterSnowden event will convene in San Francisco on June 18, complete with solutions and best practices for addressing source protection and other issues in the current surveillance state. Plus, Edward Snowden colleague and The Intercept journalism Glenn Greenwald will round out the event with a presentation on his NSA surveillance reporting (consider brushing up on your Greenwald knowledge with an extensive piece I wrote after his SXSW talk earlier this year).

In a blog post for the Knight Foundation, Tow Center Research Fellow Jennifer Henrichsen and Research Director Taylor Owen wrote a fascinating explanation of the challenges set before us:

“Metadata can reveal journalists’ sources without requiring officials to obtain a subpoena. Intelligence agencies can tap into undersea cables to capture encrypted traffic. Mobile devices, even when powered off, can be remotely accessed to record conversations,” the two wrote.

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Behind the Scenes at The Guardian During the Edward Snowden Era

snowden_1370814166862_426887_ver1.0_320_240The Guardian has gotten more press in the past year than ever before. This is of course thanks to one Edward Snowden (Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras helped too). News outlets dutifully reported on the NSA leaks with fervor, but for media junkies, the real story went on behind the scenes. Read more

SXSWi 2014: Glenn Greenwald on Social Media, Surveillance and the Purpose of Journalism

greenwald-sxswSXSW attendees packed into an Austin Convention Center exhibit hall earlier this week to hear from a guest who wasn’t even in town — editor and journalist with First Look Media’s The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald.

Widely known as an associate of Edward Snowden, a former government employee who leaked hundreds of documents on the NSA’s surveillance program, Greenwald was invited to discuss his work and the future of democratic journalism via Skype. In his virtual conversation with Personal Democracy Media editorial director Micah Sifry, Greenwald was his usual unabashed, passionate self expressing his thoughts on the power of social media, government surveillance initiatives, constitutional rights and his role as a journalist:

On social:

For a man who is busy trying to expose what he believes are great injustices to the American public by reporting from all over the world, Greenwald is a pretty active Twitter user. And as the former Guardian writer said Monday, he’s a fan of the platform. “I actually do think it’s a really good medium.” Referring to social as the “biggest difference between today’s online journalism and establishment journalism,” he said its best benefit is that the availability of reader feedback it provides “keeps you honest.”

“I do think online interaction, unpleasant and annoying as it may be, is a really important form of accountability,” Greenwald said. In the old days, legacy media reporters and columnists “were completely insular people who spoke to the world in monologue form … to passive readers. Now, if you are a journalist, you’re going to constantly hear from people … who have a lot of important things to say.”

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Was 2013 the Year Anonymity Died on the Internet?

Even without all the revelations of digital government spying coming out of leaked documents from Edward Snowden, 2013 will likely go down in the books as a tipping point away from the old online adage: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

This week, after hinting at it earlier this year, the online behemoth Huffington Post turned off anonymous user comments. Now, unless you apply for a special exception, your comments will be tied to your Facebook identity. (There’s a whole other discussion about Facebook names not being verified, but the idea is most people won’t go through the trouble of creating a whole new fake account, and it will at least make you stop and think for a minute — unless of course your username and avatars on the Internet are actually your dog because some people are into that.)

Aside from Huffington Post, other major players took a step away from online trolls this year. YouTube, home of perhaps one of the most notorious spam and vitriol-filled comment sections, moved toward an identity-based (aka: Google+) user-relevant comment section in November. Popular Science dropped comments altogether in September!

Many other news publishers jumped on the no-anonymous-commenting train that had started to gain steam in recent years this year. Already some big publishers, like Gannett, made the switch away from free-for-all comment section to those tied to social media accounts, which in theory are less anonymous. But this year even smaller communities, such as Gwinnett, Ga., and other bigger papers, such as the Sacramento Bee, made the switch.

That’s not to say there isn’t a case to be made for anonymity, but as anyone who has published anything on the Internet or had anything about them published on the Internet can attest, sometimes people are are just mean for the sake of being mean. Even with their names attached, people are still inexplicably cruel sometimes, but at least they do it publicly. In general, on news sites where comments are now tied to identities, it does seem to have elevated, if only somewhat, the level of discourse. That’s important because those comments can actually influence how people feel about the stories they read.

To be sure, other publishers have tried various methods to tame trolling comments without dropping them altogether or outing commenters’ identities. UC Berkeley has a good summary of some of the ideas and milestones in news site comment section adaptation.

What do you think? Have we reached the tipping point at which some day our kids or kids’ kids will look back on early online comments sections with awe in the same way we now marvel that the Internet used to move at 14kbps and basic computers once took up a whole room?

Tell us in the comments below, where yeah, for now, you don’t have to actually use your real name — but you probably shouldn’t be a jerk anyway.