news archives >>


Headlines November 2015 Headlines October 2015 Headlines September 2015 Headlines November 2015

Czech Rep: New campaign combats hate online

The Czech Government's HateFree Culture campaign has issued the following press release:

23/11/2015- Almost two and a half million hateful commentaries about minorities and some social groups have been posted to the Czech Internet during the past year. Now more than 40 public figures are involved in a new campaign called "We're All In This Together" ("Jsme v tom spoleènì"). The campaign aims to draw attention to the fact that such hateful commentaries are not just being posted about the members of minorities, but about many different kinds of people for different reasons. The online campaign is linked to radio and television spots of the same name and features a series of portraits of the figures promoting it.

Several months ago photographs of a Muslim woman named Irena and her children in the Czech Republic were featured online as part of the "Not In My Name" campaign, and Czech-language Internet user Vlastimír N. posted "Shoot her!!!" beneath them. Irena is now one of the faces of the television advertisements for the  "We're All In This Together" campaign, which is just now beginning its rotation on several television stations in the Czech Republic. In other examples of hate, Czech-language Internet user "Jiøí S." posted the following online about bestselling Czech author Kateøina Tuèková: "Tuèková and those like her are the scum and the shame of our nation. She just wants publicity."

Articles in the media about Czech actress Sandra Nováková's pregnancy received this online response from Czech-language Internet user "asijo" castigating her: "My friend has a cat expecting kittens who is prettier than this monkey, but she isn't bragging about it in [the tabloid] Blesk." A Czech-language Internet user going by the nickname of "ejet" posted the following about documentary filmmaker Apolena Rychlíková: "I am looking forward to the day those poor guys circumcise the genitals of comrade Apolena. While she's alive, of course. That will be fun!!!!!"

The singer Jan Bendig has publicized an online message sent to him by a user called "Mark D.": "I'd like to drown you, little Gypsy, and beat up your entire family." The author Irena Obermannová also has also become the target of hateful, offensive commentaries in connection with her work: "You moldy 'truth-loving' slut, you're disgusting," was the online discussion post from an Internet user called "wojtylak". "The aim of these photographs and videos is to point out that anyone can encounter hate in the online environment, and not just because of affiliation with an ethnic, religious or sexual group. Frequently people become a target of offensive commentaries because of their appearance, life experiences, opinions, profession, and for many other reasons," says Lukáš Houdek of the Czech Government's HateFree Culture campaign.

"It is, therefore, in the interest of us all to do our best to reclaim the online environment and primarily to reflect ourselves before we write something similar there. We never know when we ourselves or someone close to us might become a target of online hate or insults. We are all in this together," Houdek said. More than 40 public figures are involved in the campaign from across various areas of cultural and social life who have allowed themselves to be photographed doing ordinary activities during their everyday lives. Their portraits are then accompanied by the hateful, insulting commentaries they have received by e-mail, or as commentaries beneath posts on Facebook or in online discussion forums.

Those figures include the singer Pavel Vítek and his partner Janis Sidovský, the singers Ben Cristovao and David Kraus, the singer Tonya Graves, the actor Berenika Kohoutová, the actors Lukáš Hejlík and Jakub Žáèek, and vloggers Martin ATI Malý, Martin Rota and Dominika Myslivcová. Those photographed include former drug users, Muslims, people living with HIV/AIDS, people of a different sexual orientation, Vietnamese, Roma, senior citizens, etc.

In real life people frequently react differently to others than they do in the online environment, as was demonstrated by a recent social experiment conducted by the Czech Government's Hate Free Culture initiative, which sent people posing as a Syrian refugee family onto the streets of several municipalities throughout the Czech Republic. Despite the strongly negative disposition of the Czech-language discussions of such people on the Internet, most of the residents of the towns the "test-family" met behaved toward them with empathy and solidarity.
© Romea.


Europe: Extreme tweeting

Few of the social-media stars among Europe’s politicians are centrists

20/11/2015- Most politicians these days know how to compose a tweet and post a Facebook update; some are competentselfie-takers. Yet Europe’s mainstream lawmakers are badly losing the battle for online attention to politicians from the populist right and the far left.

On average, a Facebook message from UKIP, a Eurosceptic British political party, received around 4,000 “likes” this year—double that of the ruling Conservatives. France’s right-wing National Front beat the Socialist party by five to one on the same measure. MEPs in Europe of Nations and Freedom, an anti-EU group, have many more Twitter followers than their politically centrist peers (see chart). Each of their tweets is shared an average of 28 times, compared with six for mainstream politicians. The far left is as competent as the right. The swift rise of Spain’s Podemos and Italy’s Five Star Movement owes much to smart social-media campaigns.

Why are strongly left- and right-wing parties so popular on social networks? One reason is that they are prolific. In October Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front, tweeted 626 times. Italy’s Northern League posted on social media once every six minutes this month, on average. Populists also interact with supporters better than mainstream parties do, says Jamie Bartlett of Demos, a think-tank in London. Until recently a 16-year-old girl ran the Twitter account of the English Defence League, a virulently anti-Islamist outfit. She worked long days posting messages and responding to fans.

Social media reward starkness, not subtlety. Ms Le Pen’s tweeting “Bye Bye Schengen” in September was shared 600 times. By contrast, a message from Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, calling for more co-ordination between Europe’s home and foreign policies went largely unnoticed. Politicians on the fringes can react to news faster than their moderate counterparts, whose statements are carefully scrutinised before publication. Matteo Salvini of the Northern League is often quick to comment on Italy’s latest immigration problem. Populists are spurred on by a sense of victimhood and tend to get more “fired up” than the mainstream, explains Peter Neumann of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London.

Parties of left and right do not just make noise online, they also use social media to organise their supporters. One report from Demos shows that over a quarter of online supporters of far-right parties had taken part in a protest in the past six months. Social media are also handy for raising money. Last year Golden Dawn, a Greek neo-Nazi party, had a “Christmas fund-raising drive” on Facebook.

Research on whether tweets can change voters’ minds is inconclusive, but a large study of America’s congressional elections in 2012 showed that politically charged Facebook messages substantially increased voter turnout. And social networks’ role in spreading information is bound to grow. A third of Europeans use such platforms every day, up from a fifth in 2010. Half of them think it is a good way to have their say on political issues. Centrist politicians should stop twiddling their thumbs and get tweeting.
© The Economist


Nepal: Appeal to revise cyber legislation

19/11/2015- The Supreme Court has been asked to direct the government to rectify the Electronic Transactions Act of 2008 which “puts restriction on an individual’s right to expression against the new constitution”. Advocate Pratyush Nath Uprety on Wednesday filed the appeal at the Supreme Court demanding to issue a writ of mandamus to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers so that the clauses 1 and 2 of article 47 in the Electronic Transactions Act are nullified. The article, he argues, curtails the fundamental rights, and can be use by the state to prosecute innocent citizens.

The article 47 states that a person displaying any material in the electronic media which “may be contrary to the public morality or decent behaviour, may spread hate or jealousy against anyone, or may jeopardise the harmonious relations among people shall be liable to the punishment with the fine not exceeding one hundred thousand rupees, or with the imprisonment not exceeding five years, or with both.”

In the writ petition, Uprety appeals that words and phrases in the Act like material, public morality, decent behaviour, hate and jealousy are not defined, and are open to interpretation. Further, the article is in contradiction with article 17 of the Constitution of Nepal 2015 which grants freedom of opinion and expression as a fundamental right along with nine other articles. In the past, the government has been accused of misusing the Act to detain its critics and deter open criticism in social networking sites.
© The Kathmandu Post


Spain: Whatsapp prank could cost joker €600,000

19/11/2015- Barely 72 hours had gone by since the Paris attacks last week – and, although the headline was badly written - this message caused a panic on Whatsapp: “The next attack will be in Estepona, a town in Malaga province in the south of Spain.” The news was untrue of course, as were the images they used, what social media calls 'a fake'. The message they allegedly put into circulation contained a picture of the front page of a national newspaper with the heading ‘Jihadist terrorism hits France again’ and a headline about a future attack in Estepona. However, there was nothing fake about the National Police swinging into action and arresting the three youths aged between 19 and 21, who were allegedly responsible for the prank.

As the message began to spread on local youths’ Whatsapp groups and youngsters told their parents and teachers about it, the Estepona Police had already been informed and had launched an investigation to track down the authors. It didn’t take long. Before officers tracked down a 21-year-old Moroccan man and two of his friends who allegedly made the spoof. Upon their arrest, they claimed it had been a joke. According to Diario Sur, the three have been put in the hands of the court with a view to prosecution for possible crimes of public disorder. And were sure to have stopped laughing at the joke when they found out that the new Citizens’ Security Laws, can include fines up to €600,000.

The police are also investigating another fake message doing the rounds since Monday claiming an armed Jihadist was arrested at Vialia shopping centre in Malaga. This isn’t the first time the police had to act against this type of message and false alarm. In October 2014, during the ebola crisis, officers identified a youth who admitted to having made a mock-up about possible contagion at schools in the city and said he did it to scare his sister. Following each of these incidents the police has asked to people to be careful before sharing this type of message without checking whether they are true as they just help cause panic.
© Euro Weekly News


Fake video, images claim to show Muslim joy over Paris attacks

18/11/2015- One video that was widely shared in the aftermath of the Paris attacks shows a scene of revelry. Men gathered in front of London’s Tooting Broadway Station cheer and fist-pump the air. Full of smiles, some have climbed onto a statue and are waving green flags above their heads. The title of the clip posted to Facebook: “Muslims Around The World Celebrate The Islamic Victory in Paris France.” The video was rapidly disseminated, and with it, the outrage. Social media users pointed to the clip as evidence of violent tendencies in Muslims, while others cited it as a reason to be wary of Syrian refugees. Until Tuesday, only a few ventured to bring up its dubious nature.

After all, the video actually has nothing to do with terrorism — it was filmed in 2009, not last weekend, and it shows Pakistanis celebrating a cricket match victory following the ICC World Twenty20 tournament. A closer examination of the footage reveals that this context makes a lot more sense. The men are chanting “Pakistan,” wearing green clothing and holding up the green crescent moon flag of Pakistan. The flag of the Islamic State is black and marked by a white circle containing the Seal of Muhammad. But still the video was shared as depicted as a perverse celebration of tragedy, generating nearly 500,000 views within hours of being posted on the personal Facebook page of a user named Jean-Baptiste Kim. Though it has since been removed from Facebook, it can still be viewed on YouTube with the incendiary title.

Others have sought to dispel the false claims around the clip, though not nearly to the same viral effect as the original condemnatory posts. It isn’t the only piece of fake “evidence” for Muslim joy over the Paris attacks to have surfaced in the past few days. Internet users are also sharing an image of a bearded man standing atop a French flag while holding up his right fist. He wears a robe that resembles traditional Islamic garbs for men. “Oh Look another ‘Moderate Muslim’ Celebrating the Paris Terrorist attacks…,” read one tweet of the photo that has been shared over 1,000 times.But this image, too, is dated and has no connection to the Paris attacks. A Google search confirms that the photo is two years old, according to The Independent.

Over the weekend, online hoaxers also sought to besmirch the reputation of Veerender Jubbal, a Canadian Sikh man whose smiling bathroom selfie was digitally altered to make it look like he was wearing a suicide bomber vest and holding up the Koran. In the undoctored photo, Jubbal is wearing only a blue plaid shirt and holding up an iPad. The Post’s Soraya McDonald reported that a Twitter user with the (now-suspended) handle @abutalut8 had posted the photo along with the caption, “BREAKING, one Islamic State attacker in #ParisAttacks was a sikh convert to Islam.” A few European news outlets ran the photo as if it were real, while Jubbal, a freelance writer, took to Twitter to clear his name. “Let us start with basics,” he wrote. “Never been to Paris. Am a Sikh dude with a turban. Lives in Canada.”

While these social media campaigns use fake material, the Islamophobic threats that Muslims have faced since the Paris attacks are real. Over the weekend, a Canadian mosque was set ablaze and two others in Florida were threatened. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, KVUE-TV reports. “I’m a red-blooded American watching the news in France,” said one voice mail message left at a St. Petersburg mosque. “Guard your children. I don’t care if you’re extremists or not… Get out of my f—ing country.”  This Monday, a member of the Islamic Center of Pflugerville outside Austin arrived at his mosque to find a torn up Koran covered in feces at the entrance. A hijab-wearing Toronto woman was attacked Tuesday while going to pick up her son from school, the Associated Press reports. She was punched and kicked by two men who yelled slurs, tried to rip off her hijab and stole her cellphone and some cash. “There’s no doubt that this is hate-motivated,” police constable Victor Kwong told the AP. The woman’s brothers told reporters in an emotional address that she had been called “a terrorist” and told to go back home.

In North Carolina, an Ethiopian American Uber driver told WBTV that he was attacked by a passenger who thought he was Muslim. “He said he’s gonna shoot me right in the face. He’s gonna strangle me,” Samson Woldemichael, a Christian, said of the encounter. “I asked him why. He was calling me too many bad word names…insulting me. He told me I was a Muslim.” After the man threatened to kill him, Woldemichael asked him to get out of the car, but the passenger refused to leave. He wanted Woldemichael to get out instead. Then, the passenger began hitting him repeatedly on the forehead. He didn’t get out of the car until Woldemichael started honking his horn in an attempt to get the attention of passersby. As the passenger was leaving, Woldemichael said, “He was saying he would shoot me and he was acting like he’s hiding his hand in his back, so he was acting like he was armed.” The Uber driver, who arrived in the U.S. from Ethiopia eight years ago, told WBTV: “There are people who are not originally from here but who are really Americans in their hearts. They love the system…They believe in America, so it’s better to work with them than generalizing them and attacking them.”
© The Washington Post


UK to target terrorists with cyber attacks

17/11/2015- UK Chancellor George Osborne has said that Britain is stepping up its online intelligence and cyberspace strategies to handle the internet threat posed by the Islamic State. “We reserve the right to respond to a cyber-attack in any way that we choose,” the Chancellor said. He went on to say that anyone who targets the UK should be aware that “we are able to hit back”. Osborne did not give details on the cyber strategies of those affiliated with terrorism against the UK but said that it was more cost effective to launch a cyber attack than to defend against one. He said that the military landscape had changed and cyberspace conflicts are a 21st Century reality as well as the traditional areas of war. Osborne declared that a new National Cyber Centre would be set up with the government´s investment in online security doubling to £1.9 billion (€2.72 billion). Also announced were new initiatives which are being planned to lead teenagers in the development of their cyber skills with a view toward entrepreneurial opportunities.
© Euro Weekly News


UK: Twitter was ‘frustratingly slow’ in responding to campaign of online hate against mp

18/11/2015- Britain’s youngest Jewish MP has described how Twitter’s response to an orchestrated campaign of antisemitism against her on its site was “frustratingly slow”. Speaking in depth publicly for the first time about the abuse she suffered on social media a year ago, Luciana Berger revealed she was still receiving antisemitic tweets, as recently as last weekend. At the height of last year’s weeks-long campaign, police calculated that Labour’s Liverpool Wavertree MP was subjected to 2,500 abusive messages in three days. Ms Berger explained: “The tweets were incredibly abusive, they were threatening, they were distressing. They included images of my face superimposed on concentration camp victims, on very graphic porn images. They used the Star of David.”

She said the police response had been hampered by an initial reluctance to co-operate from social media sites. The online payment site PayPal did stop people sending donations to the neo-Nazi website based in the United States which was orchestrating the hate campaign. Ms Berger said: “It did feel that progress was frustratingly slow. Twitter asked me to report any abusive tweets using what was then quite an onerous online system which took a few minutes to report every tweet.” Although Twitter had taken steps in recent months to improve its reporting mechanisms, it was still unable to block racist images and was selective about the context of offensive words, the 34-year-old said.

“I was particularly concerned about the use of one antisemitic word which was used in a hashtag. I asked them to stop that word but was told they could not block it. There was no justifiable context in which that extremely antisemitic abuse would ever be used,” Ms Berger, who is Shadow Mental Health minister, said. She added: “There is still an abundance of antisemitism on Twitter. I have received more over the weekend. I have a voice as an MP, but I do worry for that young teenage boy or girl who may be the subject of a barrage of hate messages. They may not have the ability to deal with it.” Ms Berger was speaking in Parliament at a meeting about the threat of digital crime on Tuesday. Organised by groups including the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, the session heard Essex Chief Constable Steve Kavanagh warn that there had been a “seismic shift in the way society operates”, with the impact of online abuse challenging traditional policing methods.

Roisin Wood, of the Kick It Out organisation which combats racism in football, said Premier League players and clubs were regularly bombarded with racist, homophobic and misogynist abuse. Italian striker Mario Balotelli, Arsenal’s Danny Welbeck and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge received the most racist tweets, she said, before unveiling a list of the antisemitic terms most commonly seen. The event was also attended by Claire Waxman, a Jewish mother of two who is helping to draft a new law aimed at helping victims of crime.
© The Jewish Chronicle


Social Media Racism in Response to Tragic Paris Shootings

Twitter users responded to Paris attacks in a variety of ways, some racist, and some just expressing horror.

13/11/2015- Following the attacks in Paris on Friday night Twitter users expressed a range of emotions regarding the tragic incident which has left over 100 dead. While people around the world sent condolences, many others reacted without thinking, making assumptions and racist and hateful statements. Conservative French Politician Philippe de Villiers issued comments via Twitter insinuating that freedom of religion was to blame for the attacks. ​"Immense drama in Paris, this is what permissiveness and mosqueization has led to in France," he stated via Twitter, referring to the French authorities granting permission to practitioners of the Muslim faith to build mosques. The Paris attacks also sparked reactions from conservatives in the United States including Steve Kakauer, a former content producer for CNN, who used the attacks as an attempt to minimize the acts of discrimination facing Black students at the University of Missouri.

Well known French Twitter user Albert Chennoufmeyer called on the government to impose restrictions on the right to practice religon. "This time, the state has to make some radical decisions, starting with shutting down all the mosques, all of them. the Muslims have to speak out." The French constitution, however, protects religious freedom and, in practice, the government generally enforces these protections. Nevertheless, in recent years various laws and policies have been enacted imposing restrictions on religious expression in public as well as monitoring of minority religious group activities. An estimated five to 6 million Muslims – 8 to 10 percent of the population – make Islam the second largest religion in the country.

​Conversely, Twitter user Dan Holloway highlighted the painful irony of blaming immigrants and refugees for the Paris attacks stating, “To people blaming refugees for attacks in Paris tonight. Do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from?” Meanwhile, some Muslim Twitter users condemned the attack saying, “As a Muslim, I am more furious than anyone about the #ParisAttack.” The Wikileaks Twitter account also took time to address the incident, high-lighting the glaring double standard when it comes to mourning the deaths of Europeans in comparison to innocent civilians in Syrian and Iraq.
© teleSUR


Germany: Berlin police raid homes in crackdown on right-wing 'hate speech'

Police have raided buildings in the German capital in a crackdown on far-right hate speech. Officers confiscated smart phones and computers and urged social networks to help slow the spread of xenophobic content.

12/11/2015- State security officials were said to be systematically investigating individuals for incitement against asylum seekers and refugee housing. A total of 10 search warrants were executed. If charged and convicted of incitement, individuals face heavy fines or even imprisonment. Berlin's top security official, Frank Henkel, said authorities "won't turn away if racism or incitement is being spread on the Internet." Henkel called on social network operators to put in place more effective controls to combat hate speech. Facebook, in particular, has been accused of doing too little to deal with the issue in Germany. Germany's domestic intelligence service has warned of a radicalization of right-wing groups amid a record influx of migrants into Germany. There have been protests against refugee homes and clashes with police in several towns, mostly in the former communist East Germany.
© The Deutsche Welle.


French paper publishes Facebook 'hate-speech' from Calais migrant articles

Le Nord Littoral outs those behind offensive comments using their Facebook names as journalists take a stand over ‘unspeakable remarks’

12/11/2015- A French newspaper has taken action against what it deems hate-speech posted below reports about Calais migrants, by publishing a series of the most offensive messages from its Facebook page, along with the names of the posters. Calais-based Le Nord Littoral reports daily on the port and the situation there, which has resulted in thousands of people living in a squalid, open-air camp, hoping to reach the UK. Its editors said the offensive comments posted on the paper’s Facebook page had reached such extreme proportions of hate speech that it had to take a stand. Le Nord Littoral published several comments that had been made below its articles about the migrants in Calais, giving the Facebook names of the posters.

One had written: “Why not build a concentration camp?” Another, below a piece about people rescued from the water at Calais as they tried to swim to a boat, wrote “they still need some training”, suggesting that with luck “some might die”. Beneath another piece about migrants and the ring road, a reader posted: “Just run over them, after a dozen, they’ll calm down.” Another said: “Hauliers should be armed and shouldn’t hesitate to shoot.” The paper said it shared news articles on its Facebook page that often elicited strong reactions and being able to share ideas and compare arguments was a plus for France. However, Le Nord Littoral added: “For several months, the comments on the topic of immigration have offered up a stack of unspeakable remarks.”

The paper said taking a stand against offensive comments did not mean it was being pro-migrant. People in Calais had the right to say they did not want migrants in their town and the paper would never censor anyone’s comment saying so, it added. “However, from now on, we will flag up any comment that is reprehensible in the eyes of the law. For the good of everyone and out of respect.” Hate speech is outlawed in France and, since the terrorist attacks in January at Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket that left 17 dead, the government has launched a major campaign to contain the steep rise in racism and hate speech.

Le Nord Littoral’s initiative follows a similar approach by the German newspaper Bild, which last month published a double-page spread of offensive messages from internet commentators to denounce a rise in hate-speech. Le Nord Littoral journalist Julien Pouyet told BFMTV: “The idea came from the fact we had had enough of reading daily messages of hatred towards migrants and journalists, often with death threats. We moderate these comments when we see them or when they are flagged up to us, and we regularly publish a reminder of the law on our Facebook page, but that wasn’t enough. So we decided to crack down.” The Calais Socialist MP Brigitte Bourguignon supported the move and, with a collective called Faites de la Tolérance, has launched her own petition for more moderation of racist comments and hate speech on social media.
© The Guardian


Ukraine: Cyberwar’s Hottest Front

Ukraine gives glimpse of future conflicts where attackers combine computer and traditional assaults

9/11/2015- Three days before Ukraine’s presidential vote last year, employees at the national election commission arrived at work to find their dowdy Soviet-era headquarters transformed into the front line of one of the world’s hottest ongoing cyberwars. The night before, while the agency’s employees slept, a shadowy pro-Moscow hacking collective called CyberBerkut attacked the premises. Its stated goal: To cripple the online system for distributing results and voter turnout throughout election day. Software was destroyed. Hard drives were fried. Router settings were undone. Even the main backup was ruined. The carnage stunned computer specialists the next morning. “It was like taking a cold shower,” said Victor Zhora, director of the Ukrainian IT firm Infosafe, which helped set up the network for the elections. “It really was the first strike in the cyberwar.”

In just 72 hours, Ukraine would head to the polls in an election crucial to cementing the legitimacy of a new pro-Western government, desperate for a mandate as war exploded in the country’s east. If the commission didn’t offer its usual real-time online results, doubts about the vote’s legitimacy would further fracture an already divided nation. The attack ultimately failed to derail the vote. Ukrainian computer specialists mobilized to restore operations in time for the elections. But the intrusion heralded a new era in Ukraine that showed how geopolitical confrontation with Russia could give rise to a nebulous new cabal of cyberfoes, bent on undermining and embarrassing authorities trying to break with the Kremlin.

In the last two years, cyberattacks have hit Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense and the presidential administration. Military communications lines and secure databases at times were compromised, according to Ukrainian presidential and security officials. A steady flow of hacked government documents have appeared on the CyberBerkut website. Ukraine offers a glimpse into the type of hybrid warfare that Western military officials are urgently preparing for: battles in which traditional land forces dovetail with cyberattackers to degrade and defeat an enemy. It also illustrates the difficulties that nations face in identifying and defending against a more powerful cyberfoe.

Ukrainian leaders are lacking in capabilities needed to mount a response to the electronic attacks. North Atlantic Treaty Organization members last year agreed to fund and build a new cyberdefense command center for Kiev, but legislative and bureaucratic delays have stalled the project. Ukraine is still working on passing a new law designed to step up its digital defenses. Officials in Kiev are united in their accusations about who is orchestrating or commissioning the hundreds of cyberattacks they have tallied: Russia. They cite Russia’s military doctrine that describes cyberweaponry as a key pillar of the country’s armed forces and the adoption of “enhanced and nonmilitary measures” to achieve military goals. The officials, however, didn’t offer any smoking gun linking the attacks to Moscow’s security services. “We consider that there is only one country in the world that would benefit from these attacks, and this is Russia,” said Vitaliy Naida, Ukraine’s head of counterintelligence.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the accusations, calling them “absurd” and noting that Russian computers are also regularly attacked by hackers. The Kremlin has denied that Russian military personnel played a role in occupying parts of east Ukraine and in backing rebels there. CyberBerkut posted its claim of responsibility for the election commission hack on its website a day after the attack. The group presents itself as an independent Ukrainian organization. It didn’t respond to requests sent via its website for comment about allegations that it works on behalf of Russia. It has never revealed the names of its members. U.S. spies and security researchers say Russia is particularly skilled at developing hacking tools. They blame Russia for breaking into President Barack Obama’s email and infiltrating unclassified servers at the Pentagon and State Department. Russia has denied the accusations. challenging any attempt to put up defenses.

Ukrainian government officials, including those in the security services and military, habitually conducted official business via personal email addresses hosted by Russian-language email platforms with servers based in Russia, according to Mr. Naida, the counterintelligence chief. Ukraine has a plethora of criminal hackers, who are pursued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Ukraine’s recently launched cyberpolice for their alleged role in bank fraud, among other crimes, but the Ukrainian government hasn’t recruited them for cyber counterattacks or defense against Russia, according to Mr. Naida. When Russia seized Crimea and backed the uprising in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in early 2014, cyberinvaders had easy access to the country’s largely unguarded electronic frontiers.

Even today, more than half of Ukrainian government computers operate pirated software, lacking proper security updates, and many also use Russian antivirus software, according to Dmytro Shymkiv, the deputy head of the presidential administration and a former Microsoft executive in Ukraine. These vulnerabilities mean that since last year hundreds of government computers have been compromised by malware designed for espionage, according to Ukrainian officials and computer experts who have investigated the attacks. Computer engineers say most of those infections trace back to four unique computer virus families that have developed independently of one another but share certain basic characteristics. The virus creators typed in Cyrillic; they worked in a time zone that encompasses Moscow and Kiev; and they included sophisticated coding likely requiring full-time efforts, indicating sponsorship by a nation-state.

“These are very customized,” said Alan Neville, from the computer security response department at Symantec Corp. , a global computer security company. “No one is going to take time to develop a tool unless they are under orders to do so or have a contract to do so.” One computer virus strain targeting the Ukrainian government was malware first used in a Russian Ponzi scheme in 2012, which hackers have retooled for cyberespionage, according to security company ESET, which analyzed the malware for its Ukrainian clients. Another separate strain is an evolved version of malware that attacked U.S. military’s Central Command computer servers in 2008, a virus that U.S. officials believe was developed by Russian state agencies. Russia has denied this allegation.

The enhanced virus—dubbed Turla, or Snake in English—infected Ukrainian diplomatic computers, according to computer experts familiar with the situation, as an intrusive tool to steal sensitive data. Primary targets were Ukrainian embassies in Europe, including those in Belgium and France, these people said. Through the summer of 2014, Ukraine’s diplomats lobbied Western capitals to take a stronger stance against Moscow’s aggression. “Turla started to appear in Ukraine starting with the beginning of the conflict early last year,” says Alex Gostev, chief security expert at Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab. Dmytro Shevchenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said cyberattacks against the ministry’s institutions took place “steadily, all the time” during 2014, aimed primarily at espionage. He didn’t detail the type of viruses. Mr. Naida said that infections haven’t penetrated the ministry’s classified servers.

Western officials said the Foreign Ministry breach was inconvenient, but that it didn’t adversely affect Ukraine’s diplomatic goals. The ministry’s attempt to parry the infection last year was to delete work email identities of its diplomats and assign them new email addresses on new servers. Ukraine’s government computer specialists also tackled the infection. Within the armed forces, cyberattackers have targeted security units battling pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, including a classified computer network at the military headquarters in Kramatorsk, according to Mr. Naida. “The aim was to kill all the information, to destroy all the information on those computers” to cripple intelligence-gathering and decision-making by commanders, he said. He declined to give specifics about the damage caused by the attack.

Political upheaval
By the time of the May 2014 election, Ukraine’s new pro-Western leaders were desperate to cement their authority. Pro-Western demonstrators in Kiev had forced President Viktor Yanukovych to step down. Russia was covertly supporting a territorial grab by rebels in the east, and the new acting president lacked a mandate to lead Ukraine’s troops. Ukraine itself was divided. Russian propaganda regularly assailed the acting authorities in Kiev as an illegitimate “junta” installed by the West. A large swath of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east sympathized. Amid this political friction, election commission officials finished the routine preparations for a national vote. They commissioned a commercial computer company to help set up the necessary IT infrastructure to upload preliminary results and voter turnout numbers.

Three days before the Sunday election, CyberBerkut issued a statement denouncing the vote. “The anti-people junta is trying to legalize itself by organizing this show, directed by the West,” the group said. “We will not allow it!” At around 3 a.m. Thursday, the group launched its attack, spending hours rooting through the network and destroying data, according to Ukrainian officials and computer experts. When the workday started, the agency’s staff discovered the damage. They no longer had the ability to provide a real-time tally of the voting results. Although Ukrainian voters would still be able to cast their paper ballots, a lack of immediate official results could hurt the election’s legitimacy. With just over 48 hours until the start of the election, Ukraine’s cyberspecialists, including those in the security service, camped out at the election agency headquarters, some fueled by Red Bull to keep them awake, as they tried to rebuild the system. “Our people didn’t sleep for five days,” Mr. Zhora said.

The details of the events in the days after the attack come from interviews with four Ukrainian security and election officials and computer experts involved in the investigation. The specialists immediately had a lucky break: The original team that had set up the network had created a second backup of the system, disconnected from the Internet, giving them a timesaving head start. CyberBerkut taunted the commission. It released a string of documents from the election agency’s network, including photos of the election commissioner’s bathroom renovation, pictures of his and his wife’s passports and emails sent by Western officials to Ukrainian election organizers. “Before there were little things—[distributed denial of service] attacks and viruses. But this was a serious, preplanned attack,” said Valeriy Striganov, the head IT operator at the election commission.

The attackers published online what they called a “report on the hack,” which included a detailed map of the Central Election Commission’s computer network. The group claimed to have penetrated the system using a zero-day vulnerability—an unknown hole in a software application—in the network’s Cisco firewall. Ukrainian authorities later passed the information to Cisco Systems Inc. The U.S.-based company said it found no vulnerability in its product. At election headquarters, the team scrambled to bolster the system’s defenses against any fresh attack. They tightened restrictions over who could access the election results data. They also cut off Internet access to computers at commission headquarters. By the time the sun rose on May 25, the downed system had come back to life, and Ukrainians headed to the polls. But a fresh assault had already started.

Hackers bombed the Central Election Commission website with a distributed denial-of-service attack, attempting to bring the system down again by causing it to seize up from the volume and intensity of computer messages. The site stayed up, thanks to the stronger defenses. As Sunday progressed, preliminary results indicated that Petro Poroshenko, a chocolate tycoon and former foreign minister, was on pace to win a majority. Exit polls also suggested a poor showing by far-right candidates, despite Russian state media warning of a fascist takeover in Ukraine. Then, one of the far-right candidates appeared to get a strange boost. A hoax chart depicting a victory for extreme-right candidate Dmytro Yarosh appeared online. The Central Election Commission seemed to be hosting the file.

Soon, Russia’s most popular state news program was showing the chart on air. Hackers appear to have placed the file on the server that usually hosts the election commission website, and then circulated that Web address, according to people familiar with the incident, who said the image wasn’t accessible to the general public from the main home page at the time. In a statement, CyberBerkut suggested it wasn’t responsible for the faked results, saying those looking for answers should ask Ukraine’s election commissioner. No other claim of responsibility has been made. The faked results were almost immediately debunked, and Russian television posted authentic tallies from the election commission. The day ended with Mr. Poroshenko winning 55% of the vote.

The head of the Special Communications Service at the time characterized the election attack as an urgent warning of Ukraine’s vulnerabilities. It was one of the few sizable attacks publicized by Ukrainian authorities, in part because specialists managed to salvage the system. Attacks that cause irreparable damage tend to go unrevealed. “Very often when there is a real penetration you will never hear [about it], because it’s never disclosed,” says Mr. Shymkiv. “At the same time, when somebody defends it, you will hear the stories.”
© The Wall Street Journal.


UK: Twitter accounts shut after Jewish student abused for reporting anti-Semitism online

4/11/2015- The image of a ‘ Hitler was right’’ sticker was posted on Twitter by the university’s student education officer Izzy Lenga. She wrote: “For those who don’t think anti-Semitism is a serious issue, these were plastered over campus.” Izzy posted the sticker on Twitter and quickly attracted abuse from neo-Nazis. But Lenga’s Twitter feed was later bombarded with dozens of anti-Semitic slurs and cartoons. One message she received said: “HAHAHA. POP EM IN THE OVEN’, while another Twitter user wrote: “Hitler hated all people of colour, stop making this just about the jews. They whine enough as it is. #HitlerWASRight.” A further tweet said: “Hitler was right! The Holocaust was a big fat lie, and Hitler was a great man.”

But a number of accounts have since been removed. A Community Security Trust spokesman said: “CST spoke directly with Twitter and as a result some of the offensive accounts were shut down. Nevertheless, the nature of twitter means others can and do arise, so these will need dealing with. The police have also been informed of the situation.” Meanwhile, police in Birmingham are investigating the anti-Semitic poster which was discovered outside the library at the university. The posters have now been removed and will be forensically examined to try and identify who was responsible.

Sergeant David Cotter from Birmingham Police said: “We take reports of hate crime extremely seriously and are working closely with the university to make it a safe place for everyone who works and studies there. “This kind of behaviour is offensive and completely unacceptable and our investigation to identify those responsible is already progressing.” The university said: “We condemn racist graffiti, have reported it to the police and are working with them to identify and catch those involved.” A number of Twitter users lauded the theology student’s bravery in taking a stand. Luciana Berger, who has herself been targeted by a campaign of online anti-Semitism, condemned the “vilest, darkest abuse”. Lenga replied: “Together we can fully expose the nasty racism and sexism that exists in society today”
© Jewish News UK


Netherlands: After swimming and cycling, internet safety is key for Dutch kids

2/11/2015- Dutch school children should be required to pass a digital skills test to guarantee the continuation of the Dutch internet economy, an independent think tank said on Monday. The national cyber security council, which is made up of government, academics and the corporate sector, says the move is needed because children have little knowledge about the risks attached to the internet. ‘If the Netherlands fails to invest enough in cyber security, our prosperity and society are not being well-served,’ the council said in a report for the education ministry. ‘The Netherlands’ digital future needs to be secured. That can be done by ensuring there are enough cyber security professionals and that Dutch children are prepared for a digital future,’ the council said. ‘Just as it is important to get a swimming and cycling certificate, it is important that children become internet savvy from primary school. It will make them aware of and interested in the digital world.’
© The Dutch News


USA: Anonymous To Share KKK Identities On Ferguson Cyberwar Anniversary

1/11/2015- Of course, there is the fact that the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center both classify the various Klan organizations as hate groups. The anons involved in this operation still believe you no longer particularly deserve the right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom to the Assemble, but that is not up to us. They took over the KKK's Twitter account and replaced its logo with their own. The date is significant in that it coincides with Anonymous' first organized "hoods off" operation and public spat with the Klan. Anonymous maintains that the goal of the operation is strictly digital, noting in its press release that the group is non-violent.

Police Chief Brandon del Pozo, who spoke at the rally, said he has not yet determined whether a crime was committed, but his department is investigating the source of the Ku Klux Klan flier. This can be done through sharing thoughts and ideas about the hate group on Twitter and other social media platforms by including the hashtags #OpKKK and #HoodsOff. As The Guardian in November of 2014, Anonymous started taking action against the KKK after the white supremacist group threatened to use "lethal force" against Ferguson protesters. You mess with our families, now, we will mess with yours. "The blood of thousands of human beings are on the hands of the Klansmen... the KKK no longer has the right to express their racist, bigoted opinions", it said.

"Communities of color in Vermont, people of color in Vermont have so few safe spaces here and so when the safety of your home is really violated by something like this, I think it's important that we hold BPD accountable and we hold our community members accountable to keep us people of color safe", Wheeler said. 'You operate much more like terrorists and you should be recognized as such. "You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level", the group said, according to The Huffington Post. "You seek to intimidate and/or eliminate those that are different from you and those that you dislike by any means possible", said the group in the statement. The hacking group Anonymous is escalating its cyber war against the Ku Klux Klan. "We are trying to change our world".
© The Inside Korea


Headlines October 2015

USA: This Vigilante Hacker is Taking Down Racist Websites

28/10/2015- For the last ten days, a vigilante hacker only known as “Amped Attacks” has been attacking and briefly taking down racist websites like Porch Monkeys, Ku Klux Klan-affiliated portals, and skinhead sites. “KKK and all RACIST I have a question,” he tweeted on Saturday. “How does it feel knowing one man is taking you all down one by one?” The Amped Attacks vigilante, who claimed to be a white 27-year-old Navy veteran, said he has taken down more than 40 racist websites in ten days. His motivation is to expose racists, such as members of the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) and neo-nazis, and let them know “someone is watching them,” he said. “My main mission is drawing attention to all racism, because this is no longer the 1800s, early 1900s,” he told me in a Skype call. “We’re living in an era where everybody should be accepted.”

Amped Attacks’ activities seem to be the latest example of online vigilantism, loosely inspired by the hacktivist collective Anonymous. The group gained widespread notoriety a few years ago by taking down websites by flooding them with bogus traffic. These attacks are technically known as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and have become very easy to pull off thanks to readily available off-the-shelf software that helps automate them. “DDoS is incredibly simplistic, at a purely technological level,” Molly Sauter, a doctoral student at McGill University who has written a book about how DDoS attacks are a form of online civil disobedience, told Motherboard last year.

But Amped Attacks says DDoS’ing websites is just the beginning. On Halloween, he said he will release the full names and locations of the members of the websites and forums that he’s hacked. In other words, he wants to dox them. (He said that he won’t publish their full home addresses to prevent a real-life “vigilante” from showing up at their doorstep.) His final goal is for the authorities to investigate his targets, who he believes are committing “hate crimes,” he said. “I guess I’m the one gathering proof for them to start their own investigation,” he said.

Gabriella Coleman, a sociologist who has studied and written a book about Anonymous, told me that after the high profile activities of that hacktivist group, as well as others’, like PhineasFisher, who exposed the secrets of the surveillance tech companies FinFisher and Hacking Team, these vigilantes “are going to proliferate.” But Amped Attacks has already gotten the negative attention of another notorious online vigilante, the patriotic hacker only known as The Jester. The hacker criticized Amped Attacks for being a copycat, targeting ISIS websites, and using the military expression “Tango Down” when announcing a successful takedown, an expression that the Jester usually uses too. The Jester also said Amped Attacks briefly took down his site earlier this week, something that “shows what he's really about.”

“His motivation is press attention, like all of these kids,” The Jester told me in a direct message on Twitter. “They don't really believe in their stated 'causes.'” (The Jester also added that Amped Attacks' actions are not as sophisticated as his.) Amped Attacks, however, said that he’s attacking racist websites because even though he knows he is not going to fix racism alone, “I just want to know for myself that I did what I could.”
This article has been updated to add the Jester's comment on the sophistication of Amped Attack's actions.
© Motherboard


Polish kids shirk online presence over hate speech

Many children in Poland admit they shy away from posting their photographs and videos on the internet for fear of becoming the target of trigger-happy trolls.

29/10/2015- Online hate is the number one threat as perceived by young Internet users, admits Martyna Ró¿ycka, of cyber watchdog dy¿ As the expert adds, verbal assault, ridicule and humiliation are not something children are well-equipped to deal with. "They have some ideas, such as responding to hate with hate, or ignoring abusive behaviour, but very often they simply bring their online activity to a halt," Ró¿ycka says. However, "it is important that they continue operating online, creating and sharing their output with fellow internet users and are immune to [hate]." It is up to schools and parents to educate kids about ways to maintaining a healthy discussion, and respecting views we don't necessarily agree with, she stresses.

"Let's set a good example − if we ourselves engage in online hate against political figures or national minorities, then little wonder that our kids are incapable of presenting their course of reasoning," Ró¿ycka adds. According to a study run by Nobody's Children Foundation, some 40 percent of young people aged between 14 and 17 have become the target of abusive comments posted online. The rate reached 45 percent among those aged between 16 and 17. As the research shows, verbal attack and derision heightens the risk of depression and anxiety disorders.
© The News - Poland


How to Fight "Facebook Terrorists"

26/10/2015- The current surge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been characterized by a massive use of social media. Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp and Twitter all serve as platforms to deliver messages of hate, call for violent actions and sharing of gruesome pictures or videos from recent attacks. Smartphones are used to take pictures and videos which are instantly shared in WhatsApp groups, Facebook posts and a few hours later reach headlines of mainstream media. The development of technology, the human thirst for reality TV and media greed for profits help perpetuate an intractable conflict and keep it in a vicious constantly growing circle.

The central role which social media receives in the current wave of violence is demonstrated through political statements and discussions. On October 19th, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that " what we see here is a linkage between fundamentalist Islam and internet, between Bin-Laden and Zuckerberg". Moreover, on October 15th the Knesset held a special day to discuss " Fighting cyber-bullying and online violence on the virtual space and social media". Simon Milner - Facebook's policy director in the UK and MENA region attended the discussion and expressed Facebook's policies and views about the situation " Nothing is more important than the safety of people using Facebook... We also want to help the people who use Facebook in Israel to understand our Community Standards and encourage you to use our reporting tools if you see content that doesn’t belong on Facebook...When content is reported to us we investigate to see if it breaches our standards and if it does, we take it down".

It is important to note that social media is not one of the causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but its features make it an effective, tactical tool that can be used in any conflict. Its applications allow more people to be exposed to more information in almost real time. The audience is not bound to censorship or professional interpretation, leaving the "truth" to be decided according to one's nationalistic behavior and emotional intelligence. While each side believes that using social media will help it win its narrative, the net effect on the conflict is negative - the conflict is exacerbated, hate, prejudice and violence increase.

Theoretically, the same social media applications can be used to spread messages of peace and reconciliation, thus promoting security and stability. In reality however, conflict mitigating content in social media is less in quantity and weak in effectiveness. In times of harsh conflict, group solidarity receives high importance by its members. Those who promote peaceful messages are usually excluded as traitors and unrealistic as the rosy picture they portray irritates the majority that is "living the true struggle". Nevertheless, Social media can be an effective tool in conflict resolution when the content is monitored and users are taking part in a structured and facilitated process performed in smaller groups. Since it is impossible to monitor all of the content that is uploaded to social media and the only measures to deal with destructive content are left to users who can "unfriend", report or delete it, it is up to the social media companies themselves to develop and install conflict mitigation features in social media applications.

Such features should be developed by tech and conflict professionals and be based on dispute resolution principles that will be adapted technologically. Users should first understand the damage their posting or sharing of violent content causes and secondly to be prevented from doing so, by warning them, blocking the content and limiting their access to their account. Since "reporting" dangerous content as a monitoring tool has many flaws such as non-objectivity and time that passes until the harmful post is deleted, there is a need for a tool which is identifies content immediately and blocks it from being posted and shared. Internet giants should invest in developing algorithms that identify certain key words or violent footage and manage its exposure - in the same way they control pornographic content.

A good example for a build-in conflict mitigation software is Ebay's Dispute Resolution Center that was created to manage acquisition and transaction disputes. Ebay's decision to develop this application is rooted in its own interests. Recognizing that the process of buying and selling goods online will sometimes end up in disputes, it is in the interest of the company to have a mechanism to resolve those. Since Facebook, Twitter and other social media applications still do not have similar effective mechanisms, it implies that they still did not have a business interest in developing it. If moral considerations will not drive them, it will be up to governments to use legal measures which will ensure that social media is not used to enhance and perpetuate conflicts.​
© Segal Conflict Management


Germany Probes Complaint Alleging Facebook Incitement

German prosecutors are examining a criminal complaint against three people alleging that Facebook facilitates incitement.

19/10/2015- Nana Frombach, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Hamburg, said Monday her authority has opened an investigation but is still trying to establish whether there is a case for anyone to answer. News portal Spiegel Online reported that the people targeted by the complaints are listed as managers of Facebook Germany GmbH, a unit based in Hamburg. Spiegel Online said the complaint was filed by a Bavaria-based lawyer who pointed to hate speech on Facebook related to the refugee crisis and other matters. Facebook didn't immediately comment on the case. German officials have met Facebook representatives to push for faster deletion of hate speech.
© The Associated Press


USA: Tech Giants Facebook, Google, Yahoo Speak Out Against Cyber Security Bill 'CISA'

15/10/2015- Privacy activists aren’t the only ones who hate CISA. A lobbying group representing some of the most powerful technology companies in the world said Thursday it opposes the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill due for consideration in the U.S. Senate. The bill, which proposes to “improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes,” has undergone a number of revisions since it was introduced in July 2014. The primary concern for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, and other privacy organizations has been that vague language in the bill would remove safeguards meant to prevent companies from sharing customer information without their permission. Now, it seems, the group representing Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and multiple cybersecurity companies agrees.

“CISA’s prescribed mechanism for sharing of cyber threat information does not sufficiently protect users’ privacy or appropriately limit the permissible uses of information shared with the government,” the Computer and Communications Industry Association said in a statement. The group also represents Netflix, eBay, Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile and others. “In addition, the bill authorizes entities to employ network defense measures that might cause collateral harm to the systems of innocent third parties. …. Current legal authorities permit companies to share cyber threat indicators with the government where necessary to protect their rights and the rights of their users, and should not be discounted as useful existing mechanisms.”

This statement comes after Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif, and Richard Burr, R-N.C., the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, cited a breach at T-Mobile/Experian as proof that Congress should pass CISA quickly. The problem, according to cybersecurity experts, is that the Experian was hacked only after the credit data company implemented encryption incorrectly. CISA wouldn’t have made a difference.
© The International Business Times


USA: App aims to put stop to cyber bullying

12/10/2015- It’s being called a hate virus, kids going online to bully others, but there’s a way for parents to now figure out if their kids are part of the problem and if so, put a stop to it immediately. A University of Tampa graduate created the app “My Social Sitter” that is now used worldwide. The technology intercepts, analyzes, and filters inappropriate content in its tracks. “We have over 300,000 words and sentiments in six different languages,” says Michele Joel explaining how the My Social Sitter app works. “So a parent would get a text message or email alert if any message that their child sends out is rejected.” New numbers show this is a serious problem, with more than 70 percent of school children reporting being cyber bullied during the course of a school year. “Kids send out hundreds of messages a day,” Joel said. “Now, we can make sure our kids are sending the right messages, and put a stop to cyber bullying.” My Social Sitter also flags sexually explicit content.


UK: Crime set to soar overnight as 'cyber' offences included in official total

Police and industry experts predict millions of extra victims will be reflected in new data from the Office for National Statistics

13/10/2015- Cyber crime will officially become the country's most common offence this week, with the total number of victims of crime soaring by millions overnight. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is to issue new statistics on Thursday which will include cyber crime for the first time. Previous ONS studies have estimated the number of cyber crimes at between three and four million per year - meaning there will be a dramatic rise on the annual number of offences in England and Wales, last estimated at 6.8 million. Police have warned the change will lead to an instant 40 per cent increase in the number of crimes set out in the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW).

According to one respected industry estimate the impact could be even more dramatic, and lead to crime almost tripling with the addition of 12.5 million online offences a year. It will be the first time that families suffering identity theft, “phishing” scams and electronic attacks on their computers and bank accounts have been included in the figures, which have been widely criticised for lagging far behind crime trends. The data will pose a major problem for Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who has repeatedly claimed that crime levels are in decline, despite fears the figures were missing out large chunks of fraud and electronic crime. The most recent CSEW said there were 6.8 million offences in the year to the end of March, based on an estimate from interviewing tens of thousands of people about their experiences of crime.

One police source conceded this figure will soar when new data emerges on Thursday. “There are already estimates that the addition of cybercrime will add three to four million offences to the total but it could be much higher than that,” said the source. “It’s possible it will double, or more. “There will certainly be a significant increase in crime.” He added: “Many in the police have said for a long time that traditional crime like burglary have been in steep decline because criminals are going online. “Finally, the official figures will be recognising that changing pattern.” Earlier this year the ONS warned that even initial estimates had shown the major change in the way the crime survey works would lead to a rise of up to 3.8 million offences a year. The Telegraph understands that further work by the ONS has led to an even larger increase.

If, as expected, fraud and cybercrime top four million they will become the largest single category of crime beating all types of theft, which stood at 4,042,000 in latest annual figures. A report by Norton, the online security company, said in 2013 that more than 12.5 million people had fallen victim to cybercrime in the previous 12 months. The cost of these cyber crimes to the UK was estimated at £1.8 billion with an average cost of £144 per cybercrime victim. Earlier this year the City of London police said the true scale of crime in Britain was far higher than previously thought because 85 per cent of fraud and cybercrime went unreported. 

The Commons’ cross-party home affairs select committee also looked at the issue in 2013 and concluded in a report: “Current recording practises are inadequate to give an accurate picture of the extent to which reported crime is committed over the internet.” It added that cybercriminals committing lower-level offences online were simply getting away with it and appeared to be “untouchable”. “We are very concerned that there appears to be a ‘black hole’ where low-level e-crime is committed with impunity,” it said. “Criminals who defraud victims of a small amount of money are often not reported to or investigated by law enforcement and banks simply reimburse victims". “Criminals who commit a high volume of low level fraud can still make huge profits.”

In a separate development, official figures published on Tuesday showed hate crime reported to the police jumped by nearly a fifth last year to more than 52,000 incidents. Home Office data disclosed an 18 per cent rise in the offences in 2014/15, up from just under 44,500 in the previous 12 months. The majority, 82 per cent, were race hate incidents, while just under 5,600 surrounded a victim's sexual orientation. Six per cent, or 3,254, were religion hate crimes, but this category saw the largest rise, up 43 per cent year-on-year. The Telegraph reported earlier this week how David Cameron was to announce that anti-Muslim attacks will now being recorded as a specific category in crime statistics as part of his bid to build a “national coalition” to tackle extremism in the UK.
© The Telegraph


Ad Hoc Israeli Facebook Campaign Battles Hatred of Arabs

But it’s not nearly as popular as the racist posting that spurred the group on.

12/10/2015- It’s little surprise that the wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis is riling social media. An Israeli soldier named Eden Levy, however, posted a photo on Facebook that would only charm the far right — she had scrawled on her palm: “Hating Arabs isn’t racism, it reflects values.” Levy removed the photo after it had garnered 20,000 likes within hours. In a later post she qualified her statement; she said she had meant “Muslim/terrorist Arabs who seek to harm our people. It wasn’t my intention to include in this category Druze or Bedouin or the entire Arab nation.” Levy said she removed the post because she was in uniform and thus prohibited from expressing political views online.

Sure enough, a Hebrew-language counter-initiative was launched; it translates as “hate is not a value, racism is not the way.” “Hatred floats to the surface, the number of attacks increases, and it’s hard to remain calm and not be afraid when the whole time your phone alerts you about another attack,” wrote two female soldiers on the page. “Fear crosses political lines, right and left, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, because anyone could be the target of the next attack.” Ofer Gelfand, a 20-year-old student, helped launch the campaign and MK Dov Knenin (Joint List) is one of the people who joined.

“We started this because we wanted to express a different voice that counters the hatred and racism prevailing both on Facebook and in the public conversation on both sides of the barrier. We wanted to inspire people like ourselves who are afraid to express their views due to the inflamed atmosphere,” Gelfand said. “Most responses we’ve received have been supportive, but I’ve also received abusive ones. My friends and I are trying to respond with respect in an attempt to foster a dialogue.” Numerically, the opponents of racism don’t exactly have the upper hand — one of the most popular posts received 1,500 likes, far behind Levy’s 20,000. “I don’t think we’re a drop in the bucket. Many people are with me, posting and sharing, responding and searching for partners on this path,” Gelfand said. “The issue of likes doesn’t interest us; we just want people to hear a different voice so that a different awareness is formed. We have hundreds of shares that spread the word throughout the country.”
© Haaretz


India: Government to crack down on 'hate sites' fueling sectarianism

10/10/2015- Hate-mongering on the Internet, aimed at creating communal unrest in the country, has prompted the Government to come up with a strategy to combat the threat. Sources said while certain websites face a ban, the Government is making efforts to ensure hate content is removed from platforms like Twitter and Facebook. The action was promoted after an assessment done by agencies monitoring the online content says that several websites and social media are being widely used as a tool for creating communal flare-ups. Sources said while certain websites face a ban, the Government is making efforts to ensure that the hate content is removed from platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Officials said a meeting is scheduled in the coming week to review the status and a decision to ban websites spreading communally charged views will be taken. “A lot of content is being used to instigate people and incite bloodshed. The cyber space is being used as a platform to spread venom in an organised manner,” said a Government official. In most cases it’s just rumour-mongering aimed at creating communal unrest, officials said. Following the lynching of a Muslim man on the outskirts of Delhi over rumours of beefeating by his family, there has been circulation of hate messages, pictures, audios and videos with communal overtones and hate content. Sources said intelligence agencies are also tracking certain fringe organisations suspected to be playing a pivotal role in this. “We have certain organisations on our radar. Individuals associated with these organisations have taken to social media and freely propagating hatred,” said an official.

Officials of Ministries of Home and Telecommunication and agencies like Intelligence Bureau (IB), National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) and Computer Emergency Response Emergency Team-India (CERT-In) are deliberating on the immediate measures to combat the growing use of the cyber space for spreading communal hatred. Setting up of a 24x7 ‘Situation Room’ to analyse and generate intelligence on social media as a collaborative initiative involving several ministries is also being discussed. Ministries of Home, Information Technology, I&B and External Affairs can be part of this set-up initially. While intelligence agencies are currently scrutinising social media and the cyber space, there is no dedicated inter-ministerial mechanism for this. Recently, a meeting chaired by Deputy National Security Adviser Arvind Gupta was held to discuss the subject.

The arrest of Bengaluru-based executive Mehdi Masroor Biswas for allegedly putting material favouring terror group ISIS last year had alerted intelligence agencies about the threat on cyber space that has become the new formula for terror groups. Sources say there are close to 30,000 such Twitter handles and other social media forums spewing venom and little can be done to monitor all of them and act in time. Several Indian youths who were intercepted from travelling to Syria to join ISIS were also lured on cyber space by seeing propaganda videos and being indoctrinated through online chats. It’s not just terror groups but also reactions to volatile developments within the country that have the potential to disrupt public order. Sources said it has been noticed public rage on social media can lead to a law and order problem.
© The Daily Mail


Myanmar: A safe connection

A new report says IT growth must come in line with measures to protect human rights in the industry

10/10/2015- As Myanmar’s IT industry attracts record levels of investment and its citizens become increasingly better connected, a report has raised concern about human rights abuses in the sector. The joint venture between state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications and Japan’s KDDI, and the rollout by international players Ooredoo and Telenor, have given record numbers of consumers access to mobile phones and faster internet connections. In 2012, Myanmar’s mobile phone penetration rate, at less than 10 percent, was one of the lowest in the world. Two years later, a third of the country’s 53 million people had access to a mobile phone, showed data from the 2014 census.

In its Myanmar ICT Sector-Wide Impact Assessment, the Myanmar Centre for Responsibly Business warns of the risk of human rights threats from the rapid increase in the use of mobile phones, the internet and other information technology. “ICT is an area with interesting human rights impacts and is a major source of foreign investment into Myanmar,” Vicky Bowman, the centre’s director, told Frontier. “There are companies coming in and starting up who we are trying to influence to get them to respect human rights from day one.” “It is also an area where the government is handling a sudden increase in investment, so we want to raise awareness about international standards and give them analysis of where their current laws have gaps relating to human rights,” Ms Bowman.

The report, released on September 24, highlighted concerns about such issues as data privacy, cybercrime, cyber bullying and hate speech as well “offline” labour rights concerns linked to building telecommunications towers and laying fibre optic cables. One of the most high-profile negative effects of increased connectivity has been the rise of online hate speech, especially on social media platforms such as Facebook. Much of the online anti-Muslim rhetoric began after the communal violence in Rakhine State in 2012. In July 2014, rumours posted online that a Buddhist woman had been raped by two Muslim brothers in Mandalay triggered rioting which left two men dead. One of the rumours was re-posed by the controversial monk, the Venerable U Wirathu. A police investigation led to the revelation that a woman had been paid to fabricate the rape claim and resulted in five people being sentenced to prison for 21 years.

Although women and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community have been targets of online hate speech, the centre’s report found that it mainly targeted Muslims. Research by the centre found that 88 percent of the online hate speech it surveyed contained language involved Muslims and 38 percent of the sample urged discrimination, hostility or the killing of Muslims. The posts receiving the most attention were made by politicians or religious leaders. The report called on the government and all political parties to condemn incitements of violence and hate speech, particularly ahead of the November election, when an increase in hate speech is possible. With just over a month before the election, the report also highlighted unlawful online surveillance by the government.

Myanmar’s legal framework offers little protection to prevent the pervasive surveillance common under the previous military government, the report found. “It is a gap here in the legal framework that telecoms companies are concerned about,” said Ms Bowman. “Currently, if they receive a request from the police to provide data on mobile phone use because a crime has been committed, there’s no actual legal framework for it,” she said. She added that the centre proposed a law that reflects some basic principles, such as ensuring that a serious crime has been committed before surveillance is permitted, and to give a “right of remedy” to those being monitored. Ms Bowman said the MCRB is holding talks with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology over the issue. The ministry had responded positively to the centre’s suggestions, but added that the responsibility for amending laws on surveillance lay with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Another concern raised in the report was the need to protect the rights of workers building telecommunications towers and laying fibre optic cables throughout the country. Research by the centre found cases of workers being forced to dig cable trenches because they owed debts to “the group leader”. It said this situation often arose when farmers doing casual work asked for advances on their wages during the rainy season when incomes were low until the next harvest. In August last year, Telenor Myanmar said it had detected 19 confirmed or suspected cases of underage workers involved in potentially hazardous construction projects in its supply chain.

Ms Bowman said that she hoped the Norwegian company’s transparent approach in revealing the discovery would be emulated by its competitors, Ooredoo and MPT, should they become aware of similar situations. “Most of the [tower building] contracts are sublets to another company, who sublets to a smaller company, who sublets to a local level and usually without any contractual obligations with regards to labour,” she said. “So what Telenor have done is actually monitoring their contractors, so they’ve absolutely done the right thing and we would like to see all of the operators do that.”
© Frontier Myanmar


EU to fight rise in online hate speech

9/10/2015- EU justice ministers met Friday in a bid to combat a rise in hate speech and xenophobia spread through social media as Europe grapples with an unprece-dented influx of refugees. Facebook pledged last month to fight a surge in racism on its German-language network as Germany has become the top destination for refugees, triggering a backlash from the far right. "We realised in Germany that hate criminality has increased significantly on social platforms," German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told reporters as he arrived for talks in Luxembourg. Maas was to brief his EU counterparts about talks with Facebook and other sites as well as German initiatives to fight what he said was a European-wide problem. "If someone calls for killing refugees or burning Jews then this is not covered by freedom of speech. This is a criminal act which will be prosecuted," he said.

"Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter have a responsibility to make sure that such things will be deleted. This is not yet sufficiently the case," he said. For example, nobody understands why Facebook can delete child pornographic images in 24 hours but "not an incitement to kill someone," he added. But Vera Jourova, the European commissioner for justice, said it was important to strike a balance between hate speech, which "is simply unacceptable," and freedom of expression, which "is one of our core values." French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told AFP that France already had a good legal arsenal against hate speech. "We must verify at the European level that our laws are harmonised to allow us to prosecute with the same effectiveness and severity everywhere on (EU) territory," Taubira said.


Netherlands: Eight fined for discriminatory comments on the Support the PVV Facebookpage

8/10/2015- Eight people who left discriminatory and inflammatory statements on a Facebook page set up to support the anti-Islam PVV have been fined between €350 and €450. The public prosecution department said if they do not pay, they will have to appear in court. The department began a criminal investigation into statements left on the site in January. The comments were made after the page published an article from the Telegraaf newspaper about the firebombing of mosques in Sweden. A number of Moroccan organisations made formal complaints against the page for threatening behaviour and incitement to discrimination and hatred.

A ninth person was not fined. He lost his job after his employer discovered his involvement in the site and has been punished enough, the public prosecution department said. The page Steun de PVV (support the PVV) has some 26,000 ‘friends’. In a reaction to the fines, the page organiser stated: ‘The eight comments were of course unacceptable but we will not let ourselves be silenced any more.’
© The Dutch News


Cyberhate crimes against Jewish institutions on the rise

8/10/2015- On April 15, an individual or group calling itself “Gaza Hacker Team” hacked into and defaced the Jewish Press newspaper website. On March 24, hackers identifying themselves as “ISIS cyber army” claimed responsibility for breaking into 51 American websites. While the No. 1 reason for computer hacking continues to be criminal financial gain, there’s been an increase in cyberhate hacking in the past year. Much of the cyberhate is aimed at the Jewish community. According to an Anti-Defamation League report, recent anti-Semitic hacker targets included a Jewish high school, synagogues in five states and universities in five states. While previous hacking efforts against Jewish institutions traditionally have focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recent attacks have been carried out in the name of the Islamic State.

“Cyberhate focuses on the air of creating a threat,” explained Jonathan Vick. “It is an attempt to disenfranchise people. Hackers will deface a website or something connected to the Jewish community and put up anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish propaganda to create a type of digital terror.” Vick is the assistant director for Cyberhate Response at the Cyber Safety Center in ADL’s Center on Extremism in New York. Vick was in Houston, Sept. 30-Oct. 2. He spoke to attendees at the ADL Cybersecurity seminar, which was attended by a number of local Jewish organizations and businesses. He also addressed members of the Glass Leadership Institute and Houston business leaders and lawyers.

Once upon a time, hacking largely was the domain of groups of youngish people who broke into computers as a hobby or to create credibility for themselves in the programming community. In the early 1990s, some hacker activists began breaking into computer networks to promote their own political agendas. In the last decade, hackers around the world increasingly have adopted the veneer of a political cause to justify acts of cyberterrorism. “For example, this January, a group of anti-Israel hackers calling themselves ‘Terrorists Team for Electronic Jihad’ claimed responsibility for several attacks against Israeli websites on behalf of ISIS,” said Vick. “So, it’s no longer about simple digital trespass. Cyberterrorism and cyberhate now become noble by taking on all these political themes that make crime sound better. But, the main purpose of cyberhate attacks is to create panic and terror in people’s minds. “Cyberhate crimes are illegal. It’s not just invasion of privacy. It’s in the same category as breaking into a computer for fraud or embezzlement. You’re illegally accessing someone’s computer account.”

Vick argued that most Jewish organizations are not current in their level of protection against cyberhate attacks. “In terms of how Jewish organizations manage their computer operations, most institutions and professionals are not as careful about this as we should be,” said Vick. “The level of protection, diligence, awareness, staying up to date with equipment and software is a job in itself. So, it is difficult for the average person to stay on top. Ironically, it seems easier for the hackers, who seem to have more time on their hands than the rest of us, to stay ahead of the curve.” New cyberhate and cyberterrorist groups pop up regularly. For example, Vick currently is following a group called AnonGhost Team. This group posts copies of all the websites they hacked on a boast board (a website where hackers post their successes). The bragging is a propaganda tool, without a doubt, said Vick. “Since January, AnonGhost claims to have defaced thousands of websites, from Syrian sites to Israeli ones, although they have a definite preference for Jewish-themed organizations. We’ve knocked down their Facebook page several times. We interrupt their ability to brag about what they want to do.”

Yet, this sort of cyberterrorism continues to expand. Vick urged Jewish organizations to take three basic steps to counter the threat of cyberhate attacks:
@ Make sure your website is hosted by a professional company. Confirm that the host company provides security and the 24-hour round-the-clock response you need in case of an attack on erev Shabbat or on a Jewish holiday.
@ Confirm the program used to create your website is up to date. (Older programs have vulnerabilities which open the door to cyberattacks.)
@ Have an action plan prepared and accessible. If someone phones to report a website breach and a secretary picks up the call, all the secretary needs to do is quickly access an emergency response guidebook with telephone numbers and emails and action plan included.

Vick’s bottom line: Cyberhate isn’t a matter of youthful mischief. It’s a type of intimidation. “Sometimes, an institution has membership lists or other valuable information on their website. So, there can be a more insidious side to these attacks,” Vick said. “Avoid becoming a target. Be aware of your email and screen names (overtly identifying yourself with political, ethnic or racial identification). “Most important: Respond when things happen. If your email account gets hijacked, go to IC3 (the Internet Crime Complaint Center site). File a complaint. Call the police if you feel threatened by an email. “Regardless of where you stand on your politics, when it comes to outside world and anti-Semitism, all Jews are in the same boat.”
© The Jewish Herald-Voice


Tool or Weapon? Addressing Cyberhate in the Classroom

7/10/2015- One of the most newsworthy incidents this summer was the tragic murder of nine African American parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina. The suspect in the crime, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, is a white man who was known to be heavily influenced by online white supremacist hate speech, most notably from the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that now functions primarily as an Internet clearinghouse for racial fear-mongering "news" stories. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Konner Sauve, an 18-year-old high school senior, made headlines in June when he revealed that he was behind the yearlong anonymous posting of 650 photos and kind messages to other students at East Valley High in Yakima, Washington. Sauve said, "I wanted to focus on the better aspects of people. To shed a positive light on each individual, make them feel appreciated, and to know that someone cares." The Instagram account, @thebenevolentone3, has 14.3K followers. As a society, are we more surprised by a Dylann Roof or a Konner Sauve?

The Downside of Social Media
Modern technology, the internet, and mobile communication have quite literally rocked our world and changed it forever. Through online communication, we can buy anything we want, meet and connect with people across the globe, exchange ideas in a polite or heated tone, learn things small and large, and express ourselves in countless ways. Unfortunately, this global communications technology also has become a place for people to communicate and spread hate, vitriolic language, and bigotry. We define online hate speech, or cyberhate, as the use of electronic communications technology to spread bigoted or hateful messages or information about people based on their actual (or perceived) race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other similar characteristic. Cyberhate has become a growing concern in our society, especially for young people because of their active engagement in the electronic world.

Cyberhate can take various forms, including the web sites and communication forums in which Dylann Roof participated. It includes the vicious and organized rape and death threats toward women who spoke out against sexism in the gaming industry (commonly referred to #GamerGate). It also includes attacking individuals based on their appearance, racist tweets ranging from sports to the Miss America Pageant, anti-Semitism expressed on Facebook, and hateful comments written in response to news articles. It is difficult to quantify the extent of cyberhate and its change over time; however, there seems to be agreement among experts (PDF) that the problem is increasing in magnitude.

5 Strategies to Fight Cyberhate
What can educators do to help young people address cyberhate? The first step is to educate students about cyberhate by defining it and analyzing how it reflects and perpetuates bias and discrimination prevalent in our society. At the same time, it's important to be mindful not to direct students to hateful websites for "research." Instead, provide screen shots and articles about the cyberhate.

Educators can talk with students about the following strategies for responding to cyberhate, and provide the skills needed to make it happen:
1. Don’t support or reinforce the hate.
One of the most important and easiest tactics is not to support the haters. Help students resist the temptation to respond, applaud, "like," or share. By refusing to join in, they send an important message that bigotry, hatred, and intolerance are not acceptable.

2. Report cyberhate.
Many internet companies and social networking sites acknowledge that counterspeech -- using our voices -- is the most powerful tool in fighting hate online. Most have cyberhate policies with direct links for registering a complaint when free speech has crossed the line into hate speech. Help students learn how to report cyberhate.

3. Support the targets.
Whether the targets are individuals or groups, and whether you know them or not, encourage students to reach out and let these targets know that someone cares about them. Or, as Konner Sauve did, design a project in class where students add to or create their own online support forums or individual posts on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram in support of someone who is a target of cyberhate. The best response to bad speech is good speech, and that's true online as well as in person. Encourage young people to address online hate speech by organizing or participating in counterspeech. They can write an encouraging comment, ask others to do the same, or use social media platforms to support the person.

4. Speak out against hate.
In response to messages of bigotry and hate, students can convey their thoughts by writing a comment in disagreement, making a video, writing a blog, or using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to condemn hate online. In this way, they amplify the message that it is unacceptable. Assign this as a group project or infuse it in other parts of your curriculum.

5. Engage in activism.
In the face of cyberhate, many individuals and groups are fighting back with organized efforts to confront the bias. Last year, Honey Maid created a "This Is Wholesome" commercial which included diverse families (two dads, an interracial family, and a family heavily tattooed). The ad immediately sparked negative and hateful backlash from individuals and organizations. In response, Honey Maid released another video titled "Love" which received positive messages -- ten times as many as the original hateful ones. Encourage students to join groups or campaigns already underway, or engage in counterspeech as a class by taking on an activism project of the students' choosing.
© Edutopia


Fighting Cyberhate (portrait of Jonathan Vick -ADL- )

5/10/2015- What do you do when you see someone spewing hate on the internet, or a You Tube video that is all about hate? Do you turn the other cheek and move to another page, or do you report them and where do you report them? The world these days is filled with terror and hate and with the internet, it seems it is easier to spread those messages than ever before, so what can be done about them? This is where Jonathan Vick, who fights cyberhate on a daily basis, knows exactly what to do with those messages of hate and terror and we were pleased to be able to speak to such a real person who is a real inspiration.

Jonathan Vick
Jonathan Vick is an Assistant Director for Cyberhate Response at the Cyber Safety Center in the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism in New York. Growing up in Long Island, his upbringing was eclectic and he didn’t experience much anti-semitism in his community. Jonathan didn’t think much of his Jewish upbringing until he met his wife, whose father was not only a Holocaust survivor, but also a Nazi hunter for the ADL. Although Jonathan’s entire career had been focused on the Internet since its inception in the mid 90’s, he never had a plan to be a cyberhate fighter with the ADL, until a job that involved civil rights and internet monitoring became available and he applied and got offered the position. That was 12 years ago.

Now, Jonathan Vick, has become an expert in tracking, exposing, and responding to hate on the Internet, as well as closely monitoring hate sites and the activities and beliefs promoted by extremists and terrorists. He has helped prepared an extensive toolkit for addressing cyberhate and he has brought together experts, academics, NGOs, and Internet industry leaders to evaluate current practices and to develop new strategies for responding to cyberhate on their sites.

Fighting Cyberhate
There are several ways that cyberhate is fought on the internet, but the first thing to remember is that cyberhate threats are non-denominational and non-spretrum related. Cyberhate can include: anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim bigotry, racism, homophobia, misogyny, xenophobia and other forms of online hate. It doesn’t matter if the online hate is directed toward a social community, national organization or national security, if it is hate speech, then it is considered cyberhate and should be reported, and the ADL has made it very easy to report, with a complaint mechanism form that is so detailed and easy to use, it even lets you drill down to the specific site you saw the cyberhate on.

After a complaint has come into the ADL on cyberhate, it is investigated for accuracy and then brought to the attention of the site owner. The site owner could be Amazon, Twitter or Tumbler. The ADL doesn’t ask the site owner to remove the material, but they are asked to research the material to see if they feel it is appropriate to what they are trying to portray. Because the ADL does not ask these companies to remove material, but rather to make these decisions on their own, they have developed very strong relationships and channels of communications on what is appropriate and what hate speech is and what needs to be done with these large internet giants. So, when an issue is brought to them, the companies usually respond quickly.

The cyberhate team also has several sites that they monitor daily and they often are bouncing material out to law enforcement and arrests have been made in the past. The difference between what they can do and what police can do is that they can give the police the cause that is needed to make the arrest before a terrorist threat can be carried out. The goal is to interrupt patterns of deceit and narrative. The ADL cyberhate team is also the largest trainer for law enforcement agencies when it comes to hate speech and crimes. They train them on bias crimes, activities of extremist groups, hate crimes and all about online activities.

The bottom line….
Say something. If you see something, say something. You can’t gauge the magnitude of a problem if you don’t know if a problem exists. That’s the starting point. It’s all about empowerment. These companies need to know what’s on their sites, and then they have a right to determine what they have on their sites, but they also have to be actionable for it. So, it all starts with reporting it, even if you aren’t sure, report it.

J-Vibe wants to thank Jonathan Vick for taking time out of his very busy schedule for speaking with us about this very important issue. We are a no place for hate site, and we believe in the power of real people, real inspiration and real Houston. We believe that we can change minds and hearts and we believe that by having this knowledge it is power.
© J-Vibe


Facebook and online abuse

Facebook has agreed to join an international social media task force to help combat online hate in the wake of anti-refugee xenophobia on its pages.

4/10/2015- It took some persuading, but Facebook has agreed to join an international social media task force to help combat online hate in the wake of anti-refugee xenophobia on its pages. It’s a good outcome for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and her Justice Minister, Heiko Maas, who last week called on Facebook to remove racist comments in line with German law. This came after users complained that Facebook was not responding to their reports of racist abuse and threats. It’s also a relative win for the tech giant, which recently boasted about one billion active users in a day and has a market value of US$245 billion. Facebook is keen to avoid any new legislative limits on its operations and to minimise direct censorship. The company said it preferred to allow “robust” debate and discussion, rather than deletion. But Germany has now joined the Israeli, French and Australian governments in asking Facebook to remove dangerous, offensive or illegal content. So the pressure is mounting for it to develop more open and responsive ways of dealing with these problems.

To ban or not to ban
The escalating debate about who Facebook should protect, ban or report to local authorities, and how fast it should intervene, is a reaction to the way social media companies are carving out their own transnational, libertarian policies. To a large extent, this imposes a US free speech paradigm on countries used to more interven-tionist media regimes, even though the legal limits of that paradigm are being thoroughly tested by hate speech. Facebook would much rather we police the pages and posts we make and read, rather than it having to regulate other people’s bad behaviour. Safety, it says, is “a conversation and a shared responsibility”. Users are advised to keep themselves safe by hiding or deleting offensive comments and blocking abusers.

Where content does breach local laws but not its community standards Facebook says “we may make it unavailable only in the relevant country or territory”. But neither strategy stops hate posting, they just reduce its social visibility. Another way the free speech push plays out is with Facebook’s policy on public figures. Its community standards say the company will act on complaints of harassment and direct threats against private individuals, but it allows more critical discussion of public figures. The company’s definition of a public figure is worryingly broad: We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities. This would include academics, journalists and community spokespeople.

The presumption seems to be that people who enter public debate should expect abuse, or that they are better equipped to deal with it than average users. This premise is demolished by the suicide of Australian celebrity Charlotte Dawson who was the focus of much abuse on social media. Facebook’s standard partly explains why it didn’t immediately act on explicit, sexualised threats made recently against journalist Clementine Ford, after she visually sledged Sunrise, posting a selfie that included some explicit language written on her bare chest. Ford claims moderators moved to temporarily close her account because she had breached the community standards. Facebook denies this. As the company is not publicly accountable for the policing of its standards, we do not have a clear account of what actually happened.

Regulating alone or together?
Ford’s experience, and that of UNSW after its site was hacked twice recently, illustrate the problems that Facebook has in managing and accounting for its procedures for tackling online violence. Facebook’s infographic shows how complicated the workflow is for responding to a complaint. There’s frustration among those Facebook business partners who find they can’t get a quick resolution to reports of anti-social or illegal activities. The ABC struggled for several months to get vigilante sites taken down after presenter Jill Meagher’s murder. There’s no doubt that Facebook is investing in research, policy and education measures to combat online violence. Its psycho-social strategies, suicide prevention tools and other safety measures demonstrate this. But promoting self-protection is a small part of a larger equation. Facebook needs more open, collaborative approaches to tackle violence online.

At the recent SWARM 2015 conference of Australian online community managers, conference co-founder Venessa Paech noted that Facebook had yet to formally consult members of its network about the efficacy of its universal standards. She said the community managers were keen to give feedback about the challenges of applying these standards across very different types of communities, many of which are built on Facebook groups or its commenting platform. As one of the world’s largest digital intermediaries, Facebook is at the vanguard of a new industry sector that is confronted by violent online behaviour every day. So while the company is rightly wedded to the free and open credo of internet communication, it has to recognise that collaborative policy development – with governments and professionals – is paramount. It’s the principle of working with all your stakeholders, rather than on behalf of them, and it’s vital to our mutual investment in social media.

Fiona R. Martin, Senior Lecturer in Convergent and Online Media, University of Sydney and Jonathon Hutchinson, Lecturer in Online Media, University of Sydney
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
© My Broad Band


Fighting ISIS Online

The Islamic State is an Internet phenomenon as much as a military one. Counteracting it will require better tactics on the battlefield of social media.
By David Talbot

30/9/2015- The two men pecked out messages on opposite sides of the country. “Yes the Islamic State was a fantasy in 2004, now look at it. The U.S. was a fantasy in 1776, now look at it,” the man in Virginia wrote in a Twitter direct message to an online friend in Oregon. The Virginian, who went by various Twitter handles, including one with “Jihadi” in it, had been obsessively watching slick online videos produced by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS: brutality and jihadist propaganda, much of it translated into English and other languages. Now he was talking about traveling to Syria and forming a militia in Virginia. “Washington beat an empire with 3 percent of the population. I can do it with 1 percent.”

His correspondent in Oregon was Paul Dietrich, a programmer and digital activist joining jihad-related Twitter conversations out of curiosity. Alarmed, he did what relatively few are doing: he tried to intervene with someone who was showing signs of being radicalized by ISIS’s social-media campaign. Dietrich heard the man’s grievances sympathetically, tried to talk common sense, and suggested he get psychological help. Then one night he called the Virginia man “stupid.” “How am I stupid?” he responded. “Let me count the ways. You are a jihadist, in America, who wants to start a militia, and you think you’ll win,” ­Dietrich wrote. “Stop. This. Madness. While. You. Can.” The Virginia man was, at least, talking. “I’ll think about it.”

Extremist groups have long used the Internet, and citizens have long left home to fight for their countries’ enemies. But ISIS stands apart in the way it’s mastered online propaganda and recruitment. Using 21st-century technology to promote a medieval ideology involving mass killings, torture, rape, enslavement, and destruction of antiquities, ISIS has been the prime mover among Islamist groups that have lured 25,000 foreigners to fight in Syria and Iraq, including 4,500 from Europe and North America, according to a U.S. government report released this week. “The ISIS social-media campaign is a fundamental game changer in terms of mobilizing people to an extremist cause,” says Amarnath ­Amarasingam, a researcher at the University of Waterloo who is co-directing a study of Western fighters in Syria. “You are seeing foreign fighters from 80 or 90 countries. In terms of numbers and diversity, it has been quite stunning.” As Google’s policy director, ­Victoria Grand, told a conference in Europe in June: “ISIS is having a viral moment on social media, and the countervailing viewpoints are nowhere near strong enough to oppose them.”

We need better ways of identifying the people most at risk of being persuaded by extremist messages and more reliable ways to communicate with them.
Indeed, the technological response to stanching the recruitment isn’t having much of an effect. Internet companies close accounts and delete gory videos; they share information with law enforcement. Government agencies tweet out countermessages and fund general outreach efforts in Muslim communities. Various NGOs train religious and community leaders in how to rebut ISIS messaging, and they create websites with peaceful interpretations of the Quran. But what’s missing is a widespread effort to establish one-on-one contact online with the people who are absorbing content from ISIS and other extremist groups and becoming radicalized.

Humera Khan, executive director of Muflehun (Arabic for “those who will be successful”), a Washington, D.C., think tank devoted to fighting Islamic extremism, says people like her and Dietrich who try such online interventions face daunting math. “The ones who are doing these engagements number only in the tens. That is not sufficient. Just looking at ISIS-supporting social-media accounts—those numbers are several orders of magnitude larger,” says Khan. “In terms of recruiting, ISIS is one of the loudest voices. Their message is sexy, and there is very little effective response out there. Most of the government response isn’t interactive. It’s a one-way broadcast, not a dialogue.”

Reversing the tide will require, among other things, much more of what Khan and Dietrich have done. What’s needed is better ways to identify the people most at risk of being persuaded by extremist messages and more reliable ways to communicate with them. As an example, a London think tank called the Institute for Strategic Dialogue recently piloted experiments in which it found people at risk of radicalization on Facebook and tried to steer 160 of them away. It was a small test, but it shows what a comprehensive peer-to-peer strategy against extremism could look like.

Distribution mechanisms
ISIS differs from previous radical Islamic movements. For one thing, it forged important alliances to capture territory. After merging al-Qaeda factions with elements of Saddam ­Hussein’s military and intelligence agencies, it seized two major cities, Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq—a region with more than six million inhabitants (at least before the latest mass migrations), substantial resources of oil, water, and wheat, and institutions such as universities. Al-Qaeda, in contrast, never controlled more than a few pockets of territory in such places as Somalia and Yemen. “Never before had a jihadist movement gained the kind of territory and wealth that might allow them to function like states and run public relations campaigns,” says Nico Prucha, a researcher at the University of Vienna and a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.

Second, ISIS differs ideologically from other jihadist groups. A few days after ISIS grabbed Mosul in 2014, a stern-faced, black-robed man ascended stone steps in a mosque and claimed the grandest title of them all: “Caliph,” leader of all Muslims, successor to the Prophet Muhammad, with aims to unite Muslim lands into a caliphate much like the ones that rose and fell in the first millennium. The man was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’s leader. He had cleverly attached his extremist cause to a larger idea that resonates with many Muslims: the restoration of the caliphate.

“Really, you are dealing with a social movement in the true sense—it’s no longer just ‘a group’ that people are joining,” says Mubin Shaikh, a former extremist in Toronto. He has worked undercover for Canadian intelligence services on several investigations, one of which involved infiltrating the “Toronto 18,” a group of young Muslims charged with planning terror attacks in 2006. Today, he also advises U.S. counterterrorism agencies and tries to intervene online to stop young people in Toronto’s Muslim community—the largest in North America—from becoming radicalized.

“People will make analogies to fighters joining the Spanish Civil War,” Shaikh says. “While I understand the analogy, I don’t think it applies. This is really peculiar to the Muslim context. The Muslim world—especially the young Muslim world—has been psychologically primed for a long time to the idea of reëstablishing the caliphate. It’s this idea that Muslims are living under humiliation, and the only time we were not is when there was a caliph. It really is an idea of reclaiming lost glory.”

Third, ISIS emerged after important technological shifts. Think back to when terrorists made their first beheading video, in 2004. According to the CIA, this grainy and gruesome piece of media likely shows Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (the leader of al-­Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, which later morphed into ISIS’s predecessor) slaughtering Nick Berg, a radio entrepreneur from Pennsylvania. It was a laborious task to upload this file onto a jihadist Web forum. There was no YouTube or Twitter to allow instant sharing of videos or links to them. Facebook was still a dorm-room plaything. Few people had smartphones. Al-Qaeda used news organizations such as Al Jazeera to release its videos and statements. Today, however, affordable devices, fast networks, and abundant social-media accounts directly feed a spectacularly large potential audience of young people. A recent study found that the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have a median age of 23.

The notional head of ISIS’s media operations is a 36-year-old Syrian named Abu Amr al-Shami, who had been the ISIS boss in Aleppo, according to the Soufan Group, a consultancy whose leaders include former U.S. and U.K. counterterrorism officials. The propaganda effort includes a slick online magazine called Dabiq. And there’s a division called Al Hayat Media, which targets Western audiences. It’s run by a German rapper formerly known as Deso Dogg who now calls himself Abu Talha al-Almani, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. His oeuvre includes recruitment videos, called Mujatweets, in which you might see fighters handing out ice cream to children. But the larger social-media campaign is aided by sympathizers in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere who produce their own content in multiple languages. This decentralized approach makes it hard to go after the people producing it. “They can do this anonymously from wherever they live,” says J. M. Berger, a nonresident fellow in the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution and coauthor of a paper called The ISIS Twitter Census.”

The propaganda consists of more than graphic videos; it adroitly addresses national, local, and tribal grievances. For example, on February 3, videos surfaced of ISIS soldiers forcing a captured Jordanian fighter pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, into a metal cage—and then burning him to death. Western media reports focused on the deed’s barbarity, but the fire starts 18 minutes into the video. The bulk of it lays out a detailed argument for the act, making connections between President Obama and Jordanian leaders; between American-made armaments and Jordanian air strikes on ISIS; and between those air strikes and the dead and bloodied on the ground in Raqqa. Under the logic of “an eye for an eye,” ISIS had a justification for the fighter pilot’s execution, and the act had a clear political goal as well, ­Prucha explains. It was designed to drive a wedge between King Abdullah of Jordan, who is close to al-Kasasbeh’s uncle, and the many refugees from such airstrikes who are living in the country. For good measure, the text was translated into French, English, and Russian.

The propaganda put out by Dabiq, the ISIS magazine, includes articles geared to certain audience segments. Recruitment pitches for women, for instance, emphasize themes of sisterhood and belonging—and highlight the role of marriage and family in bolstering “Brand Caliphate,” as Sasha Havlicek, founder of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, puts it. As potential recruits are wooed, ISIS supporters engage them in one-on-one chats that are often steered to all-encrypted channels. In trying to understand why ISIS is so adept at all this, one comes back to a simple explanation. The people doing it grew up using the tools. “When you say ‘terrorist use of social media,’ it sounds ominous, but when you look at it as ‘youth use of social media,’ it becomes easier to understand,” says Khan. “Of course they are using social media! They are doing the same thing youth are doing everywhere.”

Scaling up
As he pulls up to meet me at the Toronto City Airport in his cluttered Dodge Caravan, Shaikh, with his gray-flecked pencil sideburns, looks like the 40-year-old, minivan-­driving father of five that he is. Two decades ago, however, he was a disaffected, hard-partying Toronto punk who latched onto Islamic extremism. So he understands ISIS’s target audience today. And like Dietrich and Khan, he sometimes tries to tackle the exhausting task of engaging online. At one point, to attract possible extremist followers, he created a Twitter username, “@CaliphateCop” (he later deleted it, but now the name is used by another Twitter user), and included a quote from the Quran in his profile. He would jump into Twitter conversations and soon engaged with many people professing support for extremist causes.

One was, Shaikh says, an al-Qaeda supporter in Syria. “How can you sleep at night knowing Muslims are in prison due to your snitching?” the Syrian wrote. Shaikh shot back: “How can U claim any sort of Islam and accept the random killing of civilians? Where the heck did U learn your religion?” “Allah Al Musta-an!!” (roughly equivalent to “Oh my God!”) came the reply. “Canada participated in the destruction of the Islamic emirate, they have no innocents for their crime.” Shaikh countered: “Really? Random people walking2work who hav zero attachment2 what govt does—they’re legit targets?” The Syrian had his rationalization ready: “Who was the first person in Islam to use the catapult? It was the prophet. And we both know the catapult doesn’t only hit enemy combatants.” Social-media research has shown that messages from friends and peers are more persuasive than general advertising. Other bodies of research show that youth at risk of falling into many kinds of trouble, from drugs to gangs, often benefit from even small interventions by parents, mentors, or peers.

But so far, major anti-ISIS programs don’t involve that kinds of outreach. For example, over the summer the British government launched a tweet campaign to broadcast government messages against ISIS. Some $188 million from U.S. government agencies funds anti-extremist projects and other ­community-engagement programs around the world, including one aimed at stanching recruitment inside prisons. And there are efforts to develop new social technologies. Affinis Labs, based in Arlington, Virginia, describes itself as a Y Combinator–­like incubator for Muslim-centric apps. One is “QuickFiqh,” in which youths ask 60-second questions about Islamic law and get 60-second answers from mainstream Islamic scholars, made to be easily shared on social media. But these efforts are aimed at Muslims more generally and don’t specifically target people showing signs of becoming radicalized.

Shaikh and others doing peer-to-peer work say they’re frustrated because they can’t know whether the people they talk to online are the ones most at risk or are too far gone and thus a waste of effort. They also want more evidence about what approaches and messages are most effective. So this year the Institute for Strategic Dialogue decided to develop a systematic peer-to-peer anti-extremism strategy. First the group recruited 10 former extremists (five from far-right groups, five from jihadist groups) to serve as “interveners.” Next, they used a Facebook feature called Graph Search to find people whose interests, pages liked, group memberships, and other indicators showed they were likely to be moving toward extremism. The interveners winnowed the list to 160 people and used a little-known “pay per message” feature (you can pay $1 to send a message to a stranger) to start a dialogue. The preliminary results showed that most recipients responded, a crucial first step. Some 60 percent started a “sustained engagement” when the initial overture was nonjudgmental and empathetic.

The study pointed, in a crude way, to what might be possible at a larger scale. “Social media has assisted extremist causes, but there are many ways for us to push back using the same tools,” says Ross Frenett, who led the study. “We just haven’t optimized that. We haven’t pursued that.” Today, ISIS still dominates in the online struggle. Young people continue to leave Western countries for the battle zone. But every now and then, there are small victories. Khan and Dietrich say the young man in Virginia is seeking mental health treatment. Though known to the FBI, he has not been charged with any crime. Having started down the path of radicalization, he may be on his way back because of a few people talking to him online, one on one.
David Talbot is senior writer at MIT Technology Review and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.
© MIT Technology Review


USA: Increased internet access led to a rise in racial hate crimes in the early 2000s

The incidence of racial hate crimes increased by 20 percent when a new broadband provider entered an area, according to new research from Carlson School of Management and NYU Stern

28/9/2015- New research from Carlson School of Management Professor Jason Chan and NYU Stern Professors Anindya Ghose and Robert Seamans finds that broadband availability increased the incidence of racial hate crimes committed by lone-wolf perpetrators in the United States during the period 2001-2008. The addition of a single broadband provider led to as much as a 20 percent rise in racial hate crimes in areas where racial tensions were especially high. Their study, the first of its kind to document the relationship between the Internet and hate crimes, sourced data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to FBI data, almost two-thirds of reported hate crimes arose from racial bias, making it by far the most typical form of bias-motivated crime in the U.S.

Using a large-scale data set from 2001-2008, the authors show:
@ An increase in the number of broadband providers led to an increase in racial hate crimes, particularly among lone-wolf perpetrators.
@ The addition of one broadband provider in every county in the U.S. would have caused 865 additional incidences of racially driven crimes on an annual basis.
@ Yet the Internet's impact on hate crime was not uniform and was predominantly present in areas with higher levels of racism, identified by the amount of racial segregation present and the proportion of racially charged search terms used.
@ Greater Internet access did not cause an increase in the formation of off-line hate groups. However, it may have enhanced the efficiency with which extremists could spread hate ideology and spur like-minded individuals to carry out lone-wolf attacks.

Furthermore, the authors consider the effectiveness of current Internet regulations and reflect on future policy implications. "Technologically driven solutions fall short in addressing an issue that is inherently social in nature," argues Professor Ghose. "Instead of engaging in a technological rat race with extremists, we should consider incorporating critical literacies - including digital media, anti-racism and social justice - into school curricula as an alternative strategy."  "The positive relationship between broadband providers and the number of hate crimes is mainly found in places that have high levels of racism," says Professor Chan. "The likely reason behind this is the Internet facilitates this specialization of interest. That is to say users will search out content online that is congruent to their beliefs or preferences and are not as likely to look up content that is counter to what they believe in."

The article, "The Internet and Racial Hate Crime: Offline Spillovers from Online Access," is forthcoming in MIS Quarterly. Visit YouTube to watch a video on the research and its implications.
© Eurek Alert


Twitter Reportedly Considering Axing Its 140-Character Limit

Anonymous sources say the company is building a product that lets users share more content than can fit into 140 characters

29/9/2015- Twitter is reportedly considering eliminated its trademark 140-character limit. Well, sort of. According to Re/Code, citing anonymous sources, the microblogging company is building a product (or perhaps feature?) that lets users share more content than can fit into 140 characters. Details are fuzzy, but it would let users publish longer-form text. The increasing popularity of “hacks” like OneShot, a mobile app that attaches screen shots of text as an image to a tweet has made it clear that there’s a demand for this. With that said, it is unlikely that whatever Twitter is plotting will be too detached from its flagship product. If anything, Twitter would do better to bake this into its current service and make it easily available to users, much like what it’s done with Cards (special tweet formats for content like video, music, news articles, etc.).

It would also be unlikely that the company is building a OneShot clone as it wouldn’t make the text easily indexable, something that is important for a service whose users produce an incredible number of tweets everyday. Twitter has already experimented in the past with ways to maximize the available characters in each tweet. In April, it added the “Retweet with comment” option to let users have the full 140 characters even when they want to reference another tweet, and began to automatically shorten the URL of web links to 22 characters to make more room. Re/Code notes that the company is reportedly also discussing further tweaks like this, such as removing user handles or links entirely from the character count.

Twitter dropped its 140-character limit on private messages in June, a move that spurred questions about the fate of the limit on tweets. But whatever form this tweet expansion takes, it’s not hard to see why the company is considering it. Its user growth has been flat for several quarters now, and, more importantly, it continues to struggle to explain to potential new users what it is. Removing the limit could be an easy way to convert folks who haven’t grasped why it’s there in the first place, or even just a desperate attempt to get new people to sign up. The company is also still on the hunt for a new CEO, with co-founder and current interim chief Jack Dorsey reportedly the frontrunner. He, Re/Code notes, is apparently in support of the character limit shift.

This article originally appeared on
© Time


While EU governments demur, refugees find a welcome on the Web

27/9/2015- With one million people expected to seek asylum in Europe this year and governments arguing over how to cope, thousands of volunteers are taking to the Internet to offer refugees shelter free of charge. In France, the Netherlands and other European countries, private individuals are proposing free lodging via Web-based platforms inspired by Airbnb, the home rental venture that has flourished with the rise of smartphones. Some fear private endeavors may complicate government efforts to direct the refugee flow, or simply prove too short-lived as the strains of sharing a home take their toll. "It's laudable symbolically but it's not the model favored by the state," said an official at the interior ministry of France, where arrivals are despatched to accommodation centers or state-paid hotel rooms.

But refugees, many of whom relied heavily on mobile phone maps and communications during their journey to Europe from Syria, Iraq or Africa, will find plenty of offers online. On one Irish website, more than 1,000 people "pledged a bed" for refugees within three hours. In Germany, "Refugees Welcome" offers a matching service to put people with lodgings in touch with refugees. One French venture, Singa, has registered 10,000 offers of free lodgings since it started up in June and now has 10 volunteers working full time to match refugees with hosts. "We're overwhelmed. We had no idea there would be such an enthusiastic response," said founder Nathanael Molle. So far, Singa has put 47 refugees in homes around Paris.

Civil servant Clara de Bort, 40, used to rent a spare room to paying tourists. Now she shares her home for free with Aicha, a woman who fled ethnic conflict and forced marriage in Chad and who has been through 14 different state-funded accommodation centers and hotels since she arrived two years ago. Aicha, 25, recently equipped with a book to help her learn French, hopes for a convivial living arrangement and eventual stability. "What I need now is to speak French properly, get a job and find a HLM (long-term social housing)," said the Arabic-speaker. She asked not to have her family name published. Dutch-based Refugee Hero, whose founders describe it as a "mobile-friendly website with similar functionality to Airbnb", says 50 refugees have made contact since it started a few days ago. It has yet to conclude a placement but already "we've got over a hundred listings from all over the world, from Portugal to Brazil, to Austria and the Netherlands," Ayoub Aouragh, one of three young co-founders, told Reuters.

Jurrien ten Brinke in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn aims to fill gaps in public housing and is linking up with non-governmental organizations to train volunteers to help refugees. More than 24,000 people have signed up to help and 6,000 of them are offering to house refugees if and when the authorities acknowledge they are stretched. Peter van der Weerd, an Apeldoorn volunteer, regularly hosts refugees for dinner at his home. "It's my duty to share something with them, not only food ... but to spend time with them," he said.  Yaman, a 24-year-old Syrian, arrived with his brother via Turkey, one of the main exit routes from the war in his homeland. "They told us they really liked us and want us to stay in Apeldoorn. They didn't treat us any differently than the people living here."

European Union governments this week adopted a plan to distribute 120,000 asylum-seekers across the 28-member bloc over two years, which, including a previous quota, takes to the number needing lodgings and assistance to 160,000. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says however that a million people will request asylum this year and up to 450,000 of those will be eligible to stay in the EU. "You can't take a refugee into the home in the same way you take in someone for 48 hours when they are victims of flooding," said Pierre Henry, head of France Terre d'asile, one of the charities that deal with migrants. "It's a long-term welcome."
© Reuters


Merkel Confronts Facebook's Zuckerberg Over Policing Hate Posts

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg on how his company is progressing in efforts to curtail racist posts, after her government complained the social network wasn’t doing enough to crack down on recent xenophobic outbursts

26/9/2015- Attending a luncheon on the sidelines of a United Nations development summit in New York on Saturday, Merkel and Zuckerberg were overheard on a live transmission broadcast on the UN website as participants took their seats. After Merkel briefly queried Zuckerberg about the hate-post affair, the Facebook CEO is heard responding that “we need to do some work” on the issue. “Are you working on this?” Merkel asked in English. “Yeah,” Zuckerberg responded, before the dialog was cut off by introductory remarks to those present. Earlier this month, Facebook said it would step up efforts to target racist content on its German website. The company said Sept. 14 it would join forces with a German Internet watchdog, a non-profit group called Voluntary Self-Monitoring of Multimedia Service Providers, to monitor suspected hate postings.

German authorities have been grappling with the country’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with as many as 1 million seeking refuge from war and poverty expected to enter the country this year. Even as many have rushed to welcome the newcomers, the surge has also spurred a spate of attacks on refugee centers and anti-foreigner sentiment. “We are committed to working closely with the German government on this important issue,” Debbie Frost, a spokeswoman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, said via e-mail. “We think the best solutions to dealing with people who make racist and xenophobic comments can be found when service providers, government and civil society all work together to address this common challenge.”
© Bloomberg


Russia: Apple could be in trouble for its same-sex emojis

Police officials in a region of Russia are investigating Apple on charges that the company is promoting “homosexual propaganda” with its emojis depicting same-sex couples and parents on iOS.

26/9/2015- Local police in Russia’s Kirov region opened their inquiry into the same-sex emojis after a lawyer complained that Apple was violating a 2013 law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors, according to The Independent. If Apple were found guilty, it would face a fine of up to 1 million rubles, or about $15,260. A countrywide ban would be placed on Apple’s goods if the fine were to go unpaid. While this is the first word of police involvement, there has been grumbling about the emojis in question for a number of months now. In April, St. Petersburg representative Vitaly Milonov urged Russia’s consumer rights body to ban iOS 8 if Apple did not create an alternative version without the LGBT emojis or market them with advisory stickers. Milonov argued that Apple already does something similar for China. Last year, Milonov said Apple products should be banned in Russia because the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, is openly gay. Same-sex-couple emojis, which are part of the official Unicode Emoji Subcommittee-approved list, were introduced to Apple users in iOS 6. In iOS 8.3, Apple introduced emojis of families with same-sex parents.
© Digital Trends


Headlines September 2015

Australia: Charity takes aim at anti-Muslim sentiment on social media

A Melbourne-based charity has developed software to combat rising social media hate speech aimed at Muslims.

24/9/2015- Tackling the alarming rise in anti-Muslim abuse has become the focus of a progressive and determined Melbourne-based charity, the Online Hate Prevention Institute. It is urging all hate speech victims to report perpetrators through a recently launched online tool known as the Samih Project. The tool is aimed at making the process easier and more supportive. Examples of the anti-Muslim abuse are on the rise, but often victims are reluctant to come forward. Pakistan-born Greens Senator Dr Mehreen Faruqi decided to take a stand after being targeted by a troll. The exchange started in response to a message she posted on Twitter describing a peaceful winter evening in Queensland. "How beautiful is Brisbane River at night? Enjoying some quality time with my daughter," the tweet said. The response from Twitter user @wesi12 was prompt. "Before your husband blows it up,” the user tweeted.

Dr Faruqi said the message was confronting and deeply offensive. "It does feel pretty abusive to get messages like this which make you feel like you are not part of society - that you are not an Australian," said the mother-of-two, who emigrated to Australia in 1992, studied here and now serves in public office. Islamophobia on most social media platforms is on the rise, according to the founder of the Samih Project, Dr Andre Oboler. Dr Oboler believes it is largely driven by fears over unrest in the Middle East, the proliferation of the self-proclaimed Islamic State group, and the threat of terrorism. "You also end up with individual activists who send private messages to people [reading] 'I'm going to come slit your throat I'm going to slit the throat of your kids'," Dr Oboler said.

The charity offers a simple online process for victims to make reports, and also offers support. In some cases, the offending posts can be removed. Dr Oboler said the elaborate software was originally developed to tackle online anti-Semitism, and has now been modified to tackle a range of vilification, including anti-Muslim abuse. "Sadly it is as a result of the Holocaust that Jewish organisations have been very vigilant and have put in the time and resources and experts to tackle these problems,” he said. “We're bringing it to the broader community." He also believes social media companies like Facebook and Twitter should be held more accountable and subjected to litigation when serious cases cannot be resolved. "When there are assets available, the companies themselves will be under a lot more pressure to respect local law; and then in a country like Australia, where we believe hate-speech is unlawful, it won't happen," he said.

Dr Mehreen Faruqi said she will encourage others to take a similar stand, in an attempt to reduce hate speech. "I think what we need to do and what I did is to expose it," she said. "You can't let this level of toxicity poison our public debate and our multicultural society in Australia."
© SBS News


EU-US data sharing at risk

Future EU-US data sharing risks complications if the EU Court follows the opinion of Yves Bot, its attorney general, issued on Wednesday (23 September).

24/9/2015- He said the Safe Harbour treaty, a 15-year old accord on data transfers between EU firms and US companies, such as Google or Facebook, is “invalid”. He also said the European Commission has no power to prevent individual EU states from blocking data transfers to the US in order to protect their nationals’ privacy rights. The attorney general said Safe Harbour is defunct due to the mass snooping revelations of Edward Snowden, a US intelligence contractor. He said “the access enjoyed by the United States intelligence services to the transferred data constitutes an interference with the right to respect for private life” under parts of the EU treaty. He said EU nationals need judicial remedy in US courts if they believe their rights have been abused. He also said US security services hoover up EU nationals’ data “in a generalised manner, [concerning] all persons and all means of electronic communication, and all the data transferred (including the content of the commu-nications), [is used] without any differentiation, limitation, or exception”.

The EU Court case revolves around Max Schrems.
The 27-year old Austrian law student and privacy campaigner brought a case against Facebook in the Irish courts, which have jurisdiction on its EU activities. The Irish court then asked EU law chiefs to step in. The Yves Bot opinion is not binding, but the EU Court normally follows its attorney general’s advice, and the Irish courts are also likely to follow suit. “Yay! ... Safe Harbour is invalid”, Schrems Tweeted on Wednesday. He added that Ireland must now probe if Facebook gave his data to US intelligence. Facebook said in a statement: “We have repeatedly said that we do not provide ‘backdoor’ access to Facebook servers and data to intelligence agencies or governments”. For its part, the European Commission is due to file a proposal on an updated version of Safe Harbour in the coming weeks.

But Safe Harbour is just part of broader EU-US data regime talks. EU institutions are finalising a Data Protection Umbrella Agreement, part of which is to give EU nationals judicial redress in the US. They are in talks on an EU-US free trade pact, which has a digital market dimension. They are also finalising a treaty on sharing air passenger data for security reasons - the so called PNR agreement. Security aside, Bot’s opinion has caused alarm in the private sector. The Brussels-based digitial sector lobby, DigitalEurope, said in a statement that some 4,500 European companies need Safe Harbour “to transfer a wide range of commercial data such as payroll and customer data”. Wim Nauwelaerts, a partner at the Brussels-based law firm Hunton & Williams, told the Reuters news agency that Bot’s opinion casts a shadow on the other EU-US pacts. "If you question overall the validity of US law then what about these other legal mechanisms?,” he said.
© The EUobserver


Extremists in Bangladesh publish hit list of bloggers

Islamic extremists in Bangladesh appear to be taking their war on secular writers and bloggers beyond the South Asian country's borders.

24/9/2015- A hit list purporting to be from the militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team has been sent out threatening people in Europe and North America. "Let Bangladesh revoke the citizenship of these enemies of Islam," a statement accompanying the list says. "If not, we will hunt them down in whatever part of God's world we find them and kill them right there." The list contains nine people in the United Kingdom, eight in Germany, two in the United States, one in Canada and one in Sweden. CNN isn't reporting any of the names on the list.

'An unacceptable attack on freedom of expression'
The demand to revoke their Bangladeshi citizenship doesn't make sense in all the cases, as some of those mentioned don't have it. But the menacing language is deeply troubling in a year in which at least four bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh after posting articles critical of Islam online. "This international threat to writers and bloggers is an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression," said Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19, a group that defends bloggers' rights worldwide. "Such threats often have a chilling effect on expression, encouraging individuals and organizations to self-censor for fear of violent reprisal."

People on previous list attacked
Islamist militants in Bangladesh have posted a hit list of writers they view as opponents of Islam before -- and acted on it. Late last year, Reporters Without Borders said that a group calling itself Ansar al Islam Bangladesh published a list of writers it saw as opposing Islam. Months later, blogger Asif Mohiuddin, whose name was on the list, said that at least nine of those on it had been killed and many others attacked. Last month, police in Bangladesh arrested three suspected members of Ansarullah Bangla Team, one of them a British citizen, in connection with the killings of Avijit Roy and Anant Bijoy Das, two of the prominent bloggers attacked this year.

'One of the most active terror groups'
Dr. Ajit Kumar Singh, a research fellow at the South Asia Terror Portal in New Delhi, said last month that Ansarullah Bangla Team, more commonly known as Ansar Bangla, is a terrorist group that emerged recently. It is believed to be linked to al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, or AQIS, a branch of the international terrorist network that formed in recent years, he said. Ansar Bangla is "one of the most active terror groups in Bangladesh now," and has been officially banned by the govern-ment there, he added. "There is a battle going on in Bangladesh between fundamentalists and secularists," Singh said. "A blogger like Niloy Neel, the last one who was killed, was openly questioning fundamentalist thought. Organizations like Ansar Bangla wanted to shut him up -- and scare others into not talking." Imran Sarker, president of the Blogger and Online Activists' Network in Bangladesh, said the struggle between hardliners and free thinkers began in early 2013, "when the liberal bloggers got united and started a movement against radicalization of the society by the militant groups.

Four shocking killings
The brutal killings of the four bloggers this year have shocked many people in Bangladesh and beyond. In February, Roy, a Bangladesh-born American blogger, was killed with machetes and knives as he walked back from a book fair in Dhaka.A month later, Washiqur Rahman, 27, was savaged by two men with knives and meat cleavers just outside his house as he headed to work at a travel agency in the capital. Das, 32, was set upon with cleavers and machetes in May as he left his home on his way to work at a bank in northeastern Bangladesh. And less than two weeks ago, Neel was hacked to death in his Dhaka apartment. Activists have criticized the initial response from Bangladeshi authorities to the killings.
Opinion: Rule of law or not, bloggers are vulnerable


Czech Rep: Free wi-fi charity project helps homeless people in Prague

21/9/2015- People in Prague can connect to the Internet or recharge their phone or tablet battery in the street within the "live wi-fi network" project that employs a homeless man who should gradually be followed by others, weekly Tyden out Monday writes. The project is tested by the 56-year-old Radim who has been earning his living selling flowers at a metro (underground) station exit during the past five years. "A few people have made use of it, but it has not yet been widespread," Radim, wearing a T-shirt with an inscription reading "FREE WI-FI CHARITY," told Tyden. Radim may soon be followed by other people in a difficult life situation. "They will be equipped with a pocket router with a range of 20 metres," Lubos Bolecek, chairman of the WiFi 4 Life NGO chairman, said. "We want to pay for them [the people providing the free service] accommodation in a dormitory, clothing and food or give them some pocket money," Bolecek said.

The participating homeless people will have to be standing in a beforehand determined part of Prague, on Wenceslas Square or Old Town Square, for instance, for eight hours a day. The organising NGO hopes that its project will return order and regular working habits to its employees' lives, Tyden writes. It writes that sociologist Libor Prudky who has been participating in work on a concept of dealing with homelessness on Prague as well as national levels, said "every initiative that aims to help homeless people is good," but he added that he is sceptical about this particular project. He told Tyden that in working with the homeless, it is necessary to go more deeply and to help them seek ways out of their situation.   "It is work as any other," Radim, who has been homeless for 35 years, said.

He said for those who are in the street, every work or crown is good. "Who will employ me at my age and with arthrosis?" he asked. "Everything needs its time and homeless people would be interested in the project," Radim said. Bolecek said his organisation will not stop at the wi-fi project. "We will try to find them (the homeless) other jobs, depending on their education or previous work experience. We definitively do not want them to get stuck in our project for many years," he said. The NGO has for the time being been financing its project from its own pockets. It collects money within a crowdfunding project for its further activities, Tyden writes. The NGO is not the sole organisation trying to help homeless people. One of the well known is the charity organisation Nadeje (Hope). "In Prague alone, four to six thousands of people live in the street," sociologist Prudky said, adding that further tens of thousands of people are threatened with becoming homeless over accommodation debts or low incomes.

Prague has more than one million inhabitants.
© The Prague Daily Monitor


Germany/UK: T-shirt reading "WE KILL THE GYPSIES" for sale online by Zazzle

22/9/2015- At 15:12 CET today the Czech edition of news server reported that the German-language pages of the Zazzle online retailer were offering a T-shirt reading "GYPSY HUNTER BADGE - WE KILL THE GYPSIES". Zazzle is one of the biggest, must progressive firms in its field, offering customers the opportunity to create their own logos for placement on T-shirts or other items and then to sell their creations through the firm's online store. There are probably problems with controlling what turns up on the firm's website in terms of customer designs. News server sent questions to the media department of Zazzle about the T-shirt and their control process which have yet to be answered. Zazzle was established in 1999 and has won many awards. It has been invested in by John Doerr, a Google investor and member of a panel of independent experts who advises US President Barack Obama and by Ram Shriram, another Google investor and manager. At approximately 17:30 CET the T-shirt disappeared from the website. We do not know to what degree the questions sent to Zazzle by news server affected this because we have yet to receive a response from the retailer.
© Romea.


USA: Police looking for culprit of racist online school post

21/9/2015- Concerned about the well-being of students at Severn River Middle School, William Rowel wants to know why school officials didn't notify parents about a racist comment posted on the school's resource website. "I should know if there's a threat, a bomb threat or violence threatened, and that's an aspect of the post," said Rowel, a member of the Caucus of African American Leaders. County schools spokesman Bob Mosier said the school took the steps they believed were appropriate and responded to those who asked about the incident. The school system turned over information to appropriate agencies, including the police. He declined to comment on what other agencies received the information. "We dealt swiftly with this issue when it first arose in a matter of hours," Mosier said. "The fact that there was no schoolwide notification should no way be interpreted by anyone to mean that we do not take this issue seriously."

The school system is working with the Anne Arundel County Police Department to identify those responsible for those comments. County police are asking a judge to compel Internet companies to release information to identify the person or persons who posted the comments, according to spokesman Lt. Ryan Frashure. Last month, the school system shut down the Severn River Blackboard page after a parent alerted school officials to racist comments. School officials removed the content and blocked access to the page. Mosier said those responsible used a general user name and password to log in to the Blackboard website. While school staff members have individual log-in credentials, students and parents use the generic user name and password. It's unknown if students were involved.

Carl Snowden, an organizer at the Caucus of African American Leaders, posted a picture about a month ago of the now-blocked page on his Facebook page. The image featured a moon-like character and text that included the phrases "KKK fine," "white supremacy" and a racial epithet. The comments are lyrics to a song that's posted on YouTube labeled "Moonman — Notorious KKK (Rap Remix)." Frashure said the school system turned over information to the police because the department has experience using data from computers to obtain evidence. The Internet companies keep a "electronic footprint" of people who visited the Blackboard page, said Frashure. But he doesn't know when police will receive that information, he said. Frashure said he doesn't believe the comments pose a physical threat to the students.

Rowel's daughter, who goes to the Severn River Middle School, said students occassionally use racial slurs as a joke. Snowden, who also is a columnist for Capital Gazette, said the organization the organization met with State's Attorney Wes Adams and asked him to investigate the incident to determine if a hate crime was committed. Adams could not be reached for comment Monday.
© The Capital Gazette


USA: Neo-Nazi, radical feminist and violent jihadist - all at once

To some he was an Islamist extremist, to others a radical feminist, to others a neo-Nazi. These are all online identities that seem to have belonged to Joshua Goldberg - but in reality he was none of these things.

21/9/2015- They were simply online aliases used to whip up ideological hatred, with seemingly dangerous and even violent real-world consequences. In reality he lives in Florida, spent huge amounts of time online - and has now been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). But if the allegations now being made against him are true, posing under these fake identities, he seems to have incited others to act abusively and in some cases, to take up arms. Among the alleged victims was Ben Garrison, an artist living in Montana. Around the time of the 2008 financial crisis he started drawing libertarian-themed political cartoons, lamenting what he saw as the rise of "big government." But he soon found that his work was attracting people he vehemently disagreed with - who seemed to be extremists and white supremacists.

"There was a page on Facebook using my photographs, and all my cartoons, but they were all vandalised with hate and anti-Semitism," he told BBC Trending radio. Fake accounts set up in Garrison's name posted racist messages, and his family was targeted as well. "When I went on there and saw what they were doing I was just abhorred." The lies about Garrison online spread out of control - a Google search of his name brings up pages of lies and misinformation, and his work as a commercial artist has dried up. The abuse led him to hire investigators from the Online Hate Prevention Institute who looked into the white supremacists spreading the hate against him online. And this is what they found: one of the key puppet masters who was rallying the extremists to bully Ben Garrison seemed to be a 20-year-old man living in his parents' house in Florida. His name was Joshua Goldberg.

Garland attacks
It seems Goldberg wasn't just posing as a racist neo-Nazi. Earlier this year an Australian journalist, Elise Potaka, discovered that someone was impersonating her, and one of her sources, online. Potaka enlisted the help of another journalist, Luke McMahon, and together they started chatting with Goldberg's online personalities. "It was immediately apparent to me that I was dealing with like a classic Internet troll, but one that was obviously quite sophisticated," McMahon says. "When I first started engaging with him… I thought I was dealing with a member of the far right. But as the conversation progressed and I worked out this wasn't about any kind of ideological crusade, but it was something much different."

One of Goldberg's alleged identities was called "Australi Witness" - a persona that claimed to be a supporter of the the so-called Islamic State, living in Australia. Improbably, "Australi Witness" also claimed to have worked for human rights organisations and to have links with liberal Muslim human rights activists. Australi Witness took online abuse even further than other aliases attributed to Goldberg, stoking up Islamic extremists and encouraging real-world violence. After two men were shot dead attacking a controversial "draw Muhammed" contest in Garland, Texas in May, it emerged that they had retweeted messages from the Australi Witness Twitter account. Goldberg hasn't been arrested or charged in connection with the attempted Garland attack, but the Australi Witness persona started to claim credit for it. And his statements started to get the attention of the FBI. Reality was about to descend.

'Socially isolated'
The footprint of these fake aliases is spread all over the internet. In late August, we here at the BBC Trending blog got an email from Australi Witness. "You might know me for inspiring the attack in Garland, Texas earlier this year," it read. "I would like you to know that, on September 11, a pressure cooker bomb is going to be detonated in a large Midwestern US city." The message contained ridiculous claims and unbelievable boasts - but was forwarded to the police regardless. It turned out that according to an affidavit filed by the FBI, Goldberg, posing as Australi Witness, had been making similar claims to an FBI informant posing as an Islamist militant - and going much further by providing the informant with detailed information about how to build a bomb. When he was arrested, the affidavit says, Goldberg admitted being behind the fake identity, but claimed he was hoping the Islamist militant he thought he was talking to would blow himself up in the process of building the bomb. Failing that, Goldberg told authorities, he would call police at the last minute, stop the attack, and be hailed as a hero.
© BBC Blog - Trending


UK: 'Refugees Welcome' supporters fight anti-migrant memes with satire

People have been making humorous memes starring some famous faces to make fun of the fake anti-refugee memes circulating online

18/9/2015- As fake and distorted images of refugees continue to circulate online, people have been making their own memes to demonstrate the “stupidity” of people believing everything they see. Viral images have wrongly claimed to show former Isis fighters arriving in Europe using the current crisis as cover, and asylum seekers attacking police with the flag of the so-called Islamic State. Right-wing groups across the continent have been making and spreading memes falsely purporting to picture migrants on steroids or “invading Europe”, using photos taken as far away as Australia and as long ago as 1991. But now social media users with a sense of humour are making their own versions, starring Sylvester Stallone, The Rock and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among other famous faces.

Meanwhile, Arnie is seen with a four-barrelled rocket launcher in the 1985 film Commando, with the caption: “Six months ago posing for Isis.” Members of the Refugees Welcome UK Facebook group were appreciating the humour, with one person writing that the satirical memes “summed up the stupidity of people who really do believe a photo on the internet must be true”. But even the comedy pictures seemed to fool some people. A picture claiming Ice Cube was an Isis fighter appeared to fool some members of far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First after being shared using the logos of the two groups. It shows the rapper fishing in 2005 comedy Are We There Yet, with a photo of him holding a gun during his N.W.A days below. A caption, presumably written in jest, reads: “This Muslim convert Isis soldier is pictured here on a boat crossing from Syria into Greece on 23/08/2015.

“The second picture is the same Muslim convert Isis soldier pictures in a block of high rise flats in Balsall Heath, Birmingham on 13/0915. They’re here. Don’t say we didn't warn you! “Please Share To Help Stop This Happening!” Some people appeared to take the post seriously, with one man sharing it on Facebook writing : “This is a ‘refugee’ who is living in the UK now!!! #refugeesnotwelcome.”

As the debate continues, thousands of refugees seeking safety in the EU are attempting to divert through Croatia after Hungary closed its border with Serbia in an effort to keep asylum seekers out. The EU has called an emergency summit for next week in a fresh bid to urgently formulate a new strategy to tackle the crisis. This newspaper has started a campaign for the UK to welcome a fair share of refugees. Click here to sign The Independent's petition
© The Independent


Twitter racism epidemic fuelled by 6.7 MILLION slurs per day, study reveals

Mirror Online has been given exclusive access to research which poses serious questions about how technology is affecting the fabric of our multicultural society.

18/9/2015- Social media is in the grip of a worsening racism epidemic that threatens to impact on the future of race relations in real society, a jaw-dropping new study reveals. Mirror Online has been given exclusive access to research which demonstrates the horrifying extent of online racism and poses serious questions about how technology is affecting the fabric of our multicultural society. Among the findings revealed are the facts that:
@ There are more than 3 MILLION slurs per week on Twitter alone
@ There's been a 4,800% increase in racist tweets per day in the last two years
@ Racist terms are becoming endemic among the cultures they were once meant to offend
@ Experts fear social media could have a serious impact on race relations in the future

The study is conducted by the think tank Demos, which spent two weeks in September analysing every single racist tweet sent in the world, recording a massive 6,777,955 "slurs" during the course of the study. Researchers first performed a ground-breaking assessment of Twitter racism two years ago, when the top term of abuse was "whitey". But now Mirror Online can reveal the most popular race-related term is "nigga", which is commonly used by racists and non-bigots alike.

There has also been an increase in the sheer amount of abuse, which appears to be gaining a sort of respectability, with members of certain racial groups often using previously taboo terms to describe themselves. During the study two years ago, Demos recorded about 10,000 racist tweets a day, but that has now increased to 484,139 each day - an increase which appears to be largely driven by the surging popularity of the word "nigga". "Words which were previously being used to injure people have in many instances simply become part of the language for users on Twitter," said Josh Smith, an associate at the Demos Centre for the Analysis of Social Media. He said words which were once totally unacceptable are now being commonly used online, often in unexpected ways. "While in some cases these slurs are undoubtedly being used to injure or offend, their increased use over the last few years is likely to tell us more about the changing use and meaning of language," he continued.

Twitter allowed people to experiment with "taboo terms" away from the gaze of old-fashioned society, which can allow racists to spread their bile, but also allow groups to describe themselves using words which were once used to insult them. A Twitter search for the word "Paki", for instance, reveals young people using it to describe their own racial background, as well as a flurry of tweets from traditional bigots. One young girl, for instance, described herself as "your favourite Paki". The word "nigga" is often used quite differently from "nigger", with black people often using using the former in a friendly way and racists using the more traditional spelling to reflect some very backwards attitudes. We showed the figures to Fiyaz Mughal, head of Faith Matters and Tell Mama UK, which records cases of Islamophobia both online and in the real world. "Online racism is evident in the social media sphere and is quite open," he said.

"Sometimes, this is mixed in with anti-Asian, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment so people will be racially and religious bigoted in the same statement. "It seems that sitting behind a computer and being able to project a voice into cyberspace, makes people voice some of their deepest and darkest concerns and this is troubling given vulnerable young people out there who can believe such rhetoric." He said online racism could often fuel problems in society, suggesting the surge in hate speech which followed the murder of Lee Rigby prompted a "huge rise in anti-Muslim hate incidents and attacks" including assaults on mosques. "Some members of black and minority ethnic communities that we talk to say that it feels that decades of anti-racist work has fallen back and that terms being used were around in the 70’s and 80’s," he added. "This is extremely concerning and will have impacts for race and community relations in the future.

However, Demos had a more positive conclusion and suggested their research could indicate a sea change in the way society deals with racism. "By encouraging people to communicate in writing more frequently than ever before, with little or no censorship, it’s possible that social media helps speed up the evolution and redefinition of language," Josh Smith added." "We already know that the internet can change the way we speak to each other, because no-one ever said ‘lol’ in the Eighties. "Perhaps it can change the way we think, and speak, about race."
© The Mirror


Facebook will work with Germany to crack down on racist posts. What now?

Questions about the social media site's policies on hate speech remain as it announces it will work with German officials to curb posts directed at migrants

15/9/2015- As a debate rages in Europe over a growing tide of xenophobic social media posts directed at migrants – one key question emerges: Are users participating in an impassioned political debate about the refugee crisis, or simply expressing racist views? That distinction came into focus on Monday, when Facebook announced that it would work with the German Justice Ministry to crack down on racist and xenophobic posts on the social media site. In a joint news conference, executives from the site said they would form a joint task force to examine posts flagged by the site’s users as racist and xenophobic. The task force would determine whether such posts were protected as free speech or were violating local laws, which prohibit hate speech directed against a person or a group because of their ethnic or religious background. The offense is punishable by up to three years in prison. “The idea is to better identify content that is against the law and remove it faster from the Web,” German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But the US-based Facebook said it didn’t plan on revising its existing policies on what types of posts are allowed on the site. Currently, the site’s community standards prohibit posts that attack a person’s religious affiliation; racial, ethnic, or national identity; sexual orientation; or disability. A key concern, the site says, is to ensure that its policies do not stifle political debates. Currently, Facebook allows the exchange of “satire, humor and social commentary” related to what users may consider hate speech, noting that one key goal of the site is to allow its users to “challenge ideas, institutions, and practices.” Because free speech laws differ drastically in Europe from those in the US – and even more so in countries such as China or Egypt – defining what constitutes a “political debate” on social media sites that are used all over the world is often difficult, observers say.

“This is a complex issue,” says Jillian York, director of international freedom of expression at the Electronic Freedom Foundation, in an e-mail to the Monitor. "Personally, I don't think that companies should be in the business of regulating speech." Ms. York says Facebook’s current standards are somewhat ill-defined. Using algorithms or similar automated technology to screen posts online has the potential to filter out legitimate speech, she notes. “In this case, I think Facebook's statements – though not necessarily their position – are wrong,” she adds. “Whether or not you think hate speech should be banned, there's no ‘legitimate debate’ that includes mocking and saying hateful things about refugees, full stop.” But exactly what types of posts should be removed, and how much responsibility falls to Facebook and other sites to remove speech that is flagged by users as racist or xenophobic is still an open question, as the Monitor previously reported in July.

During the meeting on Monday, Facebook executives argued they should not be responsible for removing posts that are not prohibited by either German law or Facebook’s own policies. The site currently has a team of German speakers that removes posts that are found to be in violation, the Wall Street Journal reported. The site must also balance free speech concerns with the urgency of Germany’s refugee crisis. The country is expected to receive 800,000 applications for asylum this year, with attacks on refugee centers and demonstrations also increasing dramatically. Officials said there were about 200 acts of violence directed against the migrants in the first six months of this year, more than all of last year, the Los Angeles Times reported in August.

“It’s not like Facebook can go and say there’s a definitive right answer, but can they innovate on their platform to focus on a particular country’s needs,” says Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a technology-focused think tank based in Washington. “I think it becomes less about regulating speech, and more about ensuring that the platforms are being used for good,” Mr. Castro says, noting that Facebook could introduce more specialized tools to hide comments that may be offensive or limit them to specific users instead of open to all. “The more control you give users, the more ambiguity and flexibility you allow, and I think that’s a good thing."

During Monday’s meeting in Berlin, executives from the site also announced that Facebook would provide financial support to groups that collect examples of online hate speech and begin a campaign to encourage anti-hate speech online, the Journal reported. But York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who is based in Berlin, wondered about the ultimate impact of a collaboration between government and the private sector to curb racist posts online. “I think we need to be having a conversation about why we think corporations are best tasked with regulating speech,” she says by e-mail. “In Germany, it's particularly interesting – Facebook bans nudity (which you can see on any public street here) but fails to take down ‘hate speech’ that the government wants it to. What does that mean for a society?”
© The Christian Science Monitor


A German tabloid posts nude paintings to protest Facebook’s hate speech policy

The Berlin-based tabloid newspaper B.Z. has in recent weeks emerged as Germany's main media critic of a much bigger adversary: Facebook. B.Z. has repeatedly mobilized readers to go after the social media giant for not doing more to delete hate speech against refugees. Germany has experienced a wave of such comments in recent weeks.

15/9/2015- On Monday, the paper decided to raise awareness with a provocative initiative. On its Web site and Facebook page, the paper posted pictures of artworks depicting nude women, such as Amedeo Modigliani's 1917 painting "Reclining Nude" and Sandro Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." The paper prominently displayed the paintings on Facebook for 24 hours to showcase the alleged ambivalence of the deletion policies. "The enterprise rigorously takes action against all content which has a sexual context. Facebook's explanation: Users could feel offended because of their religion. In other words: One cannot expect Muslims to look at a nude painting, but [it seems acceptable that Muslims] are exposed to hatred, smear campaigns and collective death threats. This is absurd!" the paper explained. "It's about hate messages, a smear campaign against foreigners and right-wing propaganda," B.Z. wrote in the commentary. "So far, Facebook has, apart from some individual cases, not reacted to the increasing public opinion (in Germany) which considers the company to be responsible for the content that's published on its site. We think that the same standards that are valid for media outlets should also apply to Facebook."

The campaign is reminiscent of another tabloid newspaper's decision to run an edition without any pictures a week ago. In a statement, Bild called the edition "a tribute to the power of images," and said it was a reaction to those who were upset that the paper published photos of the body of a Syrian child who drowned off the coast of Turkey. On Monday, the German justice minister, Heiko Maas, met with representatives of Facebook to discuss the company's approach toward hate speech. Following the meeting, Facebook said that it would collaborate with German organizations "to develop appropriate solutions to counter xenophobia and racism and to represent this online". The social media accounts and comments sections of German media outlets have been flooded with anti-refugee and xenophobic messages in recent months. At first, social media managers tried to react to the comments mainly by ridiculing them in public.

But some Germans have decided to sue users for the xenophobic comments. As a consequence, several commentators have been laid off or fired after their online activities were exposed. Many of the xenophobic posts are archived by a blog that publishes screenshots of the comments and provides information about their employers, if available. The blog's creators, who remain anonymous over fears of retribution, founded the site because they said they didn't think Facebook was doing enough to stop hate speech. "Something dramatic needs to happen for Facebook to react," the two founders told the German newspaper Die Welt.
© The Washington Post


Facebook Is Finally Making a ‘Dislike’ Button

After years of saying it wouldn't happen

15/9/2015- Brace yourselves: the Facebook “Dislike” button is coming. Despite previously saying the social network wasn’t planning to build a “dislike” button, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed during a Tuesday Q&A session that his company has indeed been working on one. “I think people have asked about the dislike button for many years,” Zuckerberg said. “Today is a special day because today is the day I can say we’re working on it and shipping it.” The exact form a “Dislike” button may take is still up in the air. “What [users] really want is the ability to express empathy,” Zuckerberg added. “Not every moment is a good moment.” Facebook has long shied away from building a “Dislike” button over concerns it would invite rampant negativity. “That isn’t what we’re here to build in the world,” Zuckerberg said.
© Time


Czech schoolchildren vulnerable to cybercrime

14/9/2015- One in ten children active on social networks are asked to post a nude photo of themselves on their Facebook profile, according to the results of an anonymous survey conducted among 1250 school-goers aged between 8 and 17. Thirty percent of those surveyed said they had be asked to go on a meeting with someone they did not know. The survey also showed that younger children very often readily give people they do not know friend-status. A third of respondents said they spend more than three hours a day online.
© Radio Prague


UK: Syrian refugees targeted for violence by far right

Hard line activists post vile images of dead Syrian child and call for refugees to be massacred

12/9/2015- Sick far-right extremists are plotting violence against Syrian refugees heading for sanctuary in Britain. Days after the Government said 20,000 migrants could come here, a trail of hate has been traced from Hungary to the groups across the UK. A source said: “These people eat, sleep and breathe racism. “To them, mass immigration on the scale David Cameron has signed up to is like a red rag to a bull. They are highly dangerous.” One group, Misanthropic Division, posted a digitally altered version of the shocking photo of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach. Trawling vile websites, our investigators found a Europe-wide movement called Blood and Honour, an umbrella ­organisation for British racist groups such as the National Front and National Action. A source said: “They talk online and at meetings about killing non-whites. “The groups exists solely to promote hatred and violence towards them.”

Our investigators also tracked down a UK rock band with links to Blood and Honour. Redneck 28 have played at many of the group’s rallies and can be seen in photographs giving Nazi salutes. At one rally they were photographed with two people in Ku Klux Klan robes. Blood and Honour caused outrage last month when it staged an Adolf Hitler bus tour from Budapest in Hungary to his birthplace in Austria. One Hungarian-based activist, Tompos Von Wewelsburg, called for Syrians to be massacred. Alongside a mocked-up picture of a dinghy being fired on by a warship, he wrote: “Invaders are not welcome.” German expert Dr Fabian Virchow told a parliamentary inquiry Blood and Honour was linked to the notorious National Socialist Underground group. NSU’s last member is facing trial for killing 10 migrants.

Blood and Honour activists in the Czech Republic have been charged with attempted murder following arson attacks on ethnic minorities. There are now fears the group’s UK arm will focus its hatred on Syrians coming here. A UK intelligence source said: “To their friends these people may seem normal but they have a sinister side. Some seek out opportunities to victimise anyone they consider foreign.” Confirming their involvement in the far right, one Redneck 28 member said: “I’d be a fool to deny it, but I need my name left out of it. I need to keep myself protected.” Two other members refused to comment.
© The Daily Mirror


Germany moves to clamp down on Facebook racism

German officials say Facebook's commenting policy doesn't do enough to block racist comments online as concern grows about violence against migrants.

11/9/2015- As Europe’s refugee crisis continues to intensify, German officials are hoping to stem a growing tide of racism and hate speech directed against the migrants online. On Friday, German chancellor Angela Merkel said that social media sites such as Facebook bear some of the responsibility for the spread of racist and xenophobic posts. “When people stir up sedition on social networks using their real name, it's not only the state that has to act, but also Facebook as a company should do something against these slogans,” Ms. Merkel said in an interview with the newspaper Rheinische Post (Translation via Reuters.)

Now, the German government is trying to engage social media sites directly. Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, sent a letter last month to Facebook’s European office in Dublin arguing that the site was not doing enough to prevent racist comments posted online. He also requested a meeting with Facebook officials, set to take place in Berlin on Monday, according to Mr. Maas’ Twitter page. Many users were receiving notifications that comments they reported as abusive did not violate Facebook’s community standards, Maas wrote, according to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment from the Monitor about how it moderates posts.

Noting that Facebook’s community standards were often strictly enforced for images of nudity, Maas called the company's response a “farce,” saying the site had a legal obligation to delete posts that incite hatred, a criminal offense in Germany. His requests to delete offensive posts did not violate freedom of speech, Maas wrote, because “the Internet is not a lawless space where racist abuse and illegal posts can be allowed to flourish." Racism and hate speech often flourish online because of the physical distance – and relative anonymity – provided by many websites and social platforms, researchers say. “There’s something about typing something to someone, rather than saying it to their face, that creates a certain kind of hate speech,” says Jessie Daniels, a professor at the City University of New York's School of Public Health who has studied racism and white supremacist movements online.

Differing views of what constitutes free speech internationally may also play a role in Germany’s efforts to limit hate speech online. In Germany, professor Daniels says, debates about free speech intermingle with concern about the fate of migrants coming to the nation’s borders, often fleeing violent conflicts in their home countries. By contrast, in the US, she notes, violent or threatening speech is often seen as protected by the First Amendment. But what is most concerning in both regions, she says, is that racist and xenophobic posts can quickly turn into action. Mr. Roof reportedly scoured white supremacist websites before committing the murders.

In the interview with Rheinische Post, Merkel voiced similar concerns, saying Facebook has some policies in place to prevent hate speech, but is not doing enough to enforce them. But her own stances on immigration have also been criticized. Some Germans view her as insufficiently concerned about the large numbers of migrants – particularly from Syria – currently seeking shelter in Germany. Over the past several days, hashtags expressing that sentiment, including #Merkelschweight (which translates as “Merkel is silent,”) and “Social media makes racist speech much more available, much more accessible,” she adds, referencing Dylann Roof, the white South Carolina man accused of killing nine people at a church in Charleston who were black. #Merkelsagwas (“Merkel, say something”) have been trending on Twitter.

In 2010, she faced a backlash after saying that a multicultural society, with different immigrant groups who “live side-by-side and enjoy each other,” had “utterly failed” in Germany. Other European leaders, including then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, also made similar statements at the time. In the US, responses to racism and xenophobia are also flourishing online, Daniels says. She singles out the Black Lives Matter movement, founded to raise awareness about the killings of unarmed young black people by police. But while anti-racist activism has gained increasing prominence through social media, it’s not the whole story. “That shift from the one to the many is significant, but it’s not the tools that are driving the change, it’s the people, it’s the social movement and that’s what makes me hopeful,” she says.

Will a crusade against Facebook’s commenting policy also curb xenophobia against refugees in Europe? It’s difficult to tell, but Merkel appears to have taken up the cause. Perhaps in response to the #Merkelschweight label, she is now speaking out more freely against xenophobic attacks – including a number of arson attempts at refugee centers, the Washington Post reports. “It is repulsive how far-right extremists and neo-Nazis are trying to herald dumb messages of hate,” Merkel said at a refugee center in the eastern city of Heidenau, according to the Post. “Germany is a country which respects the dignity of every single individual. This is what it says in our constitution, and this applies to everyone staying in our country.”
© The Christian Science Monitor


Facebook Censors Refugee Photographs

by Nicholas D Mirzoeff

1/9/2015- On August 28, 2015, a boat filled with Palestinian and Syrian refugees sank off the coast of Libya. As many as 150 were drowned. On August 29, Syrian artist Khaled Barakeh posted an album of seven photographs to Facebook, entitled Multicultural Graveyard. Six photographs showed drowned children and youths from the shipwreck, while one depicted a pile of orange body bags. He did not indicate their source. The photographs are elegiac, mournful and devastating. They were shared over 100,000 times, reaching me on August 30 via an Indian friend living in the U.K. I was moved to write a blog post “The Drowned and the Sacred” that has been read and shared thousands of times.

However, on August 31 many of the Facebook community, who had shared and discussed the photographs and my post, noticed that the link to Barakeh’s album had disappeared from their timelines and activity logs, including myself. In the screenshots below, I have obscured names other than my own and Barakeh’s because, even though these were public posts, this seems right: I am happy to undelete on request. Here’s a typical thread (below):

Barakeh censored

I confirmed with the artist that his album had been deleted by the app. None of us received any notification or explanation from Facebook as to why they had all been deleted, as this thread (below) indicates:

Thread on deleted Barakeh

It is the case that in some threads, a few commenters had questioned why the photographs were being shown (see below).

Far more comments, however, expressed gratitude at being able to view them, while being shocked and saddened at their content. And even more were shocked at their censorship (below):

No messages were received to explain the removals. Facebook’s posted standards explain only: “We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.” In this case, the images are graphic only insofar as we know that they depict death. No injury or blood is visible, nor are the bodies exposed in ways that might be found “graphic.” Certainly, there can be no question of sadism, glorifying or celebrating violence.

Barakeh is a well-known and widely exhibited artist. There is no justification in Facebook’s own rubric for this arbitrary and unexplained action. It was applied inconsistently and some have since reported that the photographs have been restored, following extensive outrage on Facebook itself and Twitter. Here Facebook has often done more harm than good. In restoring a screen shot of the album to Barakeh’s timeline, the title of the album, Multicultural Graveyard, has been deleted. That title indicates that the intent of the image sharing was to provoke reflection on what has happened to multiculturalism, as well as a mourning for the tragedy of lost young lives. Without it, a viewer might have more reason for concern.

In recent days, people have also seen posts on Australian refugee camps, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and Johannesburg street art disappear. What is Facebook doing? Is it a cock-up or a conspiracy? Either way, we should be concerned. Adrian Chen reported last year that Filipina/o workers are paid about $300 a month to delete content that they find inappropriate for “companies like Facebook and Twitter.” Facebook wouldn’t share anything more with him about how this happens. But if he’s right, what’s happening here is not a tweak of the algorithm but a low-paid, albeit often highly skilled, tech drone swiping left. These are the categories Chen says are used to delete posts at Whisper: “pornography, gore, minors, sexual solicitation, sexual body parts/images, racism.” So my guess is that the simple depiction of three children, whose torsos (not genitalia) were partly exposed led to a quick decision to remove the photographs.

With close to one billion users, Facebook is, like it or not, the public square in this fraught moment of globalization. In particular, it is being used extensively by refugees themselves and by those seeking to help them. We now need to find ways to hold them to appropriate standards for this vital resource and to agitate to make sure such censorship is not happening elsewhere.
© How To See The World


China: 197 punished for spreading 'rumors' about stock market, Tianjin blast

30/8/2015- A total of 197 people have been punished in a special campaign by Chinese police targeting online rumors about China's stock market, the recent fatal explosions in Tianjin or other key events. A statement issued by the Ministry of Public Security on Sunday said that 165 online accounts were closed for relevant violations. The statement said people punished in the campaign expressed repentance over their misconduct that have "caused panic, misled the public and resulted in disorders in stock market or society." According to the statement, these people are punished for circulating rumors such as "man jumped to death in Beijing due to stock market slump," "at least 1,300 people were killed in Tianjin blasts" and some seditious rumors about China's upcoming commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The ministry statement pledged strict measures to enforce rule of law and punish violations on the Internet and called on Internet operators to strengthen management to ensure cyberspace order.
© Chinese State Press Agency Xinhua


INACH - International Network Against CyberHate

The object of INACH, the International Network Against Cyberhate is to combat discrimination on the Internet. INACH is a foundation under Dutch Law and is seated in Amsterdam. INACH was founded on October 4, 2002 by and Magenta Foundation, Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet.