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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Developing counter narratives to combat online violent extremism

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) this week organized a series of short courses, which concluded today in Sarajevo, on the use of Internet and social media in developing counter narratives to online content promoting violent extremism.

5/2/2016- The courses were designed to address the potential radicalization to violence of individuals through online channels and introduce the participants to innovative ways of developing appropriate counter narratives. The events held in Tuzla, Banja Luka, Mostar and Sarajevo brought together more than 100 participants, including members of the Super Citizens Coalitions Against Hate initiative, educators, religious leaders and local media representatives. “By organizing these courses, the OSCE Mission to BiH is supporting Internet users, young and old, to be able to distinguish between candid personal views and destructive content,” said Jonathan Moore, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Freedom of speech must be protected, but we have to be aware of the threat of violent extremism and the way that material on the Internet can be interpreted and manipulated."

Dzenan Buzadic, social media expert and course trainer, said that society should respond to messages sent by violent groups by promoting counter narratives that deconstruct the idea of violence against innocent people. “Groups promoting violence are active users of social media and the rest of the society should be even more active in preventing violent extremism from spreading any further.” Ljubica Bajo, Co-ordinator of Extracurricular Activities at the United World Colleges in Mostar, said that educators are falling behind children who are much more technologically advanced. “We have to change our approach towards them and work on developing their critical thinking, as well as teaching them that information is never gathered from just one source.”

The courses are organized as part of the OSCE Mission’s project on supporting the dialogue for preventing violent extremism in BiH. This project contributes to the OSCE’s wider campaign “United in Countering Violent Extremism” (#UnitedCVE), which highlights the Organization’s comprehensive approach to preventing violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism.

© The OSCE


Austria: Young Nazi sympathisers found guilty

Three young people have been found guilty of engaging in Nazi activities after they drew Nazi tattoos and posted photos of them online.

5/2/2016- A 20-year-old, who was found to have a German war flag used by the Nazis and portraits of Nazi Socialists in his room, was sentenced by a youth court in Salzburg to 19 months in prison, three months unconditional. He and a 19-year-old accomplice were found guilty of using a pin and eyeliner to tattoo a hand-sized swastika onto someone's chest and then posting the photos online. In addition to the tattooing, the 20-year-old was also accused of shouting Nazi slogans out of his window and singing the song 'Polaken-Tango' by the banned neo-Nazi rock group Landser in front of his brother and his brother's girlfriend. He was arrested after his brother called the police, who found him in his room wrapped in the war flag and surrounded by photos of prominent Nazis.

"I now know this is nonsense"
He told the court that he regretted his actions, which took place in August 2011 when he was 15-years-old, and that he had now changed. Pleading guilty, he said: "I now know that this is nonsense." He was charged separately for his Facebook account, where he also posted pictures of himself making Nazi salutes, which he told judge Bettina Maxones-Kurkowski he had done to “show others that he belongs here”. A 24-year-old, who was inspired by the 20-year-old, received a suspended seven year sentence for also tattooing himself with Nazi symbols, including engraving the number 18, the numerical symbol of Adolf Hitler's initials, onto his upper arm. The 19-year-old received a conditional sentence of one month.
© The Local - Austria


New Online Tool Helps Sikh Americans Report Discrimination, Hate Violence

3/2/2016- After the success of The Sikh Coalition's FlyRights mobile app, the organization launched a new online tool, ReportHate, this week to help Sikh Americans and others report incidents of harassment, discrimination, and hate violence. "Hate comes in many forms," Arjun Singh, law and policy director of The Sikh Coalition, told NBC News. "This new tool will allow us to capture the many ways in which Sikh Americans are being targeted, whether legally actionable or not."

With better data, the nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization hopes to be better able to identify and quantify the types of bigotry Sikh Americans face — such as verbal harassment, physical assault, property vandalism, school bullying, employment discrimination, denial of public accommodation, airport and airplane difficulties — as well as locate the geographic areas of the country where Sikh Americans are particularly vulnerable. The organization also plans to use this data to more effectively target outreach efforts at local, state and federal levels. "This data will allow us to better understand where and how Sikh Americans are being targeted," Singh said. "We can then share the data with relevant lawmakers, law enforcement, and educators to better combat hate and hate violence."

Although the Sikh religion originated in the Punjab region of India and Sikhs have been in America for more than 125 years, Sikh Americans have been increasingly targeted for violence and intimidation because of their turbans and beards, which represent equality and justice. In the two months since the shootings in San Bernardino, The Sikh Coalition reported that the number of legal intakes processed increased three times compared to the same period in previous years. The Sikh Coalition has also developed a hate crime poster which is being distributed to gurdwaras across the country to help Sikh Americans identify hate crimes and know what to do.
© NBC News


Germany: Fake 'brothel vouchers' for refugees stir far-right hatred

Right-wing social media groups have been sharing pictures of alleged “free brothel vouchers" given to refugees. But the coupons are well-known fakes.

3/2/2016- Photos of the “brothel passes” have been shared on right-wing sites, showing coupon-like slips of paper declaring a “free ticket for a one-time complimentary bordello visit” from various social services offices. "I find this crazy," wrote one member of the Facebook group called PEGIDA + Official Fan Group on Monday. But as the German-language anti-Internet abuse initiative Mimikama reported recently, these tickets are fakes that have been popping up as a hoax for years. One pass allegedly from Bavaria’s Social Services Office states that the coupon is non-transferrable and valid Mondays through Fridays as well as on Christian holidays between 9am and 4pm. But the state of Bavaria does not have a centralized social services office. According to Mimikama, such passes have been showing up on humour sites like since at least 2011 - long before the refugee crisis. The group also found that similar faux-tickets were circulating as far back as the 1980s, as mentioned in a book published in 1989.
© The Local - Germany


New search engine to target anti-Semitism

Meet the Sniper, an app that will scan the net using a new algorithm, looking for anti-Jewish content. Individuals will be able to check the content and take action as needed.

2/2/2016- The World Zionist Organization (WZO) is expected to launch its Sniper app, which it says is a search engine for anti-Semitic content. The Sniper system is set up to scan the internet using an algorithm that will identify certain keywords in different languages. A crew of WZO members will scan the results, confirm the cases that actually show real anti-Semitism, and respond with direct replies or contact authorities in the offending party's country. WZO emphasizes the fact that the app will be monitored and supervised, so that its use will be proper, and not aimed at shaming individuals or groups without proper evidence. The Sniper will create deterrence," say the entrepreneurs behind it, "it won't be so easy to publish a status calling for the murder of Jews, or pictures of burning Israeli flags."

The Sniper's first users will be members of the WZO's global network for combating anti-Semitism, at the WZO's communications center. Later, other users are expected to join in. Their role will be to create a kind of "wall" on the site, on which they will write the personal details of anti-Semitic content publishers, as well as what they published (quotes, screen grabs, pictures, videos, and more). The app is set to be launched Sunday, during a WZO conference aimed at combating anti-Semitism in the modern era, which will be attended by Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein. It will initially operate on a trial basis in countries in Latin America, which has seen a recent rise in anti-Semitism that has not been as well-publicized as European anti-Semitism.
© Y-Net News


Headlines January 2016

Denmark wants to watch everything you do online

The Danish telecommunications industry has expressed concerns over the Justice Ministry’s plan to reintroduce so-called internet session logging, the registration of residents’ online activity.

29/1/2016- Denmark scrapped the practice in 2014 and the European Court of Justice has previously ruled that the blanket retention of internet usage is illegal, but the ministry not only plans to bring back session logging, it will go even further than before. Jakob Willer, the director of the Telecom Industry Association, told news agency Ritzau that the government plans to carry out total surveillance on all online activities by every single internet user. “We are actually a bit shocked that such a massive expansion has been suggested,” he said. While the previous session logging system required telecommunications companies to carry out random checks, Willer said the new plan calls for “logging every individual session” of internet users.

Justice Minister Søren Pind confirmed to Ritzau that he will soon introduce a proposal to reintroduce session logging. “Logging is a very essential tool for the police and PET [the Danish Security and Intelligence Service, ed.]. Therefore we need to have up-to-date logging rules, which we don’t today,” he said. “Today, information is kept on which telephone numbers have called each other and at which time, but if the parties used internet-based communications like Messenger, Skype or iMessage, the information isn’t logged. In today’s world, that doesn’t cut it,” Pind told Ritzau.

Libertarian-leaning party Liberal Alliance said it would oppose any bill to reintroduce the logging of individual internet use. “We live in a liberal democracy and it should be a basic principle that we respect people’s private lives. There is no place for the mass surveillance of residents who aren’t suspected of any criminal activity at all,” party spokes-woman Christina Egelund told Ritzau. She said that the Justice Ministry itself was behind the decision to scrap the practice in 2014. “This would be the reintroduction of rules that the Justice Ministry said a few years ago were useless, expensive and restrictive of our freedom,” she added. The Telecom Industry Association that the costs of implementing the plan would be in the hundreds of millions of kroner. According to Ritzau, the Danish state has required the nation’s telecommunications companies to take random samples of Danes’ internet usage since 2007.
© The Local - Denmark


Facebook Finally Suspends ‘Pegida Macedonia’ Anti-Muslim Page

“Pegida Macedonia”, a Facebook page in Macedonian known for Islamophobic messages, has been taken down after Macedonian users spent weeks reporting the page for hate speech.

29/1/2016- Boasting over 1.1 million users in a country with approximately 2 million citizens, Facebook is the most influential social media platform in Macedonia. Facebook also is frequently used to disseminate discriminatory and hateful content aimed at a Macedonian audience. Like other Balkan countries, Macedonia has a long history of multicultural traditions and its demographic structure has been described as multi-ethnic and multi-religious. The largest religious groups are Orthodox Christians (65%) and Muslims (33%), generally coexisting in tolerance. Though many Macedonian users regularly report hateful posts via Facebook's “Report Abuse” mechanism, much of the content they report remains live. Over the last several years, Facebook has rarely removed a page, group, post or event when it has been reported for spreading discrimination or hate speech, even in cases when such postings included direct threats to individuals or groups.

On December 15, 2015, “Pegida Macedonia” was created on Facebook, a page that clearly promoted Islamophobia. It is unclear if the page's founders have direct connection with the German political movement Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident), or if they are just imitators. The page's contents caused many people to report it, and also to call upon their friends to do the same. Given that reporting abuse on Facebook has shown few positive results in the past, many of those outraged remained passive or pessimistic about the page actually being shut down. Despite numerous reports, Facebook stated several times that the page did not violate its Community Standards, but some users nevertheless continued to report the page for abuse. Some directly addressed their friends who liked the page through tagging.

The number of calls to report this page on Facebook grew daily after the New Year and on January 26, 2016 Pegida Macedonia was finally shut down. One user, who reported the page for hate speech and wished to remain anonymous, received a notification explaining that this page violated Facebook's Community Standards. The notification on Facebook boosted users’ hopes that such crowd-based efforts can bring positive results. Several Facebook users posted screen shots of the notification, which for many represented a sign that the quality of discourse in the community can improve with time. In addition, several local Macedonian media and campaigns that combat hate speech on the Internet wrote about this positive result achieved by the Macedonian Facebook users.

Facebook notification to the users who have continuously reported this page, inform that Facebook has removed this page because it violates its Community Standards.
© Global Voices


UK: Facebook troll who subjected disabled man to ‘tirade’ of online abuse is jailed

Saul Nyland, 25, from Whitworth, near Rochdale, used social media to torment his 31-year-old victim, who has a severe speech impediment and some physical difficulties caused by a childhood accident.

28/1/2016- A Facebook troll who subjected a disabled man to a ‘tirade’ of online abuse has been jailed. Saul Nyland, 25, from Whitworth, Rochdale, used social media to torment his 31-year-old victim, who has a severe speech impediment and some physical difficulties caused by a childhood accident. In a personal statement to the court the victim said the abuse was ‘destroying his life’ and affecting his relationship. He also said he had stopped going out because of the taunts. Nyland, a construction worker, was sentenced to six weeks in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of harassment at Liverpool magistrates court. Lionel Cope, from Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said after the hearing: “Nyland targeted the victim and harassed him because of his disability. “He subjected him to a tirade of abuse online including posting a number of Photoshopped images of the victim which were hugely upsetting to both the victim and his partner.

“When the victim blocked Nyland online, he began ringing the victim on a nightly basis, mocking him for his disability and threatening to harm him. “He also started to post abusive messages on the Facebook site of the victim’s partner.” He added: “Hate crimes will not be tolerated - they are malicious, create fear and ruin lives. “Nobody should be subjected to this abuse, online or offline, and the Crown Prosecution Service does everything in its power to bring these offenders to justice.” The victim, who is employed in the construction industry as a plant operator, had worked alongside Nyland on several sites in the past. He had set up a number of Facebook pages offering advice and information about diggers and tractors which attracted a number of followers. Nyland had an extra two weeks added to his jail term because the case was prosecuted as a hate crime. He was also ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge and a given a two year restraining order.
© The Manchester Evening News


Germany bans far-right Internet platform, arrests 2

27/1/2016- The German government on Wednesday banned a far-right Internet platform that it accused of spreading "racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-Islamic content," and federal prosecutors said two people were arrested. The ban on the Altermedia Deutschland platform is "a clear sign that the rule of law doesn't allow hate crime," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said. The prosecutors' office said that two Germans, identified only as Jutta V. and Ralph Thomas K. in line with German privacy rules, were arrested on suspicion of founding a criminal organization and incitement. Three other suspects weren't arrested. Raids were conducted in homes in four German states and the northeastern Spanish town of Lloret de Mar.

The two arrested people were the administrators of the Altermedia website and therefore responsible for its content, which included banned Nazi slogans and the denial of the Holocaust as well as incitement of violence against foreigners, the prosecutors' office said. The server was located in Russia to prevent German authorities gaining access, it added. German officials asked Russia to switch it off in the coming days. German security officials say that the far right has become much more savvy in using of the Internet and social media to push its message to a broader audience. The head of Germany's domestic intelligence, Hans-Georg Maassen, told reporters Tuesday that "there is the danger of a gray zone developing between far-right extremists, right-wing conservatives and citizen protesters with significant potential for violence."
© The Associated Press


Hitler is alive and well and living online

Adolf Hitler is alive and well and living online, Israeli students have said.

27/1/2016- A vast exhibit of posts, pictures and plaudits have been compiled and revealed by Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA), with campaigners seeking to highlight “a little known issue”. The work analyses social media platforms, websites, blogs and online merchandise, with researchers warning that “glorifying Hitler is a widespread trend on the internet”. Students said that many sites go further, “drawing a complete outline of Hitler’s ideology, interpreting his thought and presenting him as a visionary”.

Examples of Hitler’s presence online include image and video libraries, podcasts, articles and news pages, with neo-Nazis given a wealth of ammunition, including references and contacts. In one religious blog, Hitler is called “a good Christian man who cared deeply about his race and followed the example of Christ… it is not the Holocaust deniers who are a danger to truth and freedom, it is the Christ deniers”. Another site, called, which also honours Hitler, starts by quoting Napolean Bonaparte as saying: “The evils of the Jews do not stem from individuals, but from the fundamental nature of this people.”

The students also highlight several website selling “Hitler souvenirs” and argue that these are often confused with websites selling Second World War military memorabilia sought by genuine collectors. Others urge site visitors to buy Nazi products “to support free speech”. YouTube’s policy is deemed “quite strict”, and while Facebook is acknowledged for removing offensive sites when they are flagged, Twitter’s policy was seen as “more liberal,” meaning that there is “more racist, anti-Semitic and Hitler-glorifying content on this social network”. Concluding, ISCA researchers say that “70 years after his death, Hitler is still alive online. Thanks to his supporters, both Hitler and his ideology are omnipresent. Much more has to be done.”

© Jewish News UK


Facebook Friends Are Fake Friends, Study Finds

25/1/2016- Facebook has turned the word “friend” into a verb, but just because you’ve friended someone on Facebook does that make them your friend in real life? Not according to a study that found almost all Facebook friends are entirely fake. Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, conducted research into how Facebook friendship correlates with real-life friendship. Of the 150 Facebook friends the average user has, Dunbar found that only 15 could be counted as actual friends and only five as close friends. “There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome,” the study found. “In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.”

Rather than increasing people’s social circles, Dunbar suggests Facebook and other social media may function to prevent friendships “decaying” over time. “Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay,” Dunbar wrote. “However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction.” One person who has put the “Facebook friend” concept to the test is photographer Tanja Hollander. Between 2010 and 2015, Hollander set about tracking down and photographing all of her Facebook contacts.

Despite never having met many of them in real life, Hollander found that she was welcomed into 95 percent of the homes of her 600 social media connections. Almost three-quarters even offered her a meal or a place to stay for the night or weekend. “This project is an exploration of friendships, the effects of social networks, the intimate places we call home and the communities in which we live,” Hollander wrote in her Facebook Portrait Project blog. “I have learned about human kindness and compassion. I continue to be surprised by the number of people, especially (the real-life) total strangers, who have opened their homes to me—offering me a place to stay, sharing their lives, their stories and their families while allowing me to document it all.”
© Newsweek


Israeli anonymous messaging app under fire over cyber bullying

Blindspot’s parent company says it has had complaints, but anonymity online is ‘an evolution, whether people like it or not’

23/1/2016- A new Israeli app launched by a company with investors including Will.I.Am and Nicki Minaj has been accused of encouraging teen bullying and Internet trolls. The Blindspot app allows users to send anonymous messages, photos and videos to their contacts without the receiver being able to trace it. It has shot towards the top of the charts in Israel but caused controversy — with politicians and campaigners calling for it to be banned as it could feed online bullying. A Knesset committee on Monday criticized the app, which the company says has had over half a million downloads since it was launched in late December. Dor Refaeli, the brother of model Bar Refaeli, is one of the figures involved in Blindspot, which is due to be launched in the United States and Europe in the coming months.

The launch of Blindspot, owned by an Israeli firm, has been accompanied by the largest campaign for a new app in the country’s recent history, said Moran Bar, CEO of the Israeli blog Geektime. Adverts showing a yellow smiley face with one eye covered by an eye patch adorn billboards across Tel Aviv and on major highways. The app is a key part of the Shellanoo Group, which is funded in part by investments from global celebrities, including music stars Will.I.Am and Nicki Minaj, as well as Jewish Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich. The app works like other social networking channels such as Whatsapp, with users able to chat, send pictures and videos. But the identity of the sender remains anonymous.

‘A lot of sexual harassment’
Adam Shafir, a reporter on an Israeli technology television show, said there had already been cases of bullying. He pointed to similar anonymous apps such as Secret, which was eventually closed down after a campaign against it. “You have a lot of sexual harassment — guys send girls remarks about their bodies, about the things they would like to do to them,” he said. “And then there are specific threats, people saying things like ‘I will kill you’.” The company say there are sufficient checks and balances, with users able to block people and flag threats. Messages deemed serious enough are passed onto police. But Kulanu MK Meirav Ben-Ari said she was concerned that young people would be bullied and could even commit suicide. “If you are going to say something nice, you wouldn’t send it anonymously,” she said.

Ben-Ari last month wrote to Apple Israel CEO Aharon Aharon and Google Israel CEO Meir Brand, warning of the dangers of the app. “I wish to express my opposition to the marketing of this app, and my concern about how teens and kids will use it,” Ben-Ari wrote. “It appears to me that this app will provide a whole new way to insult people. We already have so much denigration, insult, harassment, and shaming on the web, and that is with people being able to identify each other. Why add to it?” Her spokesman later warned that MKs would seek to ban the Blindspot through legislation if app stores did not make it unavailable for download. A survey late last year found that around one in five teenagers has experienced bullying online, with a fifth of those considering suicide. In Israel last summer, a civil servant committed suicide after a post on Facebook accusing him of racism went viral — a claim he denied.

‘It’s the future’
Shafir highlighted the case of a couple who were travelling in Europe when they received a message on Blindspot. “The wife got messages saying her husband is cheating on her,” he said. “The man denies he is cheating, but this can destroy marriages.” David Strauss, a spokesman for Blindspot’s parent company, admitted they had received around 300 emails from the irate husband. “But we are just the platform,” he said. On Monday, the Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee met to discuss the app. Committee member Ben-Ari said that “during the two hours we didn’t hear even one thing that was good about this app.” But Strauss said that anonymity online was “simply an evolution, whether people like it or not.” “Maybe this [MK] didn’t like when people started to use CDs, maybe she really liked cassettes,” he said.


The Roots and Realities of Japan’s Cyber-Nationalism

The prevalence of anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech on Japanese websites has raised concerns about the spread of a virulent strain of right-wing cyber-nationalism in Japan. Furuya Tsunehira traces the rise of Japan’s “Internet right-wingers” and dispels some myths about their identity and potential impact.
By Furuya Tsunehira, Writer and social commentator. Born in Sapporo in 1982. Graduated from Ritsumeikan University. Writes and comments on Japanese youth, mass media, and Internet culture. 

21/1/2016- Japan’s “Internet right-wingers” (netto uyoku or netto hoshu) are a new breed of neo-nationalists who interact almost entirely within their own cyber community, shut off from the rest of society. Their most conspicuous characteristic may be their harshly anti-Korean views, but they also share a fierce animosity toward China, the mainstream media (with the notable exception of the ultraconservative Sankei Shimbun), and the so-called “Tokyo Trial view of history,” with its acknowledgment of wrongs committed by Japan before and during the war. The results of a survey that I conducted at the beginning of 2013 indicate that the average age of Japan’s Internet right-wingers is around 40. Some 75% of them are male, and they are concentrated in major urban areas, particularly the Tokyo-Kanagawa region. Their average annual income is slightly higher than the median for their age, and most are graduates of four-year universities.

This profile of the typical Japanese right-wing netizen contradicts that theory that the young and economically dispossessed are at the heart of the recent surge in xenophobic right-wing extremism. In Europe the rise of ultra-rightist groups, including the National Front in France, is often traced to disaffected low-income and unemployed youth, whose frustration has found expression in a xenophobic backlash against immigrants. In the early years of this century, some Japanese analysts concluded that the same economic and social forces explained the rise of this country’s Internet right-wingers, and the idea quickly rose to prominence. Even now, it plays an important role in the worldview of such ultra-conservative commentators as manga artist Kobayashi Yoshinori. As it turns out, however, the theory lacks any basis in fact.

As we have seen, Japan’s Internet right-wingers are predominantly middle-aged, middle-class urban dwellers (concentrated in the capital region). Their numbers are estimated at between 2.0 million and 2.5 million at the most. This figure is based on the roughly 600,000 votes garnered by ultranationalist candidate Tamogami Toshio (a favorite of the right-wing online community) in the spring 2014 Tokyo gubernatorial election and the 1.42 million ballots cast for the Party for Future Generations (which endorsed Tamogami and likewise attracted enthusiastic support among Internet right-wingers) in the proportional-representation component of the December 2014 House of Representatives election. (The party won two Diet seats as a result.)

Backlash over the 2002 World Cup
The origins of Japan’s cyber-nationalist phenomenon can be traced to 2002, the year Japan and South Korea jointly held the FIFA World Cup. As World Cup fever swept the nation, Japan’s mainstream media kept up an almost manically upbeat tone despite the perception (particularly among those of a nationalistic bent) that the South Korean team was playing dirty and getting away with it. This frustration found an outlet in Internet bulletin boards and other online forums.

With the mainstream media avoiding any comments or coverage critical of the event or of the Koreans, disgruntled fans turned to the Internet, which they regarded as the only medium free from the constraints of official policy or political correctness. The episode fueled a deep distrust of the mainstream media, particularly with regard to coverage of South Korea, and helped set the anti-Korean, anti–mainstream media tone that was to become a defining feature of Japan’s Internet right-wing community. Illustrative of this lineage and its enduring impact is the fact that years later, participants in the Internet-organized anti-Korean demonstrations of 2011 and 2012 (about 10,000 for all demonstrations combined) descended not on the South Korean embassy but on the Fuji Television Building in Odaiba, Tokyo. (They were protesting what they regarded as excessive South Korean influence in the network’s broadcasting policy.)

As this analysis indicates, it is a mistake to equate Japan’s new wave of right-wing nationalism with the xenophobic extremism that economic hardship and immigration have fueled among Europe’s low-income youth. Japan’s new wave of right-wingers consists of relatively computer-literate middle-class men who sought an outlet for their indignation regarding the predominantly upbeat and conciliatory representation of South Korea in the mainstream media. Poverty was not a factor.
Dilemma of the Unrepresented Right

As a result of these origins, the movement was confined to cyberspace and consequently lacked any organized political party capable of representing its views at the national level. Japan also has its cyber-leftists, but the Left has long enjoyed political representation in the Diet through the Japanese Communist Party (which captured about 6 million proportional-representation votes in the 2014 general election) and the Social Democratic Party (1.3 million votes), which have a long tradition of involvement in national politics. The pent-up frustration of rightists who lacked legitimate political representation via a party of their own is doubtless part of the reason right-wingers came to dominate political discourse on the Internet.

Without a party of their own, Japan’s right-wingers have tended to throw their support behind individual politicians representing the hawkish right wing of the Liberal Democratic Party (including Prime Ministers Koizumi Jun’ichirô, Asô Tarô, and Abe Shinzô). It was only in the run-up to the 2014 general election that a party specifically targeted to the non-LDP Right emerged on the national scene and provided a means of quantifying that segment of the population at the national level. The dilemma of the Internet right-wingers as a bloc without a political party found vivid expression in their support for non-LDP maverick Tamogami Toshio (as opposed to LDP candidate Masuzoe Yôichi) in the April 2014 Tokyo gubernatorial election, as well as in their almost unanimous support for the upstart PFG in the general election the same year.

In Thrall to a Matrix Worldview
The big question is how a significant number of affluent, middle-class urbanites have fallen prey to the anti-Korean, anti-mainstream media ideas circulating in cyberspace. A clue to their psychology can be found in the 1999 science fiction hit The Matrix. The premise of the film is that humanity is actually asleep, and what most people believe to be reality is only an elaborate dream world fabricated and controlled by intelligent machines. The plot unfolds as the film’s hero “Neo,” a computer programmer, awakens from the dream, learns the truth, and joins the rebellion against these nonhuman overlords. In a close parallel to the premise of the Matrix, Internet right-wingers talk about “waking up” to the patriotic, anti-Korean truths that the powers that be (primarily the mainstream media) have taken such pains to conceal from the people. Only on the Internet, they believe, is it possible to lift this veil of falsehood. Such, then, is the mentality of the Internet right-wingers. Still, it is legitimate to ask what would make relatively educated urbanites vulnerable to such nonsense.

Filling a Historical Vacuum
The short answer is that history education in Japanese public schools is woefully inadequate, and instruction on modern and contemporary history is particularly sparse. Under Japan’s entrance examination system, students lacking even an elementary knowledge of modern Japanese history can gain admission to (and hence graduate from) a reputable four-year university. As a result, there is little opportunity or incentive to foster historical literacy regarding modern Japan. The curriculum is particularly sketchy when it comes to World War II, including its causes and aftermath. Anxious to avoid controversy and debate, Japan’s education administrators have opted to rush students through a sharply abridged history of the 1930s and 1940s.

Consequently, a surprising number of educated middle-class Japanese are virtually ignorant of circumstances surrounding Japan’s invasion of northern China, its establishment of a puppet state in Manchuria, its military campaign in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, or the immediate postwar years under the US Occupation—although virtually everyone knows about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The inadequate teaching of history in the schools leaves gaping holes where anti-Korean and ultranationalist myths can later take root and grow, nourished by the cant that flows in such abundance over the Internet. This is the basis for the alternative reality to which the Internet right-wingers eventually “awaken,” much like Neo in The Matrix.

Relationship to the Postwar Right
Where, then, did such online demagoguery originate to begin with? Quite simply, it spilled out from Japan’s postwar Right, which traces its history much further back than the 2002 World Cup. Right-wing intellectual discourse in the postwar era was also a highly ingrown, self-contained phenomenon, a kind of pseudo-aristocratic salon centered on two forums: the daily Sankei Shimbun, which emerged as a national newspaper in the 1950s, and Seiron, a monthly magazine of political and social commentary launched in the 1970s. Both supported a very ideologically oriented right-wing conservatism that rejected mainstream views of World War II as a distortion of history perpetrated by the victors (beginning with the Tokyo war crimes tribunal).

An important turning point came with the establishment in 2004 of the independent web-based Japanese Culture Channel Sakura. This was an organized effort by the political Right to exploit the new media, making use not only of satellite television but also of such Internet video-sharing services as Youtube and Niconico to reach a new and younger audience. The Japanese Culture Channel Sakura was the bridge across which the ideas of the postwar political Right, previously confined to a few outlets in the print media, found their way into cyberspace.

But the medium impacts the message, as we know. The migration of right-wing discourse from print media to new media altered the very nature of the content, and the limited comprehension of a less intellectually cultivated and literate audience created further distortions. The theoretical foundations of the postwar Right eroded within the milieu of the Internet, but before anything could be done about it, the two communities began to merge into one another. Although their historical origins are distinct, they are now inextricably intertwined, and the anti-Korean, anti-Chinese, xenophobic tendencies of the Internet right-wingers are often on display.

Twilight of the Cyber-Nationalists
But the era of unfettered cyber-nationalism and xenophobia may be drawing to a close. Under the second administration of Abe Shinzô, the government and the courts are taking a distinctly hostile stance toward these extremists. In November 2014, the Ministry of Justice launched a public campaign to stamp out hate speech. And the following December the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Korean school in Osaka that had sued the extremist group Zaitokukai for broadcasting hate speech outside the school. As governments around the world move to criminalize and ratchet up the penalties for hate speech, the Abe government faces a serious challenge. Unless it moves to quell the rising epidemic of ultranationalist bigotry propagated over the Internet, it could face a damaging loss of global prestige even as it strives to assume a more proactive role in international security.

Meanwhile, in October 2015, the Party for Future Generations—the sole representative of the Internet right wing on the national political stage—lost its meager foothold in the House of Representatives when both of its members rejoined the LDP. Left with just four members in the House of Councillors, the party would appear to be on the brink of dissolution. These developments suggest that the twilight of the Internet right-wingers is not far off. Some predict that the xenophobic ultra-nationalism that has taken hold in cyberspace will gradually be displaced by a more moderate, common-sense brand of Japanese conservatism—one in touch with the real world, not just an Internet version of it. Disturbing as the voice of cyber-extremism may be, its influence on Japanese politics and society remains limited, and its heyday is nearing an end.
Originally written in Japanese and published on November 17, 2015.
© Nippon


Facebook launches controversial censorship campaign aimed at silencing racism and extremism

Social network accused of free speech clampdown as it unveils plans to wipe out 'hate speech'

19/1/2016- Facebook has launched a controversial censorship campaign designed to silence hate speech, extremism and "racism" in Europe. It unveiled its brand new Online Civil Courage Initiative yesterday following months of discussion with the German government. Although Facebook insists its strategy is about combating extremism, it does not make it clear whether this means Islamic terrorism, right wing racism or both. Some critics of the scheme fear Facebook is under government pressure to censor discussion of the migrant crisis currently gripping Europe and Germany. Announcing the launch of the initiative, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, said: "The best cure for bad ideas is good ideas. "The best remedy for hate is tolerance. "Hate speech has no place in our society - not even on the Internet. "Facebook is not a place for the dissemination of hate speech or incitement to violence."

The initiative was launched following long discussions with groups opposed to racism and extremism, as well as the German Federal Ministry for Justice. Anetta Kahane of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation , an anti-racist group, said: "Right-wing extremism, racism and antisemitism are present in all walks of life in Germany. "The digital civil society now faces the huge challenge of countering the hate in the network." Free speech has become a hot button topic across Europe and particularly in Germany, where police and media were accused of trying to cover up the sickening Cologne sex attacks. Germany has a long history of criminalising certain topics, particularly those relating to its Nazi past. After the Second World War, it was clear that anything that could re-create National Socialist or racist thinking had to be stopped,” Volker Beck of the country’s Green Party told the Washington Post. “I’m a civil rights defender, but there has to be a red line.”

On Facebook, commentators claimed the measures were an assault on freedom of speech. "Sad day for Germany," one man wrote. "When a government censors speech, it has lost the moral high ground." Another person raged: "How typically 'progressive' to name something with the word 'courage' when its whole point is that your feelings are hurt and you can't hear any words you don't like." "This is all well and good, but are you also removing objectionable posts from Islamic extremists, who regularly use Facebook to recruit young people to join Jihad against the West?" one commenter asked. Others hailed the initiative and called for the "trolls" who opposed it to be silenced.
© The Mirror


Facebook's New Campaign Against Hate Ignores Its Own Internal Racism

Facebook pledged more than $1 million for European NGOs that track hate posts amid criticism it is not doing enough to tackle xenophobia and Islamophobia.

18/1/2016- Facebook announced Monday a campaign targeting extremism and xenophobic posts across the European continent after the German government raised concerns over the spread of anti-immigration sentiment on the social media platform and Facebook’s inaction in tackling the problem. Hate speech "has no place in our society," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said as she announced his company’s new "Initiative for Civil Courage Online" in Berlin. The United States-based company has pledged more than US$1 million to support non-governmental groups in Europe in their efforts against racist and extremist posts. The news comes after prosecutors in Hamburg launched an investigation in November into Facebook on the suspicion that it is not doing enough to tackle hate speech. Last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also urged Facebook to do more regarding the problem.

While Facebook's ground rules prohibit bullying, harassment and threatening language, critics say the social media platform is not following its own guidelines on hate speech and abuse, especially that which targets Islam and Muslims. In fact, an investigation by British newspaper The Independent last January said Facebook and Twitter were ’allowing Islamophobia to flourish’ by not taking down hundreds of abusive accounts and profiles that repeatedly use Islamophobic language and rhetoric. Muslim organizations in the United Kingdom told the paper that they have repeatedly alerted Facebook and Twitter to abusive content but the social media giants did nothing about it. The flagged posts included accusations of Muslims being rapists, paedophiles and comparable to cancer, with some users even calling for Muslims to be beheaded.

The investigation included several examples of Islamophobic content. A Facebook user, who was referring to the beheading of Westerners in Syria said: 'For every person beheaded by these sick savages we should drag 10 off the streets and behead them, film it and put it online. 'For every child they cut in half … we cut one of their children in half. An eye for an eye.” However, according to the Independent, the accounts behind the abusive messages have not been suspended, nor have the posts been removed. Also, in November last year an anti-Islam group in the U.S. state of Texas publicized the names and addresses of over 60 Muslims and Muslim "sympathizers" on its Facebook page. The group describes itself as an "organization that stands in opposition (on all levels)" to Islamic groups.

Neither the post nor the account were taken down or suspended despite Facebook’s supposed policy of removing content when it presents a "genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety." Islamophobia on social media has significantly increased since the rise of the Islamic State group, the recent terror attacks in Paris, as well as the downing of a Russian airliner by the same extremist group and the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe.
© teleSUR


Facebook Starts Cracking Down on Extremist Posts in Europe

18/1/2016- Facebook began a Europe-wide campaign on Monday to thwart extremist posts on social media, after German politicians in particular raised concerns about a rise in xenophobic comments linked to an influx of refugees. The company launched its "Initiative for Civil Courage Online" in Berlin, pledging over 1 million euros ($1.09 million) to support non-governmental organizations in their efforts to counter racist and xenophobic posts. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said hate speech "has no place in our society," including on the Internet. Facebook's ground rules forbid bullying, harassment and threatening language, but critics say it does not enforce them properly. On Friday, the firm said it had hired a unit of the publisher Bertelsmann to monitor and delete racist posts on its platform in Germany.

In November, prosecutors in Hamburg launched an investigation into Facebook on suspicion of not doing enough to prevent the dissemination of hate speech. Top German politicians and celebrities have voiced concern about the rise of anti-foreigner comments on Facebook and other social media as the country struggles to cope with a tide of new migrants that amounted to 1.1 million last year alone. Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Facebook to do more, and the Justice Ministry set up a task force with Facebook and other social networks and Internet service providers with the aim of identifying criminal posts more quickly and taking them down.
© Reuters


USA: FB’s Sheryl Sandberg believes likes and positivity can beat terrorists online (comment)

By Tom Warren

21/1/2016- In recent weeks, tech executives from Twitter, Google, Microsoft, and other companies met with members of President Obama's administration to discuss methods to combat terrorism online. While the closed-door summits have reportedly shown that technology leaders "appeared to be open to helping" Obama's government fend off terrorist groups like ISIS, the conversations have remained largely private. One executive, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who was present at the meetings appeared at the World Economic Forum in Davos yesterday to highlight one way that Facebook could combat terrorists. Referring to a recent "like attack" on a neo-Nazi party Facebook page, Sandberg believes positive messages on terrorist pages could help counter their views. "What was a page filled with hatred and intolerance was then tolerance and messages of hope," said Sandberg, reports The Guardian.

The idea of overwhelming terrorist pages with positive views and likes is not one that can be quickly discredited, but it's not clear whether Facebook has any data to show it works regularly. This approach also leaves it up to regular Facebook users to address terrorism pages, rather than the company itself. Sandberg reportedly demonstrated Facebook's emergency suicide prevention tool at the recent Obama administration meeting. It's a tool that lets users flag friends who have posted suicidal thoughts, and Obama's team reportedly "wondered if such a system could be used to flag terrorist content or detect a user who appears to be radicalizing." It's not known whether Facebook is agreeable to the idea of flagging terrorist content, but Sandberg's comments this week show that the social network still has alternative ideas to combating such content.

Facebook isn't alone in its different approach. Jared Cohen, Alphabet's director of Google Ideas, thinks that the industry should work to force ISIS off the web. In a separate talk in London yesterday, Cohen suggested shutting down Twitter accounts associated with ISIS, and that "success looks like Isis being contained to the dark web." Cohen has shared his thoughts extensively before, but none of the big technology companies have publicly committed to any direct action.Cohen's and Facebook's approaches also bring up the question of whether driving terrorists from social networks and the internet in general will do more harm than good. At least none of the tech companies are phoning up Bill Gates to "close up" the internet, though.
© The Verge


Australia: Anti-Islam activist fails in bid to sue Facebook

18/1/2016- An anti-Islam activist has failed in a bid to sue Facebook for $1.25 million after it briefly blocked him from a "patriot" group he administers. A Federal Court judge last month dismissed the case as it had "no reasonable prospect of success" and ordered costs against Gary Young. Mr Young, of Goulburn, had alleged the social media giant maliciously breached his right to free political speech. He sought $1 million in exemplary damages, $250,000 in aggravated damages and costs. Mr Young is one of two administrators of COMMON CAUSE, a more than 2200-member anti-Islamic group that advocates banning halal food, land sales to foreigners, and preventing people on visas from accessing Centrelink payments for more than two children. He frequently writes about the "Islam invasion" of Australia.

The motivation for the court action came after Facebook locked Mr Young – who uses an assumed name on Facebook: Gee Young – out of COMMON CAUSE without warning between September 30 and October 2. Facebook has an "authentic name" policy which requires users to use their own name, or a nickname that is "a variation of [the] authentic name". Mr Young's case claimed that FaceBook Australia had "abruptly maliciously and deliberately and or negligently" removed him as administrator. He claimed that Facebook's action interfered with his "implied right to free political speech" and also argued the company's conduct in requiring him to establish his true identity was misleading or deceptive.

Mr Young alleged he suffered in the form of "ridicule, loss of standing and loss of contact with his members and readers and a serious loss of sign-ups of membership to Common Cause", as well as "hurt anxiety and total denied by all respondents as to applicants (sic) legal rights within Australia to Free (sic) political speech". He also sought damages for allowing "the integrity of COMMON CAUSE to be impugned by allowing unauthorised posts in applicants (sic) absence, the removal of material and membership from Common Cause" and "loss of faith and credibility among his peers who were shocked at Applicants (sic) sudden disappearance" from the group. During proceedings, Mr Young admitted he had signed up to Facebook's terms, but said he had not read all the documentation because he found it to be too lengthy and confusing.

Justice John Griffiths noted that, under Australian law, the person is bound by terms they have signed. "It is immaterial that the person has not read the document," Justice Griffiths wrote. The judge said Mr Young's case had been prevented from success by "three insurmountable obstacles", including that Facebook Australia – who the case was against – does not own, control or host the Facebook Services, and the sign-up terms expressly said that users were entering an agreement with Facebook Ireland. Justice Griffiths found Facebook Australia had been entitled to summary judgment.

The judge dismissed both the originating and interlocutory applications and ordered costs against Mr Young. "Mr Young does not have reasonable prospects of success in obtaining any of the relief he seeks against that entity. "Nor does he have a prima facie case to obtain any of the relief he proposes to seek under the proposed amended statement of claim against either Facebook Ireland or Facebook Inc. "Accordingly, his interlocutory application must be dismissed."
© The Canberra Times


South Africa: F W De Klerk reports 45 social media posts for 'racism against whites'

'By far the most virulent and dangerous racism - expressed in the most extreme and violent language - has come from blacks'

17/1/2016- The F W de Klerk Foundation has ignited a new race row after it complained to the Human Rights Commission about "45 social media postings that incite extreme violence against white South Africans". The complaint follows complaints lodged against tweets by Penny Sparrow, who described blacks as 'monkeys' and other posts by economist Chris Hart and Gareth Cliff. In a statement, the foundation said it "strongly condemned the recent racist remarks made by Penny Sparrow regarding black South Africans who made use of public beaches on New Year’s Day." But it went on to say, "an analysis of Facebook and Twitter messages shows that by far the most virulent and dangerous racism - expressed in the most extreme and violent language - has come from disaffected black South Africans. The messages are replete with threats to kill all whites - including children; to rape white women or to expel all whites from South Africa."

The foundation cited Section 16 (2) of the constitution which said that the right to free expression "does not extend to propaganda for war; to Incitement to imminent violence; or to advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion and that constitutes incitement to cause harm." It said that the Promotion of Equality and Prohibition of Unfair Discrimination Act stated that "no person may publish, propagate, advocate or communicate words based on one or more of the prohibited grounds, against any person, that could be construed to be hurtful; to be harmful or to incite harm; or to promote or propagate hatred.” The foundation said it wanted the commission to "investigate and to report on the observance of human rights” in so far as these messages constitute hate speech in terms of section 16 (2) of the Constitution and Section 10 of PEPUDA.
© The Rand Daily Mail


USA: Islamophobic Group Creates Bizarre Fake Website To Incite Hate Against Illinois Muslims

An unknown anti-Islam group has created a fake website that spouts hateful rhetoric while pretending to represent an Illinois Muslim organization — adding fuel to an already volatile debate at a nearby evangelical college over a professor who said Christians and Muslims worship the “same God.”

12/1/2016- Last week, a new website pretending to be the Islamic Center of Wheaton (ICW) was quietly published on the Internet. But unlike the actual ICW, whose website advertises family fundraising dinners, the flashy fake page voiced extremist positions common among militant groups, such as lauding the attackers in there recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino as “myrters” (sic) and featuring a section dedicated to “teaching children to be martyrs.” “In praise of the martyrs Allahu Akbar!” the website says of the terrorists who murdered 130 people in November.  The fake website also makes mention of professor Larycia Hawkins, the embattled professor from nearby Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in Illinois. Hawkins, who is Christian, garnered national attention after Wheaton took action to fire her for saying that Muslims and Christians worship the “same God.” The webpage calls administrators “crusaiders” (sic) and uses radical terminology to condemn the school for reprimanding Hawkins, who has been supported Muslims and Christians throughout the U.S.

The author of the website reportedly also sent emails to several Wheaton city officials — including the mayor — falsely claiming that the ICW has an affiliation with ISIS. ICW repre-sentatives say they were informed about the website after a local detective visited the center to ask about its content. According to a statement released on Monday, the center has since contacted the FBI requesting an investigation, removal of the website, and the prosecution of its creators. In addition, the ICW asked local law enforcement for increased security around their facility, expressing concern that the website could trigger a backlash similar to the growing number of attacks on mosques that have occurred across the country over the last two months. “The Islamic Center of Wheaton (ICW) is under cyber-attack by an unknown group,” the statement read. “A website bearing the same name of ICW is on the web and it contains lies, fabrications, and slander about Islam; our beloved prophet, and our community. This site is also making mockery of Christians who are interacting with ICW.”

The author of the website is still unclear, but hidden within its “press” link is a rambling, typo-ridden manifesto explaining the supposed rationale for its creation. The author, who identifies only as “Commander X,” spouts anti-Islamic ideals while railing against local officials and Wheaton College professors for falling victim to the religious world’s “radical left.” “We are dismayed that the local Wheaton government, a critical number of Wheaton College professors and so many Christian Churches have been co-opted by the radical left and their open immigration agenda,” the author, who describes themselves as a lifelong Wheaton resident who now lives in a “Scandinavian country,” writes. The author also cites presidential candidate Donald Trump as having “initiated the debate” over Syrian refugees and Muslim immigration when he proposed a ban on allowing any Muslims into the country in December — a policy the author appears to express agreement with.

The website goes on to decry major evangelical organizations such as the Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief, lamenting instances where they and other groups launched campaigns to voice solidarity with Muslims or endorse comprehensive immigration reform. “This is only the beginning of our guerrilla campaign,” the message concludes, before embedding a video from Vice media documenting religious extremists in the United Kingdom. The Chicago chapter of the Center for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also issued a statement on Monday condemning the website and asking for law enforcement to investigate the incident. On Tuesday, CAIR Chicago’s Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said digital attacks on Muslims are common, but the highly polished page is unusually sophisticated. “We’ve this sort of thing before, but never at this cut and dry level,” Ahmed told ThinkProgress. “We’ve seen more bully-type websites. But in this case, there is a clear attempt to defraud the web surfer to believe that this is the actual Islamic center.”

Rehab noted that the fake webpage, while unusual, is part of a larger uptick in Islamophobia currently sweeping the United States. “There is an atmosphere of Islamophobia that many of us are claiming is worse than post-9/11,” Rehab said, adding that the creator cites a Christian faith. “At the same time, this radicalism does not represent white Christians, just as other radicalism does not represents Muslims.” CAIR Chicago and ICW are hoping the site will be taken down, arguing it violates copyright laws and incites violence. Meanwhile, the “legal” section of the fake page claims the project is a “parody site,” although the author maintains an extremist tone: the page condemns Muslims as “people from this deficient culture,” and while it acknowledges that “as far as we know, the real Islamic Center of Wheaton does not actually support violence against successful, advanced Western cultures,” it also says local Muslims “should be monitored with an extremely wary eye.”

UPDATE #1: JAN 12, 2016 3:37 PM
Shortly after this article was published, the fake website seems to be offline. Visiting the website presents the user with the following message, which appears to charge the creators with a hate crime:
"This domain name associated with the website has been seized pursuant to an order issued by a U.S. District Court. A federal grand jury has indicted several individuals and entities alledgedly(sic) involved in the operations of and related websites charging them with the following federal crimes: Conspiracy to Commit Hate Crimes (18 U.S.C. § 249), Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Impersonation (18 U.S.C. § 668), Copyright Infringement (18 U.S.C. § 371), Criminal Copyright Infringement (18 U.S.C. § § 2, 2319; 17 U.S.C. § 507)"

UPDATE #2: JAN 12, 2016 6:49 PM
The website has been updated again, this time changing the list of charges as well as the federal agency logos to include accusations that appear to mock the website's detractors, such sporting the emblem of the nonexistent "U.S. Department of Muslim Sensitivity."
© Think Progress


Czech Rep: Foreign minister warning of anti-Semitism

12/1/2016- The extremist server White Media is a sign of alarming rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Czech Republic, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said yesterday. It is necessary to fight anti-Jewish moods, Zaoralek said at the first meeting of Katharina von Schnurbein, EC coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, with partners from other countries and international institutions. "I am afraid of attacks on minorities and Jews now taking place in European towns, even in the Czech Republic," Zaoralek said. He said not only Czech society had to take a lesson from history and prevent the hatred for Jews from leading to a tragedy similar to the Holocaust. "Bearing in mind what was in the past, we must prevent this from repeating," Zaoralek said.

The presence of anti-Jewish sentiments in the Czech Republic is evidenced by the server White Media that in the past weeks repeatedly leaked the content of the email of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) it hacked. "It seems to me alarming that the server has listed the people who send their children to Jewish schools," Zaoralek said. "I have decided to speak about it with the interior minister, Sobotka and our partners in the USA and Israel," he added. Von Schnurbein said prevention of the spread of anti-Semitism through the Internet was one of the spheres to which she wanted to devote her efforts along with partnership countries and organisations. She said education in the sphere of human rights and introduction of European legislation that bans Holocaust denial in all EU countries were her other objectives. Von Schnurbein said prevention of discrimination in the sphere of services was her fourth priority.
© The Prague Daily Monitor


Czech Anti-Islam Facebook page blocked

11/1/2016- The Facebook company yesterday blocked the page of the group "We Do Not Want Islam in the Czech Republic", the group's representatives said, protesting against what they call censorship and efforts to suppress criticism. The group has been accused of extremism and xenophobia. Its representatives have denied the allegations, arguing that they only reject Islam and fight for the freedom of speech. Facebook already blocked the page last June. "At that time, this was done on the basis of slanders and attacks by pro-Islam activists," Bloc Against Islam chairman Martin Konvicka said in a press release. "The page administrators managed to prove to Facebook that opposition to the ideology of Islam is not the same as fomenting hatred for individual believers," Konvicka said.

This time, the situation may be more serious, Konvicka. "All of us know about the calls by many European politicians, including German Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and Czech Interior Minister (Milan) Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD), for censorship of social networks," Konvicka said. The server has written that the measure may be connected with Konvicka's prosecution. At the end of last year, the police accused him of incitement to hatred. The administrators of the page in question have sent a message to their followers that they will communicate with them through reserve pages until the original one is renewed. "Those believing that the cancellation of discussion platforms will silence the voices of civic protest are absolutely wrong," Bloc Against Islam deputy chairman Petr Hampl said. "Just like 25 years ago, one has to fight for freedom of speech," he added.
© The Prague Daily Monitor


Meet Anonymous-linked 'international cyber-brigade' fighting a virtual war against ISIS

Hacktivists offer unprecedented insight into their battle to smash jihadis' online recruitment and propaganda machine

12/1/2016- During the Spanish Civil War, huge numbers of boys left their homes and volunteered to fight against fascism. Now thousands of angry young men and women are fighting a very modern war against ISIS without even leaving their bedrooms. has spent several weeks talking to a shadowy group of computer experts who have banded together under the name Varuna Group to do their bit in the conflict against the so-called Islamic State. This Anonymous-inspired "virtual international brigade" agreed to tell their story in a bid to inspire others to join the battle against an enemy which expertly uses the internet to spread propaganda and win over new recruits. We have agreed to withhold the real names of the group, which told us that most of their members are actually women.

"We know how effective ISIS is at using online media to recruit people," one member of the group said. "It sickened me to see all the violent images and videos they put online and most especially how young people were somehow perversely attracted to them. "When you see the violence that these ISIS members put out into the world, you really want to take them on." The hackers were inspired to take action against online ISIS supporters after Anonymous' declaration of "war" following the terror attacks on Paris. Although they have never actually met in real life, the group became friends after getting involved in last years' campaign to "troll" ISIS , which was part of the wider Anonymous "OPISIS" campaign. As they began to understand the extent and power of the Islamic State propaganda machine, the group decided to take further action.

Now they have built up a vast database of intelligence which shows how ISIS supporters use the internet to spread their message of jihad - and how hacktivists are trying to stop them. They have reported vast numbers of Twitter accounts, resulting in their closure, and keep a watchful eye on the social network to help stop extremists from maintaining an online presence. If there is an imminent threat, the hacktivists immediately report it to police.

Their work reveals:
# ISIS has developed sophisticated tools to help them dodge social media bans and continue spreading their message of hate.
# Extremists hide videos depicting sickening acts of violence inside cartoons, in the hope of exposing youngsters to their vile propaganda.
# Hacktivists are bombarded with death threats and face a heavy psychological toll as they come face-to-face with the sickening videos created by their enemies.
# The ISIS online Encyclopedia of Terror has been massively expanded and now contains recipes for creating the poison ricin, building 'sticky bombs' and kidnapping innocent people

Video nasties
The Anonymous-linked hackers showed us a disturbing video which was "hidden" inside a cartoon, so that it could be posted on YouTube without being automatically censored. One video started with a Christmas scene, before abruptly cutting to horrific imagery of a man being burned to death inside a metal cage. "There is a fraternity and sisterhood that gets formed from seeing so much violence and constantly being attacked online," a hacker told us. "We have seen people getting stoned to death or beheaded. "It's cruel stuff that haunts us when we turn off the virtual world and get back into real life." Anonymous and its offshoots want to make sure this sort of vile content is wiped off the internet permanently by identifying the individuals which publish it and then reporting them to Twitter. "We report not only Daesh [ISIS] accounts but also tweets that show beheadings of people in detail - not only as pictures but also as cruel and bloody videos," a female hacker said. Overall, the hacktivists have now identified 15,000 ISIS Twitter accounts and 500 websites, collecting them together into a vast database.

The ISIS digital 'secret weapon'
The wider Anonymous OPISIS campaign has seen tens of thousands of extremist Twitter accounts shut down, prompting Islamic hackers to come up with their own ways of dodging social media bans. We have learned that one Libyan computer expert has devised a program which will automatically change a person's Twitter's username every 15 minutes. Previously, extremists like the British "jihadi bride" Sally Jones were forced to set up brand new Twitter accounts several times a day, because the social network kept banning her. But the new digital tool could allow them to automatically dodge ban attempts, without having to go through the laborious process of starting up a new account. The Varuna Group showed us how one prominent female extremist online propagandist was banned from Twitter, but kept popping up again with a slightly different username to begin spreading the same vile message.

Her account relaunched yesterday using a chilling picture of a soldier manhandling a young Yazidi "child bride" as its banner image, and was quickly followed by more than 1,000 people before Twitter suspended it. Even though this female extremists' account is up for hours at at time, it is used to spread horrifying videos, make vicious threats and share links to the so-called Encyclopedia of Terror. Some of the most famous propagandists pop up hundreds of times using slightly different names, but using the same violent rhetoric. "We found manuals explaining how to make ricin or assassinate, kidnap, or perform lone wolf attacks in the West," one of the Varuna hacktivists told us, before sending links to the terrifying content. "We found operational security files, showing how to keep your privacy online, and how to make sticky bombs [which can be attached to vehicles or other targets]. "The whole thing is perverted."

Twitter wars
If you know where to look, it is easy to find everything from bomb-making recipes to religious propaganda on Twitter, because it is next to impossible for the social network to monitor every tweet. Cyber-jihadis have built up a huge amount of information, which is invaluable to terrorists and sleeper cells on a number of websites, as well as a vast library of execution videos. Links to this content are then openly shared on the social network, which often relies on individuals to report dangerous content because of the sheer volume of messages posted every single day. Hackers think it should do more to tackle the problem. "American companies are letting sworn enemies of everything we stand for as a nation and a culture spew their culture of hate using their technology," one hacktivist said. "Why on earth is a company like Twitter not doing anything about this?" He called on Twitter to install image-recognition software to quickly identify extremist iconography and employ a full-time team to monitor content to make sure ISIS was not able to publish its dangerous propaganda.

The Anonymous-linked hacktivists exclusively shared details of the anti-ISIS strategy, which is contained in the following four steps:
# Sabotage ISIS's online image, which often entices young and impressionable people to join their ranks
# Report imminent threats to the authorities
# If there is no imminent threat or important intelligence present on the account, report ISIS accounts to Twitter and get them suspended.
# Catalogue all other ISIS online profiles, hashtags, websites and other links in a comprehensive document to be shared with authorities
The group make great efforts to make sure their targets do not know they are being surveilled. "We work very closely within our group and with others, especially we need people to avoid reporting an account that contains an imminent threat," one female hacker said. "In those cases, we do everything to keep those accounts alive as long as possible. "There is a lot of work involved in communicating privately so the alleged terrorist is not tipped off."

Shell shock
"We are volunteers doing it in our free time because we care," the hackers added. "And that’s what it’s all about – doing whatever we can. "We are only little drops into the huge ocean. But maybe our little drops make the difference. We want to encourage everyone to join in the hunt for Daesh ." But part of the work of tackling ISIS online involves trawling through their propaganda material, which features beheadings and sickening videos of victims being burned alive, blown up or thrown from tall buildings. "I cannot tell you how shocked I am to see what goes on here," the hacktivist continued. "The violence is extreme and young kids see it too. "But all this violence and cruelty only strengthen our resolve in the fight against Isis."
© The Mirror


Myanmar: Grappling with online hate speech(comment)

By Bernard Cheah

10/1/2016- YANGON: The Lady had finally spoken but will she be able to make the online hatemongers shut up?

Just a day after Myanmar's historic 2015 elections and already anticipating victory at the polls, opposition National League of Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi stressed that she does not condone hate, regardless if it is against ethnic groups or minorities in the country. "Hate leads to violence, and it can destroy society," she said in an interview with the BBC. "It is something we all have to work together (to resolve)." So-called "hate speech" has become a serious concern in Myanmar in the last few years, with its spread helped largely by the increasing popularity of Facebook. More often than not, the target of the online hate speech, which includes unfounded stories, are the Rohingya, a Muslim minority who live mostly in Myanmar's south-western state of Rakhine. (Myanmar is mostly Buddhist with its adherents representing 80% of the population.)

Myanmar ICT Development Organisation (Mido) co-founder Nay Myo Kyaw said many cannot seem to differentiate between "fake" and "real" news in cyberspace. "Getting news from Facebook and (reading published) journals is not the same," said Nay, who is better known by his blogging moniker Nay Phone Latt. Speaking with this writer days before the election, Nay said that everyone needs to be tech-savvy so they would not be taken in so easily by rumours masquerading as news online. Nay, who ran and eventually won as MP for Thingayun township in the Nov 8 polls, has proposed that the government introduce a syllabus on using technology and social media in schools. In the meantime, there is still his Panzagar or Flower Speech movement, which he initiated in 2014 to curb online hate speech.

Among the tools used by the movement to fight online negativity is a collection of Facebook stickers with cute Japanese-anime inspired drawings and messages in Burmese telling people to "think before you share", "don't spread hate", and "please don't swear". Of course another way of discouraging hate speech online is hauling to court those responsible. But authorities do not seem keen on doing that, at least according to some of the government's critics. Referring to the online hatemongers, legal activist Robert Sann Aung wondered aloud: "Why isn't there any action taken against these individuals?" May Sabe Phyu, senior coordinator of the Gender Equality Network (GEN) in Yangon, said there appears to be no official effort to trace those behind the anonymous "horrible hate speech" online. "Why does the law ignore them?" she asked.

May's husband, Kachin peace activist Patrick Kum Jaa Lee, is serving a three-year jail term for sharing a Facebook post showing someone stepping on a photo of General Min Aung Hlaing. Similarly, Chaw Sandi Tun, a female activist and NLD Youth member, has been thrown behind bars for a post mocking the military. May said: "It seems that the people using real names and profiles are arrested, while those with fake accounts are spared." But there's hope that there will be changes once The Lady's NLD is able to form a new government. In her interview with the BBC, Suu Kyi noted that the people of Myanmar are open to the voice of reason, and there is no reason to let hatred reign. "The great majority want peace and harmony, not fear and hatred," she said.

The question of control
The problem is that while there is no longer any question of NLD's convincing win at the polls, it remains to be seen whether it will really end up in control of the government. The official handover to the new government will not happen until March, and people here are wary of a repeat of what happened after the 1990 polls, which the NLD had also won by a landslide. At the time, the military junta refused to recognise the election results and failed to hand over the reins of government to Suu Kyi's party. Many NLD officials and supporters were jailed and Suu Kyi, then already under house arrest, would herself remain under detention for many more years. Suu Kyi is barred from becoming the president of Myanmar.

The 2008 constitution contains a clause inserted by the military government that states that anyone with foreign children cannot become president – it is seen as the military's attempt to stop her from taking power. Suu Kyi was married to the late Oxford professor Michael Aris; their two grown sons are British citizens. Suu Kyi, however, recently said in a press conference in Yangon that she would be "above the president". Then again, there is the influential nationalist monk group Ma Ba Tha (also known as the Patriotic Association of Myanmar), which has "cautiously welcomed" the NLD victory, even as it warned against any attempt to change the controversial "race and religion laws". In the run-up to the 2015 elections, Ma Ba Tha had urged the public to shun the NLD, saying a win for the opposition party would risk the country being dominated by Muslims. The Lady, then, may not have the last say on the cyber hatemongers.

THIS article is produced for the 2015 Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Seapa) fellowship programme raising the theme "Covering the coverage of the 2015 elections in Myanmar" which BERNARD CHEAH attended.
© The Sun Daily


South Africa: Criminal case against 'racist' Facebook post

A Cape Town man has opened a criminal case against a Facebook user who called for blacks to do to white South Africans what "Hitler did to the Jews".

5/1/2016- For 21-year-old Daniel Amos, Velaphi Khumalo’s post was disturbing and needed to be addressed outside the realm of social media. Amos opened a case of crimen injuria against Khumalo, after he said on Facebook that he hated all whites. He called for them to be "cleansed" out of the country. "I want to cleans this country of all white people. We must act as Hitler did to the Jews. I don't believe any more that the is a large number of not so racist whit people. I'm starting to be sceptical even of those within our Movement the ANC. I will from today unfriend all white people I have as friends from today u must be put under the same blanket as any other racist white because secretly u all are a bunch of racist fuck heads. as we have already seen [all sic]," he wrote. Khumalo said he was unapologetic about his post. He did not respond to requests for comment.

The post was in response to a Facebook post by former KwaZulu-Natal estate agent Penny Sparrow, who compared black New Year’s revellers on the country’s beaches to monkeys. Amos said he was offended by Khumalo’s post, which was circulated on Facebook on Tuesday. "I find it extremely disturbing that 21 years after the end of apartheid, we still see racism from both white and black people." At a time when the country’s citizens should band together, people were spreading racial slurs and making generalisations about an entire race, based on one person’s comments, he said. Amos said he would approach the South African Human Rights Commission. Western Cape police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed the case and said they were investigating.
© News 24


Twitter will tackle homophobic accounts under new hate speech rules

Twitter is taking a harder line on hate speech – after updating its rules to reaffirm a ban on homophobia and other bigotry.

4/1/2016- The social network has long been candid about its issues dealing with anonymous abuse, with many complaining it has become a breeding ground for racist, misogynistic and homophobic trolls. Even groups such as Islamic State and the ‘God Hates Fags’ Westboro Baptist Church have used the platform to spread their messages without repercussions. However, a blog post from Twitter’s safety director Megan Cristina said: “As part of our continued efforts to combat abuse, we’re updating the Twitter Rules to clarify what we consider to be abusive behaviour and hateful conduct. “The updated language emphasizes that Twitter will not tolerate behavior intended to harass, intimidate, or use fear to silence another user’s voice. “As always, we embrace and encourage diverse opinions and beliefs –but we will continue to take action on accounts that cross the line into abuse. It adds: “Over the past year, we’ve taken several steps to fight abuse… [including] increasing our investment in policy enforcement so that we can handle more reports with greater efficiency.

“One of the areas we’ve found to be effective in this multi-layered strategy of fighting abuse is creating mandatory actions for suspected abusive behavior, such as email and phone verification, and user deletion of Tweets for violations. “These measures curb abusive behaviour by helping the community understand what is acceptable on our platform.” The site updated its policy, to clarify: “Any accounts and related accounts engaging in the activities specified below may be temporarily locked and/or subject to permanent suspension. “Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease. “We also do not allow accounts whose primary purpose is inciting harm towards others on the basis of these categories.”
© The Pink News


Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity?

The defining political achievements of the past decade have favored tolerance and empathy – and online discussion has fuelled them all, argues Steven Johnson.

2/1/2016- Every new technology threatens to kill off some revered institution. But in the waning months of 2015, more than a few smart and tech-savvy commentators began suggesting a radical hypothesis: that the rise of social media threatened to deliver a death blow to civic consensus and even to truth itself. “The news brims with instantly produced ‘hot takes’ and a raft of fact-free assertions,” Farhad Manjoo observed in the New York Times. “The extremists of all stripes are ascendant, and just about everywhere you look, much of the internet is terrible.” In the Washington Post, Anne Applebaum went so far as to demand that Mark Zuckerberg donate the entirety of his fortune to undo the damage Facebook has done to democracy. “If different versions of the truth appear in different online versions; if no one can agree upon what actually happened yesterday; if fake, manipulated or mendacious news websites are backed up by mobs of internet trolls; then conspiracy theories, whether of the far left or far right, will soon have the same weight as reality. Politicians who lie will be backed by a claque of supporters.”

History is on the side of Zuckerberg
These arguments obviously go against the defining creed of the internet religion: that increasing access to information and social connection is an inherently positive force. Zuckerberg included the political impact of Facebook in his pre-IPO letter to shareholders. “We believe building tools to help people share,” he wrote, “can bring a more honest and transparent dialogue around government that could lead to more direct empowerment of people, more accountability for officials and better solutions to some of the biggest problems of our time.” Were those lofty ambitions not just naive but actually dead wrong? Could it be, as Applebaum and Manjoo suggest, that this latest phase of democratizing our communication channels has turned out to be a politically regressive force, increasing the levels of demagoguery and deceit and civic conflict?

History is undeniably on the side of Zuckerberg. Think of all the step changes in human connection over the eons — from scrolls to the printing press to the pamphle-teers to the newspapers. Yes, each transition had its own particular form of tumult, and each undermined its fair share of existing authorities, but with the hindsight of centuries, they are all now considered to be fundamentally on the side of progress: democratizing the flow of information and decision-making in society, and increa-sing the quality of those decisions. No one is hankering to rewind the clock to, say, the media of the 16th-century: post-Gutenberg, but pre-pamphleteers. So it does seem rather convenient that the ladder of progress would extend up exactly to the rung of the last generation’s media, and then come to an abrupt stop. Any the-golden-age-just-happens-to-be-the-one-I-grew-up-with argument deserves special scrutiny, but let’s say that Applebaum and Manjoo are right, and this time it is truly different. Why would history’s long arc take this surprising detour?

It could be that it is not the scale of connection that plagues us, but rather the way those connections are being wired. Perhaps there is something in Facebook or Twitter’s architecture that turns those potentially liberating connections into ones that promote deception and rancor. Perhaps civil society needs a different algorithm to thrive in an over-connected age. It would be helpful, certainly, if the default platform of the social media age were not owned by a private company, where we could experiment more freely with different rules for sharing information and opinions, and where our online identities belonged to us and not to giant multinationals.

But there is another possible explanation here: that what Manjoo and Applebaum are perceiving as runaway extremism is just the sound of an increasingly democratic discourse. There are more voices audible now, more points of view circulating through the infosphere. We’re quick to be outraged when an extremist who doesn’t share our political values finds a platform via social media, but we are less likely to notice that the spectrum has widened on our side as well. Those on the left who worry that Facebook and Twitter have been a breeding ground for climate-deniers and Tea Party fanatics should remember that #occupywallstreet and #blacklivesmatter both began as hashtags on Twitter.

Open government initiatives did end up shaping policy
The same holds true in the Presidential race. Historically, the most striking thing about the campaign so far is not Trump’s ascension, but the fact that a self-proclaimed socialist is running a close race with heir apparent Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders has three times as many Twitter followers as Republican establishment candidate Jeb Bush, despite the hundred million dollars Bush has raised for his campaign. Sanders, much more than Trump, is a pure-bred social media phenomenon. Trump has obviously used Twitter effectively, but his name recognition derives from network television and his real estate empire. And there is ample precedent for the Trump candidacy; in a sense, The Donald is a fusion of the two dark horses from the 1992 campaign: nativist outsider Pat Buchanan and eccentric billionaire Ross Perot. An observer of that 1992 campaign would hardly blink an eye at the premise that a Trump-like figure might play a role in future presidential campaigns. But the idea that a card-carrying socialist might run a close second in the primaries would have seemed preposterous, given the strong centrist tendencies of that era’s Democrats.

Socialists can mount competitive presidential campaigns now because the boundaries of acceptable political positions are widening in an age no longer governed by two parties, three networks, and a handful of national newspapers. At the dinner table of civic debate, everyone now gets to invite their crazy cousin. Sometimes the crazy cousin starts ranting about UFOs or building a wall to keep the Mexicans out, and sometimes he actually brings a useful new idea to the discussion. The fact that fringe perspectives now can attract national consideration shouldn’t worry us in itself. What we need to watch closely is which of those fringe perspectives end up shaping actual policy. In the month leading up to the 2008 inauguration, the incoming Obama administration opened up a Citizen’s Briefing Book on the web, inviting the US population to suggest priorities for the next four years — a small experiment in direct democracy inspired by the Open Government movement that was then on the rise. Ordinary citizens could suggest initiatives and also vote to support other initiatives. In the end, two of the three most popular initiatives urged Obama to radically reform our draconian drug laws and end marijuana prohibition.

At the time, the results provoked titters from the media establishment: this is what happens when you open the gates to the internet crazies; you get a horde of stoners suggesting policy that has zero chance of mainstream support. And yet here we are seven years later, and that briefing book turned out to be the first glimmer of an idea whose time had come. Sentencing laws are being re-written; pot is legal in half a dozen states; and a majority of Americans now support full legalization. Look back over the decade of social media, and ask yourself: what are the defining American political, legislative or juridical actions — not opinions or hot takes or stump speeches — of this era, the ones that will get mentioned in the history textbooks that our grandchildren study.

I would list seven: The election (and re-election) of the first African-American president; the largest expansion of health care coverage in generations; the Supreme Court decision endorsing gay marriage as a constitutional right; drug sentencing reform and the end of marijuana prohibition; the Iran nuclear deal; the normalization of US-Cuban relations; and the Paris climate accord. Yes, you could list a hundred divisive and polarizing ideas that were floated during that period, but the ideas that actually generated enough popular support to be transformed into action were consistently ones that favored tolerance, empathy, and collaboration. Perhaps we are just at the beginning stages of the social media revolution, and in two years President Trump will be building his gold-plated wall along the Mexican border.

But until that time, I think we shouldn’t be too worried by the noise of the new public sphere. There are more dividers with a soapbox thanks to social networks, but so far it is the uniters that are actually getting things done. The price of politics in the social media age is that the crazies get a place on the playing field. The test is whether they win.
© The Guardian


India wants a f24 X 7Œ online war room to tackle cyber threat from ISIS

© Tech Worm

UK: Far-right party Britain First is pretty upset with Twitter users

Far-right group Britain First don’t sound too happy with Twitter users – who it says are a bunch of “trolls and leftists”.

1/1/2016- The group, which rallies against diversity, boasted more than 1.1 million followers – making it the largest political social media page in the UK. Despite a strong social media presence on Facebook – which critics say is partly down to appropriating animal rights memes – the group has struggled to convert its following into a force outside of the platform. The party fielded a candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014, but attracted just 56 votes – below the Monster Raving Loony Party. In its end of year message, the group explained that it has “the popular website and social media reach in the UK” among political parties. However, when it came to explaining its Twitter following – just 6200 people follow the group – Britain First didn’t sound too happy. Twitter, BF explained, is “a nest of trolls and leftists”.

And they’re not the ones being dumped because, guess what Twitter? Britain First is breaking up with you! The group insisted that it is “deliberately ignoring” Twitter, adding: “Twitter does not concern us.” The italics are theirs. Seems pretty concerned if you ask us. In November, Facebook briefly shut down the group’s page under hate speech rules. A notification from Facebook shared by the group says: “Your Page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content posted on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Terms and Community Standards, so your page was unpublished. “While people can use Facebook to challenge ideas, instittuions and practices, Facebook removes hate speech. “Hate speech includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.” However, the decision was reverted within hours after “censorship” complaints.
© The Pink News


2015: The year that angry won the internet

A social networking CEO is subjected to racist attacks on her own website. A cartoonist's life is trashed by trolls. Women get rape and death threats. There's a case to be made that online, 2015 was a year of increased hate.

30/12/2015- Those of us who watch social media for a living - or who are long-time users of sites like Facebook and Twitter - realise that nastiness has always been a part of life online. But over the course of the past year or so, it seemed to some of us at BBC Trending that the steady background beat of online anger gradually turned into a pounding 24-7 drumbeat of angst, impossible to ignore. So we set out to see if levels of hate speech did rise on social media this year.

First, definitions. The idea that abuse and harassment is on the rise seems to be common today among journalists and tech people, but defining the problem is itself problematic. Hate speech laws and norms vary from country to country. And there is - and always has been - profound disagreement on what constitutes online abuse, hate or trolling. Take that last term for starters. The word "troll" used to be rather narrowly defined as a person who posts inflammatory or irritating comments on an internet message board, usually for their own amusement. But over time that definition seems to have broadened to encompass everything from sending death threats to expressing sharp political disagreements. There's a similar debate about what constitutes "hate speech." A recent UN report puzzled over its definition, calling it a "generic term, mixing concrete threats to individuals' and groups' security with cases in which people may be simply venting their anger against authority."

'Astonishing' increase in racial slurs on Twitter
But if you think, like many online free-speech absolutists, that increased harassment and hate is a fiction, a product of loose language and sensitive flowers who revel in hurt feelings, well the statistics just don't bear that out. A recent analysis by the think tank Demos found that on average around 480,000 racial slurs are tweeted every month. Compare that figure to just 10,000 three years ago. The researchers admit that the vast majority of those uses won't amount to hate crimes. But the numbers are still significant. "A 4800 per cent increase is astonishing - far greater than the general increase in tweets over that time," wrote Demos research director Carl Miller. Other experts agree - something has definitely happened over the past year.

"2015 saw a greater normalisation of hate speech in society than in previous years," says Andre Oboler, chief executive of the Australia-based Online Hate Prevention Institute. "Where previously a person might make a vague negative allusion to race, religion, gender or sexuality, by the end of 2015 the comments on social media were blatant and overt." "Where previously people hid behind pages and fake accounts, by the end of 2015 many people felt their hate was acceptable and were comfortable posting it under their real name or their regular social media account," Oboler noted. Oboler flagged up anti-Muslim hate as a particular hot spot - perhaps predictable considering the continued fallout of the Syrian civil war, the refugee crisis and terror attacks. But other groups have also been among the top targets, he says, including women and Jews.

Even if you don't directly experience online hate yourself, there are wider impacts that affect us all, according to Paula Todd, an internet bullying expert and author of the book Extreme Mean. Todd points out that online abuse gives governments and corporations justification for censorship, and somewhat counter-intuitively, can have a chilling effect on free speech. "Publications around the world are closing comment sections because they don't want to spend the money to edit out the haters, racists, sexists and the uniformed and frightened," she says.

Return to normal?
But why, then, does abuse seem to be increasing? If you regularly post sharply political tweets of any sort, it might seem like social media is a terrible miasma of vitriol - particularly if you're the one on the receiving end of some of it. But in part that's because in many places, the social fabric more or less holds in real life. People might shout racial slurs in ALL CAPS online, but we generally don't walk down the street shouting at random strangers - and in fact, if we do, and bystanders capture it on film, it becomes news. But what's happening in our daily lives might be diverging from the world of digital mass conversation. Todd says increased hate online is in part a reflection of the wider culture of public discourse. "Despite extraordinary efforts by community and educational groups to sensitise people to the pain they cause online, the countervailing trend, especially in politics and entertainment, is the use of demeaning and damaging language and communication," she says.

Todd's research has uncovered a "constellation" of motivations for online abuse - "everything from feelings of powerlessness to alcohol and drug abuse and on to mental illness." One argument states that this rising wave of anger is a historical blip - a product of the phenomenal recent explosion of social networks. Once the novelty wears off, this argument goes, norms will be established, annoying and abusive people will get banned or bored, and calm will settle over the internet. The biggest social networks are aware of the problem - and Twitter is particularly worried. Back in February, the company's then-CEO was blunt: "We suck at dealing with hate". More recently, Twitter says new account verification and blocking tools have made the network safer - though it's debateable whether users have yet felt a difference. Twitter, along with Facebook and Google, recently agreed to actively combat hate speech on the behest of the German government.

Many, including the Demos researchers, point out that social media can be a useful tool to combat hate, as well as spread it. Oboler, of the OHPI, puts responsibility for quelling abuse squarely on the management of the big social networking companies. "The social media companies promote the idea that the solution to hate speech is more speech," he says, "This approach evades responsibility with the suggesting that business as usual is the best they can do." Todd agrees and says of the major networks: "Language filters, public action campaigns, internal detection and user technology are all within their reach." Oboler warns that young people will be turned off from social networks if abuse continues to increase. But he also points out that one 2015 arrival might change the game - namely, Mark Zuckerburg's baby daughter. "With the birth of his daughter, Mark Zuckerberg is reinventing himself. He is starting to show a greater concern for the future. This will have a ripple effect through Facebook, which is by far the largest of the social media platforms." But he cautions: "This change will take time and we don't expect to see any dramatic change in 2016."
© BBC News


The Big Business of Online Abuse

For a select few, Internet harassment isn’t just a way to bully others. It’s a way to rake in the bucks.
By Yasmin Green

28/12/2015- It can be a terrifying experience: thousands of individuals, ganging up on a single person to ruin his or her life and, in some extreme cases, drive that person to suicide. But what makes this ugly occurrence even more troubling is that this sort of online mob harassment is sometimes done for profit. For a select few, trolling is a good business. In recent years, online harassment and disinformation campaigns have become industrialized. This year The New York Times published a stunning exposé on Russian troll farms—anonymous office buildings full of professional internet “trolls,” a generic term for the people who flood social media with intentionally provocative messages. A single “farm” supposedly generated revenues of 20 million rubles (roughly $300,000) each month. These trolls-for-hire were reportedly deployed to spread false rumors about an Ebola outbreak in Atlanta, post pro-Kremlin messages on various social media, and to spread disparaging comments about Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Individuals and groups, including those sponsored by the state, use the Internet to spread propaganda and shut down dissent. Occasionally, we catch a glimpse of the commercial, illicit businesses sprouting up to support them.

Non-state actors are also using technology to orchestrate online hate campaigns. For example, the so-called Islamic State used an Arabic-language mobile app called The Dawn of Glad Tidings to coordinate its social media operation. The app worked by allowing users to temporarily surrender control of their account to ISIS, which used the thousands of conscripted accounts to post propaganda on its behalf. Of course, most online harassment isn’t coordinated or paid for—it’s just a bunch of people being cruel. But in the absence of attracting thousands of willing followers, it’s possible (and inexpensive, for as little as $5) to purchase thousands of fake followers to make it seem like one lonely person’s rantings are shared by thousands of like-minded abusers. Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli estimated in 2013 that fake followers on a social media platform could generate anywhere between $40 million and $360 million annually. Since then, despite a crackdown on fake accounts by prominent tech firms, the business for ersatz fans continues to grow.

The rise of “revenge porn,” the nonconsensual release of explicit images or video, often perpetrated by disgruntled former partners, has spawned a new genre for paid internet porn as well as provided raw materials to the lucrative business of blackmail. The now-defunct website Is Anyone Up?, which first brought the issue of revenge porn to international attention in 2010, is claimed to have generated 30 million page views and $10,000 a month in ad revenue. The prevalence of this form of sexual harassment has prompted governments to draft legislation banning the release of pornographic material without the consent of all participants. But given how profitable revenge porn has become, these laws will only have limited success.

While the business of abuse is booming, innovative models for protection—in many cases founded by victims themselves—are proving viable. Crash Override, for example, publishes simple steps to help victims restore their online reputations. GGBlocker is a Chrome extension that filters out websites associated with a particular harassment campaign to deny the publishers ad revenue and traffic, and Block Together is a digital blacklist that reduces the burden of blocking many abusive Twitter accounts. These tools exist without much support, partially because they’re not profitable, but also because any public supporter risks being targeted themselves. Observing the impact of online mob harassment, it appears there are too many would-be harassers and too few sustainable solutions. But this doesn’t have to be true. We must reject the inevitability of a toxic Internet.

Imagine if online platforms had the capacity to effectively moderate comment threads and message boards, so threatening and harassing comments were filtered long before they reach their intended target. Imagine if victims of online harassment had as many legal recourses as victims of physical harassment. There really isn’t a digital equivalent of a restraining order. Imagine the benefits of creating spaces online for thoughtful discourse where people didn't have to fear the consequences of eliciting the wrath of online mobs. But we should use more than our imaginations. We should use our resources, our entrepreneurial spirit, and our collective voices to advocate for tools that make the Internet a place where threatening to rape and murder someone isn’t good business.
Yasmin Green is the head of strategy and research at Google Ideas.
© The Daily Beast


Twitter vows to wage war on internet trolls

Bruce Daisley, head of website in Europe, says it will expose the worst offenders by encouraging people to share lists of blocked users

26/12/2015- Twitter is giving its users new powers to block internet trolls amid claims abusive behaviour is hampering the social media site from catching up with Facebook. Bruce Daisley, the head of Twitter in Europe, said the site would give its 320 millions users new tools to protect them from trolls and expose the worst offenders by encouraging people to share lists of blocked users. Twitter, which celebrates its tenth birthday next year, is worth more than £22 billion but is lagging behind Facebook, which has more than one billion users and a valuation of £167 billion. In February Dick Costolo, Twitter's former chief executive, admitted in an internal email that the company "sucked" at dealing with trolls. But Mr Daisley now says the site has cracked down on nuisance users who hurl extreme abuse at those they disagree with. Measures include contacting suspected trolls to tell them "what you are doing here exists in the real world" and encouraging people to publish lists of users they have blocked.

"We have spent longer and more effort on user safety than any single other thing," Mr Daisley told The Independent newspaper. "The measures we have done have directly correlated to a reduction in the amount of bad behaviour on the platform. The other part of the strategy has involved giving users new tools to block trolls and to expose the worst offenders by encouraging people to share their lists of blocked accounts." Mr Daisley said the measures, introduced over the past year, had led to a massive increase in the number of reports and made people feel a lot safer. The hacking group Anonymous recently claimed to have taken down 20,000 Twitter accounts that were supposedly "pro-Isis". Many of them had merely been written in Arabic. Others on the hit-list belonged to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and media outlets including BBC News. Twitter recently launched its Moments feature in the UK, working with 18 media production partners to present the best Twitter stories of the day.
© The Telegraph


Headlines December 2015

UK: Man jailed for inciting racial hatred ahead of planned neo-Nazi rally

17/12/2015- A MAN who posted anti-Semitic material online ahead of a planned neo-Nazi rally in Golders Green has been jailed. Joshua Bonehill-Paine, 23, of Yeovil, Somerset was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court today (December 17), after he was found guilty yesterday of inciting racial hatred. Police became aware of anti-Semitic material being posted online in the weeks leading up to the rally, planned to take place in early July. Bonehill-Paine was identified as the creator of the material, and was arrested at his home on June 26. He was brought to London, where he was charged the next day. The rally was organised by far-right groups against “Jewish privilege”. A counter-demonstration was planned to take place by a wide range of groups. The demonstration was eventually moved to central London – a move welcomed by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Community Security Trust (CST), along with others.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Barnes, who led the investigation for the Met's Public Order Investigation Branch, said: "Bonehill-Paine posted vile, anti-Semitic material online. "This kind of material is illegal and its publication is damaging to communities. “There are challenges in attributing such material posted online to the originator but our digital forensic examiners worked tirelessly, carrying out extensive analysis of the material, phone data and online activity to prove that Bonehill-Paine posted the material from his laptop.” He added: "The Met fully understands the hurt that is felt in communities affected by this type of crime. It is only by continually working with communities that we can ensure they are safe and free from fear. "As this case demonstrates, there is no place for people inciting racial hatred under the guise of protest, and those that do this will be investigated and brought before the courts to answer for this crime."
© The Times - Series


Germany is putting an end to hate speech on the Internet

The German government makes a deal with Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove hate speech within 24 hours of it being reported. Could this change the Internet as we know it?
by Ian Sherr
15/12/2015- It's said there's always someone doing something bad on the Internet. Now, Germany is doing something about it. The European nation reached an agreement with Facebook, Twitter and Google to remove hate speech from the Internet within 24 hours of it being reported, according to reports from the Associated Press and AFP. Under the agreement, it will be easier for anti-racism groups to flag hate speech on each of the services. The twin reports cited German laws, which ban speech that incites or instigates harmful action. Complaints will be examined by special teams inside the companies that will decide whether the content violates German laws, and not just the terms of use for each site, a German official said. It's unclear exactly how this process will work, who will have final say and if there will be any appeal process. It's also unclear whether posts removed from view in Germany will still be accessible outside the country.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment. Representatives from Facebook, Google and the German government did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The impetus for the agreement was concerns that social networks could "become a funfair for the far right," said German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, according to AFP. The move could be a watershed moment for social networks. Until now, most social networks have attempted to apply a single set of rules, their terms of use, across all users throughout the globe. This has caused some rankling in the past, particularly in countries with repressive or despotic governments that have rules against certain speech or imagery. The agreement with Germany will help reduce hate speech on these sites, but it could also potentially hurt free speech on the Web. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's management team in the past have argued in favor of free speech rights.

"We're trying to connect everyone in the world and give everyone a voice," Zuckerberg said in January after the terror attacks against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. "This is about freedom of expression." Each of the services already have rules against some types of posts, including images depicting certain types of nudity as well as forms of hate speech. If they remove posts, it's usually after a user flags them for review.
© Cnet


USA: Man Charged In Mosque Shooting Posted Hate Messages Online

18/12/2015- A 48-year-old Meriden man accused of firing several shots at a mosque next to his house insisted to the FBI that he has no animus toward Islam, but a federal criminal complaint indicates that in Facebook posts and text messages he said, among other things, "I hate Muslims." Ted A. Hakey Jr., of 380 Main St., was charged by the FBI with intentionally damaging religious property, specifically the Baitul Aman Mosque at 410 Main St. Hakey was ordered detained after a brief hearing before Magistrate Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam in U.S. District Court in New Haven. A detention hearing is scheduled for Monday. Hakey was taken into custody Thursday night following an investigation into the Nov. 14 incident when several shots were fired at the mosque. No one was in the mosque at the time and no one was injured, police said.

After the shooting, leaders in the Muslim community said the shooter would be welcomed into their mosque and forgiven. Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, repeated that message Friday after learning of Hakey's arrest. "We are thankful to God that the person was found, and at the same time we have forgiven him and we feel that he didn't know us," Qureshi said during a prayer service at the mosque Friday. "Now we can move forward and find out what was the reason behind it," said another member of the mosque, Raza Ahmead. "We want people to come here. [Islam] is good news. I want to share it with my family and friends." Hakey's next-door neighbor, Rodrigo Leon, said he heard the shots on Nov. 14 and was surprised to learn that the FBI said they came from his neighbor's yard. "We moved here about three years ago and they helped us out and cut the grass for us a few times because we had just moved in," Leon said of his neighbor. Other neighbors said Hakey was quiet, but that they also did not know him.

The shooting came a day after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris. The mosque quickly reopened and the FBI and Meriden police searched for the shooter. Early on, police said they had a suspect. According to the federal criminal complaint filed in support of Hakey's arrest, ballistic evidence recovered from the mosque indicated a high-powered rifle was used to fire the shots from the area of 380 Main St. One bullet, according to records, passed through the mosque's prayer area. FBI agents checked gun registration records and determined that Hakey owned several rifles that could have caused the damage at the mosque. On Nov. 16, federal agents obtained a search warrant for Hakey's house and seized 24 guns, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, a bulletproof vest and several electronic devices, according to the complaint. Federal agents also said they saw items associated with the Hells Angels motorcycle club, which they noted is considered an outlaw motorcycle gang by the U.S. Department of Justice.

On Nov. 19, Hakey and his lawyer met with the FBI for an interview and, according to the complaint, Hakey said he is a former Marine, has an "avid interest" in guns, has attended sniper competitions and has fired his guns in his yard in the past. He told the FBI, according to the complaint, that on Nov. 13 he left his house about 8 p.m. and went to a bar in Wallingford. He said he had about 10 drinks and stayed at the bar until it closed, then drove home after midnight. "After arriving home, he consumed a portion of another alcoholic drink and obtained a Beretta 9mm hand gun and M14 rifle from his gun safe," the complaint reads. "He proceeded to his side yard. He looked at the mosque to ensure that it was dark inside and that there were no cars parked outside. He discharged approximately 10 rounds from a 9mm handgun while in the yard, aiming at a wood pile in his yard.

"He then proceeded to discharge approximately 10 rounds of ammunition from the M14 rifle, aiming at the dirt and low trees that are in the area between his house and the mosque," the complaint continues. "After waiting a couple of minutes, he discharged approximately five more rounds from the M14 rifle. Afterwards, he went to sleep." The FBI, according to the complaint, determined that the M14 Hakey was referring to was actually a Springfield Armory M1A, a semiautomatic civilian version of the M14 rifle. Hakey told the FBI that he did not intend to hit the mosque and did not think he hit it until he saw police there the next day. "He also claimed he had not learned about the terrorist attacks in Paris until after discharging the rounds from his yard," the criminal complaint reads. "He further claimed not to harbor any animus against Islam or Muslims."

When federal agents searched Hakey's cellphone, other electronic devices and his Facebook account, they found evidence that indicated otherwise, according to the complaint. According to the government, Hakey's Facebook posts about Muslims and Islam include:
• "These [expletive] will strap explosives onto their children. What might work is to desecrate the muslim religion. Burn their local mosque to the ground, defile the land with pig blood. Put up billboards of muhammad getting [expletive] raped by satan."
• "Coexist with Muslims, impossible!!!"
• "Kill all Muslims."
• "I HATE Muslims? But I'm a big fan of the constitution. I do not believe in picking and choosing the parts that suit me."

After the attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January, the government says, Hakey made the following comments on Facebook:
• "When the armed white boys snap. It's not going to be pretty."
• "I have a mosque right next door!!"
• "I observe them with my binos. Way too many military aged males."
• "All Muslims must die!!! I hate them all."
• "Once a tipping point is reached the Muslims are [expletive]. Once we start playing Cowboys and Muslims it's over!!"

On Nov. 14, according to the government, Hakey posted the status on Facebook: "What is gonna be the breaking point to go 'weapons free' against Islam." About six hours later, the government charges, Hakey opened fire on the mosque. During a second interview with the FBI, Hakey said that he did learn about the Paris attacks prior to going to the bar in Wallingford on Nov. 13. During a lie-detector test, Hakey again said he did not intend to shoot the mosque. If he did intend to shoot at the mosque, he said, "he would have then thrown that rifle in the river afterwards," according to the complaint. After the polygraph test, according to the criminal complaint, he said that if he intended to shoot the mosque, he would have used a rifle with a night-vision scope, which he said was in his gun safe next to the rifle he said he fired that night. In announcing the arrest Friday, U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly said that people should be able to worship without fear of violence.

"As Americans, we must not let fear drive us away from our values and toward hateful and divisive acts against others," she said. "The core mission of the Department of Justice involves the safety of every person and their protection against racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and intimidation. We stand ready to prosecute individuals when rhetoric crosses the line to threats of violence or — as charged here — actual violence." FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick said Meriden and state police, the FBI and ATF agents worked day and night on the investigation. "This arrest should serve as a clear message that crimes of hate against individuals of any race, creed, gender or religious background will not be tolerated," she said.
© The Hartford Courant


USA: Cyber Expert Skeptical of Google Chairman's Call for 'Spell-Checker' on Hate

Eric Schmidt has called for the development of technology that can detect hate speech across the Internet, resulting in interception before it spreads.

12/12/2015- In a piece for the New York Times, , Schmidt wrote of the “great potential” of the Internet and its ability to create “safe spaces for communities to connect, communicate, organize and mobilize,” giving many the opportunity to find “their place and their voice.” The Google chairman went on to warn against serious challenges and risks to public safety. To combat the opportunity it provides for people who “seek to do harm,” he urges that companies do more to develop ways of identifying dangerous language that could spark hatred and extremist violence. “We should build tools to help de-escalate tensions on social media­sort of like spell-checkers, but for hate and harassment,” Schmidt said. “We should target social accounts for terrorist groups like the Islamic State, and remove videos before they spread, or help those countering terrorist messages to find their voice.”

Schmidt believes that without these tools, “the Internet could become a vehicle for further disaggregation of poorly built societies, and the empowerment of the wrong people, and the wrong voices.” Governments and tech companies have differed strongly in the past over the monitoring of private communications especially via social media. The BBC reported in November that intelligence services were unhappy with the level of access they had to communications sent over apps like WhatsApp that encrypt messages by default. Cyber security experts often find themselves torn between opposing sides.

Alan Woodward, a professor at the Surrey Centre for Cyber Security, tells Newsweek via email that although he understands and has sympathy with Schmidt’s intentions, he has concerns as to those who gain the authority to define hate speech. “There is a danger of assuming that what those in liberal western democracies find offensive is considered the same elsewhere,” he says. “More importantly, what we believe should be ‘free speech’ can be considered ‘hate speech’ by other cultures.” Woodward proposes the enabling of government agencies to monitor content. “If it is considered harmful (likely to radicalize or obscene or similar) then they can block that within their jurisdiction.” But he stresses that giving technology companies the authority to label speech potentially means “forcing the culture of the homeland of that technology company on a global user-base.”
© Newsweek


Netherlands: Medical websites full of secret trackers, patient information collected and sold

9/12/2015- Protection concept: computer keyboard with Closed PadlockMedical websites, including those run by some hospitals and doctors, are passing on information about visitors’ online behaviour to commercial companies, according to research by current affairs show Zembla. Sites such as, where people can take a test about depression, are among those collecting sensitive information, Zembla said. The Addthis and Sharethis social media buttons also include tracker codes. The websites contain tracking codes which can allow third parties to deduce what diseases people have and when they have hospital appointments, the programme said. Some sites had up to 16 trackers. The programme’s researchers also discovered that information about visitors to health websites is up for sale in the US, allowing advertisers to target potential clients directly. For example, a company named Exact Data is offering the contact details of 2,856 people who use natural medicines and over 23,000 people who have been on a diet.

Third parties
Because many medical companies contract third parties to build their websites, they are not aware what information is being collected and sold, the programme said. 
The TweeSteden hospital in Tilburg, for example, had 16 trackers, including Addthis. The tracker can follow who visits which clinic to make an appointment – information which is commercially useful. Confidentiality ‘Everyone who works in healthcare knows you have a confidentiality agreement,’ said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch privacy watchdog. ‘They should have been aware of this sort of situation.’ This scandal shows the importance of privacy issues in healthcare information,’ said former surgeon Hans Flu, founder of healthcare professional platform, which is independent and has no commercial links. ‘Hospitals, medical societies and doctors should never get mixed up with deals which could compromise patient details for profit.’ ‘The main goal should be providing evidence-based quality of care, and not damaging the confidence of the patients in the healthcare system,’ he said.
© The Dutch News


UK: Cyber Bullying Central: YikYak takes over local universities

10/12/2015- A new anonymous app takes over local universities, leading to students and teachers being targeted by cyber bullies. YikYak, the anonymous sharing app, has become the latest craze with the younger generation, especially within educational settings. The app is, for the most part, light hearted and full of students sharing their university experiences, but the anonymity has caused bullying and hate to surface. Local Dorset education psychologist, Simon Burnham, states: “One of the defining characteristics of bullying is the abuse of power. The app had to create away to block usage in certain areas via georeferences, as bullying cases in secondary schools and colleges became far too frequent.

The answers received for a survey taken by Bournemouth University students, found here, shows that everyone we asked did use the app, and that almost half of them have either personally experienced or witnessed bullying through YikYak. Mr Burnham, with 19 years of experience, also said: “What is particularly unpleasant about cyber bullying from the victim’s point of view is that it is so pervasive. “As people increasingly access social media at all hours then bullying can become a 24/7 phenomenon from which victims have little or no respite.”

The problem recently came to the attention of some of the staff at Bournemouth University, learning that students were using it to mock other students and their lecturers whilst teaching was in progress; as it is difficult to control the use of such apps, there is no knowing if the success of YikYak will slow down and whether or not bullying on this platform will fade. We asked YikYak to comment on the matter, but are yet to hear back from them. Find out more on YikYak: Frequently Asked Questions and Hampshire college bans YikYak, should Bournemouth do this too?
© Buzz Bournemouth


German anti-neo-Nazis publicise e-mailed death threats

30/11/2015- Five German anti-neo-Nazi campaigners on Sunday made public e-mailed threats they received in the form of individualised fake death notices. Four of the five campaigners said in a joint statement to the press that the fake notices left nothing to the imagination about their real meaning, adding that they have asked police to investigate. At the weekend, police in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg could only confirm one of the death notices. "Police are already investigating the offences of threat and defamation," a spokesperson said on Sunday. The people that received the threats on Friday were a journalist from the Bavarian broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk, a union official, an employee of the Nuremberg Social Democratic Party and a female social scientist. All of them stressed that they had not felt intimidated by the neo-Nazi action. On Sunday, a Nuremberg city councillor belonging to the hard left Die Linke party published a similar death threat that he received. Bayerischer Rundfunk said it was the first time that this kind of threat had come to light in Bavaria. It has previously occurred in other federal states, with a similar threat campaign carried out by neo-Nazis in the western German city of Dortmund in February.


UK: Facebook reverses ban on Britain First under ‘hate speech’ rules

Despite originally banning the group under hate speech rules, Facebook has reversed a ban on ‘Britian First’.

30/11/2015- Facebook earlier today shut down the page of far-right political group Britain First under rules banning hate speech. The group, which rallies against diversity, boasted more than 1.1 million followers – making it the largest political social media page in the UK. However, Facebook took action to close the group’s page, which has been accused of spreading “hatred” and fabricated stories. A notification from Facebook shared by the group says: “Your Page is currently not visible on Facebook. It looks like content posted on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Terms and Community Standards, so your page was unpublished. “While people can use Facebook to challenge ideas, instittuions and practices, Facebook removes hate speech. “Hate speech includes content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases.”

Britain First leader Paul Golding said: “Facebook has launched a fascist attack on a registered, legal British political party on the verge of a major election campaign.” The group said: “Facebook has taken the unbelievable step of closing down the enormous Britain First Facebook fan page. “Recently, our fan page exceeded 1.1 million ‘Likes’, twice as big as the Conservative party page. Last week, over 150 million people worldwide looked at our page and posts. “Facebook resisted attempts by political opponents hostile to Britain First to get our page closed down, but now it seems they have ‘unpublished’ it. “This means that our 1.1 million supporters have been denied freedom of speech and expression.” However, the decision seems to have now been reversed. The group added: “Our 1.1 million supporters have their homepage back! Our leftwing opponents went into temporary celebration when our page was closed down but now they are furious! “God bless all of our supporters!”

Despite a strong social media presence on Facebook, the group has struggled to convert its following into a real-word force. The party fielded a candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election in 2014, but attracted just 56 votes – below the Monster Raving Loony Party. Facebook reaffirmed its ban on homophobic and transphobic hate speech under new set of community guidelines earlier this year.
© Pink News


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.


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.