HarassMap

The work HarrasMap is doing to reverse the widespread of sexual harassment and the passivity of those who witness it. Societal issues like this need collective support and resolution that nowadays always comes via social media campaigns backed by organizations like this one. Moreover, this campaign clearly states it is more than just a way to allow victims to share their experiences and avoid certain areas but to highlight these areas for citizens and law enforcement to administer social and legal consequences if you choose to harass someone. These campaigns can influence so much through technologies. The reading stated that 80 percent of the world’s mobile devices could be found in developing countries. People are constantly on their phone looking for new information and apps.

While these campaigns give us the tools to try and address these issues it ultimately comes down to the thousands of users that contribute and maintain it. It’ll always be an issue of accuracy with these open-source, anonymous contributions because it is too difficult to verify everything that gets reported. These tools although helpful must be taken with a grain of salt. However, while the probability of these tools having more skewed data is higher, the issue is still probably widespread enough that something needs to be done about it. The fact that there are people undermining this does not mean it should not be validated. If anything, if people are so willing to skew data with false reports it just means we need to do more about this issue.

I do think technology will keep improving and help find solutions as time goes on. It also seems like many new technologies are focused on trying to help those in need more than ever. Like that is what is on the forefront of many platforms, features that will help expose injustices and doing so anonymously through the internet.

Planned Parenthood

I’ve known about planned parenthood for years now but I never took the time to actually know what it’s about. This was the first time going on their website and seeing all the ways they help and spread awareness. For instance, they had pages on things like how to better your relationship and a page on body image. Planned Parenthood understands the focus can’t solely be on abortions.They’re trying to avoid abortions through awareness and protection. They understand having an abortion can be so emotionally stressful and if they could help someone avoid that through understanding how to have safe sex then their job has been accomplished. And even then, there are things like the morning after pill for times where there was an error which is totally understandable which is why the Oklahoma representative bothered me so much. A slip up does not mean someone is irresponsible, it was an accident that someone is trying to correct it the most responsible way they know.

And just the fact that he calls them hosts is crazy. Other posts have mentioned it already but it’s just ridiculous how he can talk like this as if he knows. If a woman had to go through a man in order to decide on something truly life changing then that means something has gone wrong. It should ultimately be up to the woman in this issue. Both partners had a slip-up and the male partner should have some sort of say or at least just voice his concern.

The Significance of Blogging

Digital activism is allowing 22 countries to develop solidarity against oppression. The thousands of bloggers in the MENA seem to understand what is needed from them in these times. They understand that they are not journalists and that is a positive thing. They don’t care about the fame a journalist might care about or have to go through the same obstacles to release their information. What impresses me time and again is that all these digital activists/bloggers are speaking just speaking their mind and reporting their account of the truth and letting the citizens decided everything after that. The bloggers need to be able to get around the issues a journalist can’t in order to fight against the current censorship laws their countries already have in practice.

The platforms the bloggers are given to write what they need to write is just as important. Without certain people creating a website and maintaining it, thousands of people’s voices would be silenced in an already quiet regime of censorship. Someone like Bassel Khartabil who wrote code to make Firefox work in Arabic. Human rights activists are always looking for ways to help open back up countries where free speech is limited and we’ve seen that the internet is our only solution for this.

This brings me back to the consumers of this information. We have people like Bassel starting platforms for free speech and then we have the thousands of bloggers noting the events and experiences felt. This leaves the rest of us to analyze the information make form our opinions and do something about it. There are so many ways to contribute, even just online.

Protests or Riots?

The word  “opportunist” should be thrown around more during times of protests. I think it is impossible to have a completely peaceful demonstration without a small group of people using whatever issue is being aired out in the streets as an opportunity to just wreak havoc, cause damage, and or steal and loot. It happens all the time. The Youstink movement warned that infiltrators would try and use this as an opportunity to not only break the law but discredit the movement. That is what has just recently happened at UC Berkeley. It happens whenever there is a protest and it seems to always turn the hate onto the protestors as if they are responsible for inciting it. Nonviolence just does not sell. You can bet news networks are praying for riots and looting because people want to see it and people want to talk about it. This way, they can avoid talking about the actual issues and use this until another “riot” to talk about like it’s some TV show. I don’t think we’ll ever see another big/important riot without some bad apples breaking off looking for an excuse to loot. How can the group organizers stop this before? They can’t and should not have to. Perhaps alert the majority of the peaceful protestors to move away from wherever these issues come up. Just distance themselves so that the looters can be isolated a bit. People just have it in their minds that all protests turn into LA Riot sort of situations when in fact its the opposite.

I don’t want to sound inflammatory myself but I would not be surprised if some of the tactics I’ve seen in the article like water cannons, tear gas, etc might be more prevalent as Trump is in office. The 13th film had a part where he talks about the “good ole’ days” where things like that were more common. And I bet he wishes he could immediately take it there.

Understanding Black Lives Matter

I always wondered who was “in charge” of the Black Lives Matter movement. I guess not one single person is. Before reading the article I assumed one would need a face for a movement but Black Lives Matter showed otherwise. Like the article wrote, it “eschews hierarchy and centralized leadership”. Today’s leaders say that the focus on a primary leader like in the 1960s would not work today. But I’m not so sure. I understand that in today’s strategy, having no primary face for the movement shows that they are all equal and in it for change more so than fame. But at the same time, I feel like sometimes it would be helpful to have someone to turn to. The news has covered a few high profile incidents where police shoot and kill black men and every time the tensions flare up and emotions run and we get protests and sometimes riot. But I think there is a difference between a martyr and a leader. A martyr only has a few weeks in the spotlight but a leader can string together these incidents into a continuous and committed movement. The author wrote how perhaps this movement would be more successful if they could move beyond reacting to outrages and begin proactively shaping public policy. It seems like the face of the organization could do both for Black Lives Matter.

I think a leader could take heat for a movement like Black Lives Matter. Whenever one chapter does something controversial or what many think to be controversial, they are lumped together. Like when they protested Bernie Sanders, that seemed to cause a lot of anger in young voters, many of whom supported Bernie and Black Lives Matter. Except now, they resented BLM for creating potential harm to Bernie’s campaign. The next few days the internet plastered a picture of Senator Sanders being arrested during his time as a civil rights activist. It’s understandable what they were doing but they seemed to pick the worst time do it when Trump was on the opposite platform picking up momentum.

Growing Numbers Lead to Less Fear

In her article, Linda Herrera talked to and quoted Mona, the chatroom enthusiast about the fear of her post leading to government consequences. Mona told her “What are they going to do, arrest millions of us?” Safe to say she wasn’t scared about her outspoken online presence. But should she be? Looking at articles on MadaMasr, the fear of being scooped up by the police still seems like a big deal. The article about 8 civilians sentenced to death through military trial also mentioned that within that institution 7,420 civilians have been processed through military trials and as many as 327 were linked into one mass trial. That is frightening. But many are willing to still take the risk seeing as the numbers really are huge with millions of Egyptians now on Facebook connecting with the rest of the country and the world.

The early part of the article mentioned video games, chat rooms, and blogs which reminded me of the discussion in class about the use of Reddit. Anonymity was a great way for Mona, Murad, and countless others to interact with the global internet community. But Facebook allowed them to be public while still hiding behind barriers such as not adding strangers and discussing issues with their friends and community member turning this new generation into a conscious one very active in political and cultural change.

The MENA youth especially in places like Egypt with their high unemployment rate probably led to many looking to fill their time with something stimulating and something to that allowed them to pour out their thoughts and frustrations. Having them all together online perhaps led them to understand their issues came from their government. So naturally, they formed solidarity against the government while at the same time learning about the rest of the world in hope of influencing their own country to move in that direction a bit; the achieved “actuality” through their interactions with each other and the media. If anything, the “short” attention span online probably helped their cause. By moving from different influences like movies and movements to different social media networks like blogs to Facebook, their ideas and consciousness just kept developing and growing leading to faster and a more serious demand for change.

Digital Activism

The first day of class we were asked why we enrolled into Digital Activism. I said I wanted to learn more about this subject and how its fits into the Middle East. Last week I could have just given a generic and vague answer like, “well, its activism through the digital environment to help bring about some social justice”. While that can be seen as right, I haven’t really learned why it is right. Why are heading towards digital activism? Who’s responsible for this strategy around Egypt or Turkey and other countries and in what specific ways are they trying to change politics and society? I’m sure I’ve missed some other important questions but what I am trying to say is that after reading these two weekly articles, I could at least explain these issues in laymen’s terms and even toss in some impressive definitions I didn’t know before like “sousveillance”.

Digital activism through social media networks like Twitter and Facebook are so important because they are convienent and cheap. Most importantly, however, you are able to connect with thousands of people who you can “trust”. Your account is usually filled with just friends who more often than not share the same opinions as you do. This then expands to their friends who you might not know personally but by seeing similar online groups you are both a part of connections are formed and groups get bigger and bigger. The growing numbers in Facebook scares these authoritative governments tracking them hoping to stay one step ahead. Except that almost impossible for governments to do with social media. In just a few seconds, plans could change dramatically leaving the government out of the loop.

If everyone has done the reading I really do not have to tell you all the ways social media has worked or how it began. What interests me now is how much it can change society. Maybe you tweet a criticism at a politician and you put your phone back in your pocket. But maybe it just keeps getting likes and retweets and others keep adding to the criticism. Maybe now your tweet has led to hundred or even thousand more on why exactly this politician is so corrupt and now people are demanding for his resignation and protests will soon follow. Maybe it isn’t so cut and dry like that but the point is with any device connected to wifi which you can find cheaply like Khaled Said, you can start a movement and that might bring some actual and serious change. All with a smartphone and a Twitter account. You might not see some change to policy but you might see some of these nondemocratic governments react accordingly and have them walking on egg shells hoping not to start a revolution.