Technology, human rights & movement building around the world


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By: Christopher Tuckwood, The Sentinel Project

Presented at Toronto Net Tuesday, June 4 2013.
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  • First of all, understand what technology really does for human rights activists

    This is really all about information, how we get it, how we move it, and what we do with it

    Even communication is just the act of transmitting information from one person or place to another (or more likely others)

    Consider the ways that information can flow between entities, whether these are individuals, organizations, leaders, populations, governments, the media, or any other possible actor

    Regardless of the technology used – whether the printing press or Twitter – this movement of information has always been essential to human rights defenders, with tools ideally making that transmission more efficient and secure
  • First of all, understand what technology really does for human rights activists

    This is really all about information, how we get it, how we move it, and what we do with it

    Even communication is just the act of transmitting information from one person or place to another (or more likely others)

    Consider the ways that information can flow between entities, whether these are individuals, organizations, leaders, populations, governments, the media, or any other possible actor

    Regardless of the technology used – whether the printing press or Twitter – this movement of information has always been essential to human rights defenders, with tools ideally making that transmission more efficient and secure
  • First of all, understand what technology really does for human rights activists

    This is really all about information, how we get it, how we move it, and what we do with it

    Even communication is just the act of transmitting information from one person or place to another (or more likely others)

    Consider the ways that information can flow between entities, whether these are individuals, organizations, leaders, populations, governments, the media, or any other possible actor

    Regardless of the technology used – whether the printing press or Twitter – this movement of information has always been essential to human rights defenders, with tools ideally making that transmission more efficient and secure
  • There tends to be a perception that activists and human rights defenders using technology is something new

    Also that technology is a “silver bullet” solving all problems for activists

    These points are not entirely true since…

    1 – Activists have always used available tools to further their cause

    2 – Technology creates both opportunities and risks for activists

    3 – Technological tools tend to simply facilitate and augment activities that would be (and continue to be) carried out by other means

  • The printing press is one of the oldest forms of liberation technology, and remains a popular means of disseminating intelligence and coordinating resistance when other forms of communication are inaccessible

    This has remained true in the modern era, as seen by the emphasis placed on the role of photocopiers and fax machines within the Soviet Union and even more recent protests in the Arab world – it’s all about getting out a message, when on paper or electronically

    What the printed word can achieve over large distances, radio can also accomplish at greater speed… As we’ll shortly, radio remains a prevalent social media technology in parts of the world which don’t have easy access to other means
  • Indian nationalists who managed to keep their jobs within the British bureaucracy smuggled out carbon copies of important documents

    The most notable example of the underground communication following the crackdown was Congress Radio, the official broadcaster of the Indian National Congress, which went online in August 1942 and operated for three months

    Congress Radio’s main goal was to provide the Indian people with uncensored news in order to stay informed about the independence struggle and crimes by the authorities trying to suppress it

    This was intended to serve the higher-level objective of maintaining a sort of “leaderless movement”
  • The machine on the bottom right is called a cyklostyl, which was a form of simple printing press used for clandestine publication of banned literature

    Samizdat was also produced simply using typewriters and carbon paper

    The value and impact of samizdat is open to debate but while some observers may exaggerate its importance (publications alone do not overthrow governments), it should not be neglected either since sharing information is essential for mobilizing and organizing other types of action
  • The answer is in the middle

    As always, it depends

    What is it being used for?

    How is it being used?

    Who is using it?

    What is their goal?
  • The Malcolm Gladwell / Clay Shirky dispute is a good example of exactly this polarization between pro-technology activism and social media skepticism

    Gladwell has a good brief article on this in The New Yorker called “The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted,” which is in your recommended resources list and a great introduction to some of the more dissenting or skeptical views on social media

    As you look at the quotes by these two people who are so often cited on this topic, consider that while they both make good points and are technically correct, they are also talking about fundamentally different types of action and uses for technology

    In all of the examples that Shirky mentions, the people using the technologies in question were mobilized within the countries where change was sought. The protestors brought out into the streets of the Philippines, South Korea, or Moldova by tweets and Facebook posts were almost certainly Filipinos, South Koreans, and Moldovans. They were people living in a society who wanted change and used technology to organize themselves to change the system from the inside out.

    In Gladwell’s example of the Save Darfur Facebook page, we’re looking at something more akin to slacktivism, where people “liked” a Facebook page as a sort of feel-good demonstration of solidarity. I’m willing to bet that almost none of the members of that page were people who lived in – or anywhere near – Darfur. Thus, it had very minimal value in terms of effecting change on the ground on the other side of the world, whether by donating money or other means.
  • If you read anything about social media in the human rights community, it’s guaranteed you’ll come across these and other arguments – as well as the pejorative term “slacktivism”

    There’s a lot of skepticism about the efficacy of technology – and while some of it is justified, and there’s a good argument to be had about what works and what doesn’t, much of the criticism is ill-informed or uses “straw man” arguments

    In fact, there’s data to suggest that online activism is closely tied to real-world activism – and that those who engage with an issue electronically are twice as likely to engage offline
  • 1 – Quite simply, if your target audience uses one platform and you launch a campaign using another, you’re not going to reach them. For example, if you decide to use Facebook because you’re familiar with it but you’re targeting people in a country where a locally-built social network is more popular, you’re limiting yourself and asking for failure.
  • 2 – Using technology for human rights or any other humanitarian initiative ultimately is less about the technology itself than it is about what people will be doing with it. The 10/90 Rule essentially states that any campaign is 10% about the technology and 90% about the people, planning, strategy, and communication surrounding that technology. It’s essential that you have a plan and make sure that people know what a given technology can do, what it can’t do, how to use it, and, of course, just that it even exists in the first place. Tools without users don’t improve anything.
  • 3 – No tool comes without risks and sometimes the dangers of using a given tool outweigh the opportunities and benefits that it creates. This is especially true anytime that a user’s private data is involved. For example, a given tool used for circumventing censorship might contain flaws that actually enable repressive regimes to identify users, thus endangering the people it is meant to protect.
  • 4 – Ensure that people are always at the centre of your campaign. Ultimately, it’s people who we’re trying to help here and the technology is a means to do that. This principle really encapsulates a lot of the others in this list. People are the ones who help other people to build a movement or respond to a crisis. Make sure that your technology enables and empowers people rather than trying to replace them.
  • 5 – Continuing the theme, ensure that your campaign is actually changing something. It doesn’t have to solve every problem in the world but it should be trying to solve at least one of them and it should be doing that in a smart, logical way. As we said earlier, technology is all about gathering and moving information around, but we don’t gather and move information just for the sake of doing that. Online activism has to support people taking real actions in the real world. For example, think of a map. That’s a basic technology for capturing and presenting information about the world. We don’t create maps just for the sake of creating maps though – they’re intended to aid people trying to accomplish things in that world.
  • 6 – Similarly, you will always face unseen and sometimes unknown threats so do your best to mitigate them. This really depends on the situation you’re operating in and some will be more dangerous than others. Organizing a protest in Belarus using blogs is very different from surveying workers in Brazil using SMS. Some governments have no restraints when it comes to online surveillance and causing real-world suffering for people’s online actions. Users need to be protected, data needs to be protected and backed up, and whatever system you’re using needs to be strengthened against attack.
  • According to the World Bank, Africa now leads the world with 650 million mobile phones, which is a bigger mobile marketplace than either the US or the EU

    India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria are five of the world's top ten mobile markets. Bangladesh and Mexico are within the top twenty.

    This has great significance for not only human rights but also disaster response, development, healthcare, governance, and the economy.

    Less-developed countries are hotbeds of innovation as they have to “do less with more” and get creative with simple tools like basic mobile phones

    As we take a quick break in this lesson, I want to highlight just how significant that technology is becoming all around the world. Even traditionally less-developed countries are becoming hotbeds of innovation as technology becomes more accessible, education increases in quality, and people find creative ways to overcome disadvantages in their society.

    Even though most of this innovation is happening in the economic realm it’s not all business since it creates and refines new tools that can be used for humanitarian purposes as well.

    Interestingly, the same thing is happening in the Western world – in areas where government has proven ineffective or cost-prohibitive (e.g. low-orbit space travel), private industry is taking over.
  • Although smartphones have yet to achieve significant traction in the developing world, cellular networks already exist in many remote communities because they are easier to set up than the heavy infrastructure needed for traditional landline phones

    That’s why the Nokia 1100 pictured here has sold 250,000,000 units… It’s not a great phone – it’s got a small keyboard, a monochrome display, an annoying ringtone, a clunky outdated interface… but it’s rugged, it’s easy to carry, it’s dust-proof and it’s water-resistant

    In the developed world, we use both SMS (“short message service,” i.e. text) and MMS (“multimedia message service”, e.g. pictures and videos) – in the developing world, many phones might be capable of MMS but low bandwidth plans often make these sorts of messages impractical for wide distribution

  • The political situation in Kenya is quite precarious with unprecedented violence following the disputed 2007 presidential election causing the deaths of 1,200 people and the displacement of more than 500,000 others. In response, the international community encouraged negotiations racilitated by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan, which led to the establishment of a coalition government. This deal, which created the role of prime minister in addition to the president, was dubbed the National Accord.

    The current president is Mwai Kibaki and the prime minister is the leader of the opposition, Ralia Odinga. Both leaders originate from different ethnic groups, which contributed to much of the 2007 violence. Kibaki is a Kikuyu, the largest ethnic group in Kenya, while Odinga is the head of Luo, a group which makes up 13% of the population.

    Similarly to other African countries, political instability and violent demonstrations in Kenya are exacerbated by ethnic tensions, with disagreements over political representation and equitable land distribution at the centre of most conflicts. According to a major study conducted by the Minority Rights Group, social exclusion was established during the colonial era by the British divide-and-rule policy, which included forced settlement.

    Under British rule, profitable land was claimed by the foreign colonizers who displaced native Kenyans and set the stage for land reform disputes following independence from British rule. Minority groups in Kenya currently experience chronic poverty and many reside in areas with poor sanitation, limited access to clean water, and limited educational opportunities.

    Similar to the DRC, the Kenyan constitution guarantees the freedom of speech. Other democratic improvements include a recent bill to establish a senate as means to regulate the presidency and the parliament. The constitution also includes a Citizen’s Bill of Rights which protects the populace from the government.
  • One of the most exciting areas in which SMS has really given people a voice is with the relatively new field of crisis mapping, which takes crowdsourced data from a given area and puts it in geographical context

    The most famous tool for doing this is Ushahidi, a crisismapping tool that we’ll discuss in more detail later in the course

    Ushahidi has found uses all around the world, with one of the most recent being HarassMap, which is a means for people in Cairo to anonymously report incidents of sexual harassment. In HarassMap’s own words:

    “It is a tool for victims and witnesses all over Egypt to anonymously share their experiences of harassment, and to report it. The map collects all reports, and each report appears on the map as a red dot. When you click on it, the full text of the report is displayed… We also use the map to break stereotypes about where, when, and to whom harassment happens. Our community action volunteers always bring a copy of the map with them out into their neighborhoods: the map and the eye witness stories documented on it help them show that harassment does in fact happen on their very streets. People are often shocked and angered when they realize how common harassment really is, that it happens on their streets and to all kinds of people, and that it involves everything from ogling to groping and more.”

    Note how the description of their work specifically mentions that HarassMap volunteers use the map during their field work directly with the populations where harassment takes place. That ties back to the principles of linking technology to real-world action. This map does not just exist for the sake of recording data. People are supposed to use it to actually do something. Similarly, this also links to the principle of taking a people-centred approach.

    Take some time to go explore HarassMap and think about it more in the context of the 12 principles. Which ones does it apply? Which ones are missing? This will come up during our weekly discussion.
  • Ahmadinejad stood for re-election in 2009 with several reformists opposing him including the frontrunner, former prime minister Mir Hussein Moussavi, whose support base was largely concentrated within the capital, Tehran

    The election took place on June 12 with reformist supporters anticipating a victory
  • As the protests grew, so too did the level of violence as the police and the Basij paramilitary forces began to crack down on protestors with often lethal force, resulting in death toll estimates ranging from 30-150 people killed, with Amnesty International estimating 80 people killed (

  • Some cases of “slacktivism” (such as people outside of the affected country changing profile pictures to green ribbons, or joining certain social network pages in order to demonstrate some supposed solidarity with the oppressed), which is not the focus of this course

    Dual use: an organizing tool and a reporting tool

    Twitter initially received a lot of positive attention and enthusiasm from the traditional media, which started to publicize (perhaps to overstate) the impact of Twitter while starting to use the term “Twitter Revolution,” which had actually been coined earlier that year in reference to protests in Moldova (,

    Many people worldwide changed their locations to Tehran in an effort to confuse Iranian authorities tracking down dissidents

    This has obscured the truth about how many Iranians were actually Twitter users, which therefore makes it difficult to come up with a completely accurate picture of the part that the social network played

    Nonetheless, thanks to the media attention paid to social media, Western observers perceived the role of Twitter in Iran (whether justified or not) to be very important, even to the point where the US government interceded with the company to reschedule server maintenance so that the service could be kept active for the benefit of Iranians (

    One observer coined the term “civic technology” to describe technology that is not only created for civic purposes but which is also more effective when it is popular and adopted by large numbers of people (

    This certainly applies to social networks like Twitter, which are only effective if large numbers of people use them, or blogs, which need to be read and shared in order to have impact (just like a paper publication, if no one reads it then there is no impact)

    Some (e.g. Morozov, 2009) argue that the protests were too large and seemingly well organized to be spontaneous “flash mob” type events

    Twitter users are actually a very small portion of the Iranian population and the story presented in the West may exaggerate the role the website played (verify exact usage numbers if possible)

    One source indicates that in June 2009 there may have been as few as 8,600 Twitter users in Iran and that this number would have shrunk even further once the government began blocking the site
  • Acted as a link from the opposition to the outside world allowing for “street-level citizen journalism”

    For example, one tweet encouraged people to spread the opposition’s message using appeals to popular reporting: “We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Moussavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster. #IranElection.” (

    Allowed information to continue flowing outside of the country when foreign (especially Western) media were banned from reporting in Iran during the protests

    Accounts are unverified and not necessarily personalized so activists can conceal their identities more effectively

    What did work is that although the value of Twitter as an actual protest organizing tool is questionable, it was undeniably effective for getting the story to the outside world

    This effectiveness may, however, have been just as much a result of the Western media’s fixation on Twitter’s supposed role than its actual intrinsic value as a communication tool within the movement (see BusinessWeek article)

    This is also shown by the large number of retweets that made up the overall volume of messages about the Iran protests (1-in-3 vs. normal average of 1-in-20 and 1-in-5 for other major events)
  • Completely public forum which also clearly broadcast opposition activities to the regime, which could then use them to identify and locate activists

    Massive information flow which could have overwhelmed observers and led to the “shouting chamber” effect often seen on Twitter where everyone is talking and no one is listening

    Much of the initial value of Twitter as a source of information was eventually lost due to the deluge of people around the world expressing support for the protestors and therefore overwhelming legitimate reports from Iran (

  • Sharing information outside of Iran required the ability to capture that information in the first place and then communicate it easily

    Cell phone cameras had already been available to consumers for several years by this point and had once before played a role in a prominent mass event with the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004. However, this was the first time that they had been used to document major human rights abuses.

    The cost of owning a cell phone had dropped dramatically prior to the protests, going from $1,000 for a SIM card in 2004 to only $5 today (2009 prices therefore being somewhere in the middle) and most major models of cell phones are available (
  • According to the internet marketing research firm Internet World Stats, more than 21 percent of the Egyptian population (of 80 million) had access to the internet and more than 4.5 million used Facebook in February 2011. More than 70 percent had a mobile phone subscription.
  • Many bloggers and activists have been arrested since the beginning of the Arab uprisings.

    Notable examples from Syria are Rima Dali, Safana Bagleh, Ali Mahmoud Othman, and Razan Ghazzawi.

    In Egypt, Maikel Nabil Sanad, Alaa Abd El Fattah, and Amr Gharbeya were just a few of those arrested.

    Many more were either detained or arrested in countries such as Tunisia, Bahrain and Egypt.

    While some were later released, they did not have the ability to tell their friends, family, lawyers what was happening at the time of their actual arrest.

    “Etmasakt” is one of several applications that have been developed to alert a specified contact list when a person is arrested.

    “Etmasakt” is an Arabic word that means “I’ve been arrested.” It sends an SMS to multiple recipients along with the exact location of the user – retrieved using the phone’s GPS – with a single click.

    Other similar applications include “Byt2ebed 3alia” and “I’m Getting Arrested” - the latter being older and having a larger user base.

    The existence of these apps all basically doing the same thing demonstrates a clear demand for them.
  • Satellite imagery is probably the most audacious new area opening up to activists though it still requires large amounts of money so except for a few high-profile NGOs it is still mostly inaccessible to activists

    Once the exclusive preserve of states, which use it to achieve their own goals by gathering intelligence on national adversaries

    Commercial services are now available which can provide increasingly detailed imagery, though these services are still very expensive unless discounted or donated to humanitarian organizations

    Not equivalent to military grade but still very high quality and sufficient for human rights purposes, especially when compared to alternatives
  • Provide more locally-controlled and faster-response imagery than satellites, which makes them ideal for putting directly into the hands of activists on the ground for “tactical-level” use in early warning, documentation, and possibly even deterrence

    Far more affordable than satellite imagery, with the potential to build very capable units for only hundreds of dollars

    Assets available are not at military level of capability but still offer a huge advantage and their capabilities are more than sufficient for use by activists

    Relatively cheap and easy to build so therefore essentially disposable

    Large hobbyist community worldwide with many off-the-shelf products offered to consumers as well so technology is already available but needs to be adapted

    Need to make it more accessible and appropriate for use in human rights defence contexts: cheaper, more robust, more capable
  • Some efforts focused on political and economic events have met with mixed results, such as the company Recorded Future

    Seeking to organize all of the data on the internet for predictive purpose in various realms including political, economic, social, and natural

    Initial investors were Google and the CIA, indicating significant private sector and government interest in this type of capability

    If the concept is proven, it has great applications for human rights purposes, though also great potential for abuse

    Governments could use it to predict unrest and then heighten their security posture accordingly

    Activists and NGOs could use it to gauge public sentiment and time their actions effectively, while also possibly anticipating government actions and planning a response
  • Technology, human rights & movement building around the world

    1. 1. Are there new and upcoming technologies where you see serious opportunities or risks for people working on social change? 1
    2. 2. Technology, Human Rights, and Movement Building Around the World
    3. 3. To actively assist people worldwide wherever and whenever they are threatened by mass atrocities. Innovative use of technology Cooperation with threatened communities 3
    4. 4. Ongoing Work • Monitoring several situations of concern such as... – Azerbaijan – Burma – Colombia – Iran – Kenya – Indonesia 4
    5. 5. Hatebase 5
    6. 6. Threatwiki 6
    7. 7. Countering Misinformation via SMS 7
    8. 8. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles 8
    9. 9. Why is technology relevant to human rights? Opportunities Risks Defenders Violators 9
    10. 10. Activists need to know... • How to use new tools to achieve their goals • Adapt existing tools to be used in new ways • Recognize vulnerabilities that certain tools create • Understand how technology can be used against them Remember the 10/90 rule 10
    11. 11. It’s all about information and communication • Ultimately, everything we discuss during this course will have something to do with gathering, storing, manipulating, and moving information • This was true even in past centuries to mobilize movements • Key term: ICT = information and communications technology One-to-many | Many-to-one | One-to-one | Many-to-many 11
    12. 12. Technology can be used to... • Mobilize populations • Document abuses • Maintain freedom of speech • Understand a crisis • Give a voice to the voiceless ...and much, much more. 12
    13. 13. Communication, coordination, and liberation didn’t begin with Twitter • Oppressed populations have always employed available technology to support the cause of liberation • “Technology” is a broad category of tools • The tools change but the objectives tend to stay the same 13
    14. 14. French Liberation (1940-44) • Under German occupation, the French resistance published underground newspapers and broadsheets with circulations approaching 500,000 • Underground book publishers were founded to evade state censorship of controversial topics • Communication inside and outside the country, when not delegated to couriers or face-to-face contact, was accomplished using wireless (radio) Source 14
    15. 15. Quit India (1942) • Widespread civil disobedience was prefaced by the publication of Allama Mashriqi’s telegram to leaders of the Indian independence movement • In the wake of police crackdowns, the movement went underground, communicating by means of underground radio stations and presses • Congress Radio Source 15
    16. 16. The Velvet Revolution (1989) • Under communist rule, Czechoslovakian dissidents relied on samizdat (underground publications) to distribute censored information • As the government weakened in 1989, protest organizers used posters affixed in public places to rally opposition forces and organize widespread strikes • Forced to loosen its grip on radio, TV, and print, the government ceded airwaves to limited opposition media coverage Source Source 16
    17. 17. Cyber-utopians vs. Cyber-skeptics • Some think technology is a silver bullet • Others say it’s all hype • “How the Internet Strengthens Dictatorships” by Evgeny Morozov So who’s right? 17
    18. 18. Gladwell vs. Shirky “Just because innovations in communications technology happen does not mean that they matter” Social media platforms are built around “weak ties” “The Facebook page of the Save Darfur Coalition has 1,282,339 members, who have donated an average of nine cents apiece.” Witness the 2001 Philippine impeachment, 2008 South Korean beef protests, 2009 communist defeat in Moldova. “Do social media allow insurgents to adopt new strategies? And have those strategies ever been crucial? Here, the historical record of the last decade is unambiguous: yes, and yes.” 18
    19. 19. Social media and other liberation technologies can… • Connect oppressed populations for purposes of information sharing, discussion, analysis, and coordination • Decentralize opposition leadership structures, making repression more difficult • Alert the outside world to human rights abuses • Push governments to implement social change both large and small 19
    20. 20. Social media cannot… • By itself topple a government • Reliably protect oppressed populations from surveillance or physical harm • Replace real-world action 20
    21. 21. Don’t fall into the “slacktivism” trap 21
    22. 22. A little harsh but worth remembering • Don’t abandon social media and other technology • Just understand what it can and can’t do • Make sure that you use it correctly • It has to make sense for you and your campaign Remember some fundamental principles. 22
    23. 23. 1 - Consider your audience • What technologies do they use? • How much to they trust them? Source Source 23
    24. 24. 2 - Behaviour is more important than tools (remember the 10/90 rule) • You have the technology, but what about a strategy? • How will it be used? • Will people know about it? • Will the understand what it can and cannot do? • Think of it like marketing Source 24
    25. 25. 3 - Assess and manage risks • Does a tool create more danger than benefit? • Do you understand the vulnerabilities? • How will users be protected? 25
    26. 26. 4 - Take a people-centred approach • Is the community at the heart of your campaign? • Are you thinking of how it fits into their lives? URL:
    27. 27. 5 - Link technological tools to real-world action • Is this a “feel good” campaign or actually effecting change? • Don’t just facilitate slacktivism Source 27
    28. 28. 6 - Ensure redundancy, safety, and security • Are users, data, and the system as a whole protected? • Something will go wrong, whether it’s malicious or just plain accidental Source 28
    29. 29. Time for Some Examples 29
    30. 30. The Mobile Revolution 30
    31. 31. Tech Incubation in the Developing World 31
    32. 32. SMS • The biggest advantage to SMS over other mobile technologies is its ubiquity… Cheap, limited-functionality cellular phones are everywhere! • SMS can be one-to-one between originator and recipient, or one-to- many using group SMS technologies like Frontline SMS • In rural areas, tweets are sometimes redistributed from urban areas as SMS Meet the Nokia 1100, the world’s most popular telephone 32
    33. 33. Crisis Mapping - Kenya • Kenya 2007-2008 • Post-election violence • Ushahidi • Blogger and developers created tool to visualize the situation 33
    34. 34. Crisis Mapping - Egypt URL: 34
    35. 35. Camera Phones and Social Media - Iran • President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood for re-election • Two main opposition candidates from the reformist camp • Major street demonstrations after Ahmadinejad unexpectedly won 35
    36. 36. Crackdown • Iran’s government has always discouraged and often punished dissent • As protests continued for weeks, the death toll mounted • Amnesty International estimates 80 people killed 36
    37. 37. Twitter – Citizen Journalism • Dual use: an organizing tool and a reporting tool • Became the focus of a lot of Western media attention • spread news of events in real-time as they unfolded • Not only internal communication with Iran but also worldwide 37
    38. 38. Advantages • Link from opposition activists to the outside world • Helped direct people to opportunities for participation in protests • Relatively easy for activists to conceal their identities • Supporters worldwide changed information to confuse censors “We have no national press coverage in Iran, everyone should help spread Moussavi’s message. One Person = One Broadcaster. #IranElection” - Example tweet during protests Retweets as % of Overall Volume of Tweets 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% Normal Major Events Iran Protests 38
    39. 39. Disadvantages • Some argue that the protests were too large and well-organized to be the “flash mob” style result of Twitter • Small number of Iranians on Twitter but their influence was exaggerated • Creation of information elites Twitter Users in China (2010) Gender 87% male 13% female Age 70% between 21-29 Education Majority - at least one degree Economics 67% from 6 major, wealthier cities Occupation 30% students 27.5% IT workers 39
    40. 40. Cell Phone Cameras – Eyes Everywhere • Sharing information means first capturing and then communicating it • Cell phones with cameras already available to Iranians for several years • Worldwide, 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami first use of these for major event • Iran was the first use in a human rights abuse situation Number of Iranian Mobile Subecribers by Year 0 10,000,000 20,000,000 30,000,000 40,000,000 50,000,000 60,000,000 70,000,000 80,000,000 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Data source: ITU ( 40
    41. 41. Egypt – Use of Technology • February 2011 • More than 21 percent (of 80 million population) had access to internet • More than 4.5 million used Facebook • More than 70 percent had mobile phones Source Source Source 41
    42. 42. Egypt - Developments in Technology: Arrest Notification with Etmasakt • Smartphone availability allowed for more complex functionality than usual SMS • Example is arrests of activists who disappear without explanation • Etmasakt and similar apps notify specified contacts during arrest • Greatly improves their odds of being found and receiving legal aid or other support 42
    43. 43. Satellite Imagery 43
    44. 44. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles 44
    45. 45. Predictive Analytics and “Big Data” • Some efforts have met with mixed results, such as the company Recorded Future – If proven, concept has great applications for human rights purposes, though also potential for abuse Activity related to Hassan Nasrallah (Hezbollah leader) 45
    46. 46. Now it’s time to... • Take the full course! – 5 weeks, all online, only $49 • Like us on Facebook: • Follow us on Twitter: • Register for Hatebase: • Volunteer 46
    47. 47. What risks do we face as activists when using technology to achieve social change not only in repressive countries but also here in Canada or even specifically in Toronto? How can we mitigate these? 47
    48. 48. Is there value in what has been criticized as "slacktivism" or "clicktivism"? How do we transform small symbolic online actions into real change? 48