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[liberationtech] Wael Ghonim interview

Rebecca MacKinnon rebecca.mackinnon at gmail.com
Tue Feb 8 06:23:57 PST 2011


As a footnote to this, Michael Anti, a famous Chinese blogger and former
Berkman fellow, has had his account deactivated for not using his real name.
(He never uses his real name in any of his professional capacities, online
or off.) He appealed, and they said that while he's welcome to use the
"alternative name" field so that people can see both his nom de plume and
his real name, they cannot allow him to use "Michael Anti" as his sole
identity on FB. He has objected to this strenuously, arguing that such a
policy is very bad for activists in China and elsewhere.

Chinese bloggers are of course speculating that FB's stepped-up real name
policy enforcement has to do with FB's interest in entering the Chinese
market. I have no way of knowing whether this is true.

The moral of the story is this: Anybody using FB for activism should be sure
to make regular (even daily) backups of all their content and contacts. If
you're disabled for using a false name and you did in fact use a false name,
you've got no rights under the terms of service. If you're disabled by
mistake, a successful appeal is not guaranteed.

In the medium term, activists who rely heavily on FB should be sure to have
blogs and other online vehicles independent of FB that are more supportive
of security and anonymity, and get in the habit of cross-posting to them -
linking to them frequently in their FB pages, and making sure their core
target communities know about these alternative online "home bases."

In the longer term activists may want to think about working actively on
building critical mass and momentum for successful activism in other parts
of the Internet that are more friendly to anonymous and pseudonymous dissent
- and supporting companies that are more activist-friendly.

Best,
Rebecca



Rebecca


On Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 8:52 AM, Jillian C. York <jilliancyork at gmail.com>wrote:

> I've been tracking instances of this in the Middle East and North Africa as
> well as a few from China and Hong Kong passed on by a
> contact similarly concerned.  It's unfortunately fairly common amongst
> activists, and here's why: Facebook has made clear that anyone, including
> celebrities (they used Lady Gaga as an example) must use their legal name on
> the platform.  For ordinary folks, there's no reason to worry.  Activists,
> on the other hand, are likely to have opponents.
>
> The problem there is that, when a Facebook user is reported for using a
> false name (anyone can report another user), the incident is sent into a
> queue to be reviewed by FB staff.  Staff then (this is according to
> Facebook) review the account and determine whether to follow up.  In cases
> where the name *looks* real, they may ignore the complaint.  Sometimes
> they do, sometimes they don't; if they choose to proceed, they will often
> deactivate the user's account, or ask for government identification.
>
> I've tracked about 50 instances of the latter, mostly in MENA (though
> that's my area of focus, so I wouldn't say it's representative of any sort
> of bias), but some in the US as well.
>
> Thus, I wouldn't say there's a pattern in authoritarian states, but rather,
> there's a pattern with activists, who are targeted by their opponents.
>
> I published this last September on the subject:
> http://opennet.net/policing-content-quasi-public-sphere; there's a section
> dedicated to Facebook alone.
>
>
> On Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 8:45 AM, Steven Clift <clift at e-democracy.org>wrote:
>
>> So, how actively does Facebook enforce its real identity requirement in
>> authoritarian states?
>>
>> How do they do this and how does enforcement compare with the U.S. for
>> example?
>>
>> When I met with Somali NGOs in Kenya, it was stated that just about every
>> active Somali on Facebook uses an alternative identity to be safer as well
>> as to be listen to for what they are saying instead of being dismissed for
>> being from x or y clan or organization.
>>
>> Steven Clift
>>  On Feb 8, 2011 7:34 AM, "Jillian C. York" <jilliancyork at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>> > I think it's worth pointing out a small inaccuracy in this piece: Ghonim
>> was
>> > one of many of the FB page's admins, is not the current admin, and did
>> not
>> > create the page originally.
>> >
>> > I say this not to diminish his work or the manner in which Egyptians
>> view
>> > him now (lots of tweets yesterday calling him a hero), but to point out
>> that
>> > he did not take credit for that, rather Hounshell attributed it to him.
>> > Lots of others were involved in the creation and maintenance of that
>> page,
>> > many of whom have chosen to remain anonymous (and have thus suffered
>> > Facebook's wrath again and again; recall the page going down in December
>> for
>> > that very reason).
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > On Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 12:14 AM, elham gheytanchi <
>> elhamucla at hotmail.com>wrote:
>> >
>> >> just read this about him:
>> >>
>> >> A New Leader For Egypt's Protesters? - By Blake Hounshell
>> >>
>> >> CAIRO — Twelve days ago, Wael Ghonim posted a chilling message on his
>> >> Twitter account. "Pray for #Egypt," he wrote. "Very worried as it seems
>> >> that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are
>> >> all ready to die."
>> >>
>> >> And then he disappeared.
>> >>
>> >> One day later, a huge, angry crowd -- choking on tear gas and braving
>> fire
>> >> hoses, rubber bullets, and live ammunition -- overwhelmed thousands of
>> >> black-helmeted riot police and surged into Cairo's central Tahrir
>> Square,
>> >> setting the stage for a standoff between protesters and President Hosni
>> >> Mubarak that is well into its second week.
>> >>
>> >> Ghonim, a Dubai-based Google executive who hadn't been seen or heard
>> from
>> >> since Jan. 27, was freed on Monday, Feb. 7, after an international
>> >> campaign for his release. "Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting
>> for
>> >> it," he tweeted shortly after 8 p.m., Cairo time.
>> >>
>> >> Ghonim appeared Monday evening on Dream 2, a private channel owned by
>> >> Egyptian tycoon Naguib Sawiris, and gave a devastating, emotional
>> >> interview that cut deeply into the image the Mubarak regime has been
>> >> trying to paint of the protesters.
>> >>
>> >> Looking deeply shaken, his eyes haunted and voice breaking, Ghonim
>> >> insisted, "This was a revolution of the youth of all of Egypt. I'm not
>> a
>> >> hero."
>> >>
>> >> Gaining strength throughout the interview, Ghonim said he wasn't
>> tortured,
>> >> but was kidnapped by four armed men, blindfolded, and questioned
>> >> relentlessly about how the protesters pulled off the uprising (they
>> "had
>> >> no idea," he said). But later, when the host showed photographs of
>> young
>> >> Egyptians who have lost their lives over the last few weeks, Ghonim
>> wept
>> >> openly and then walked away, saying they died "because of those who
>> cling
>> >> to power."
>> >>
>> >> Many people here had speculated that Ghonim was the administrator of
>> the
>> >> "We Are All Khaled Said" Facebook page, set up to commemorate a
>> >> 28-year-old youth who was brutally beaten to death on June 6, 2010, by
>> >> police at an Internet cafe in Alexandria. It was the page's call for
>> >> nationwide demonstrations across Egypt -- along with the spark provided
>> by
>> >> nearby Tunisia -- that lit the flame of revolution, activists say. What
>> >> was so effective about the Jan. 25 protest was that "it was a clear
>> call
>> >> to action," said Nasser Weddady, civil rights outreach director for the
>> >> American Islamic Congress in Boston. "Everybody wants to stop torture."
>> >>
>> >> In the interview, Ghonim admitted for the first time that he was indeed
>> >> the voice behind the page -- though he said repeatedly that it was
>> others
>> >> "on the ground" who made it all happen. "I have been away for 12 days."
>> >>
>> >> Ironically, by kidnapping, detaining, and then releasing Ghonim --
>> >> instantly turning him into a nationwide celebrity -- the regime may
>> have
>> >> just created an undisputed leader for a movement that in recent days
>> has
>> >> struggled to find its footing, seemingly outfoxed by a government
>> skilled
>> >> in the dark arts of quashing and marginalizing dissent. Within minutes
>> of
>> >> his interview, his personal Facebook page had surged in popularity, and
>> >> the tweets were coming so fast that #Ghonim briefly became a trending
>> >> topic on Twitter.
>> >>
>> >> Ghonim's reappearance comes at a critical time for the protesters. Now
>> >> that the galvanizing moment has passed, it's not clear where their
>> >> movement goes from here. It's one thing to build a coalition against
>> >> police brutality, something Egyptians of all classes have suffered from
>> >> for decades; it's quite another to rally people around more complex
>> >> demands, such as constitutional reform or media oversight. And after a
>> >> week of nonstop propaganda on state television against the protesters
>> --
>> >> painted simultaneously as dangerous Islamists and Israeli agents --
>> it's
>> >> not even clear that an overwhelming majority of Egyptians want Mubarak
>> out
>> >> immediately, as the folks in Tahrir insist.
>> >>
>> >> For the protest movement, decentralization is at once the source of its
>> >> power and its potential Achilles' heel.
>> >>
>> >> The organization that administers the square itself, it's important to
>> >> understand, is a completely separate entity from the various other
>> >> Facebook groups, political parties, and other movements that often get
>> (or
>> >> take) credit for the uprising. Ahmed Naguib, 33, a member of the
>> >> 1,000-plus strong Tahrir organizing committee, told me that few of the
>> >> volunteers who man the barricades, seek to root out regime
>> infiltrators,
>> >> staff the increasingly well-stocked field hospitals and pharmacies, and
>> >> bring in supplies are "political" types -- as is the case with the
>> roughly
>> >> 100-member steering committee that more or less makes key logistical
>> >> decisions. Many if not most of these people didn't even know each other
>> >> before last week -- and they aren't necessarily activists. The ad hoc
>> >> organizers have resisted efforts by some groups to secure
>> representational
>> >> seating in the inner circle of the steering committee, Naguib told me.
>> >>
>> >> It's true that some of the youth groups are in communication with the
>> >> "Wise Men" -- the self-appointed council of elders that has offered
>> itself
>> >> up as a go-between with the regime -- but others complain that they
>> have
>> >> little visibility on those discussions and distrust an initiative that
>> >> smacks of selling out those who gave their lives taking and defending
>> the
>> >> square. But the youth groups don't necessarily represent the
>> unaffiliated
>> >> masses in the square, either. Nobody I've spoken with, moreover,
>> >> recognized the handful of "January 25 youth" who met briefly with Vice
>> >> President Omar Suleiman on Saturday, nor the "Coalition of Angry Youth"
>> >> who gave a news conference on Sunday, to give their view of the
>> >> negotiations.
>> >>
>> >> Meanwhile, splits are emerging even within groups. Over the weekend,
>> when
>> >> the Army began moving its tanks further into the square in a bid to
>> push
>> >> the protesters south of the Egyptian Museum, dozens of young members of
>> >> the Muslim Brotherhood rushed to lie in front of the tracks -- over the
>> >> objections of a senior Brotherhood official. At a news conference on
>> >> Sunday, senior leaders of the Islamist movement stressed repeatedly
>> that
>> >> they had "no special agenda," a clear attempt to head off criticism of
>> >> their decision to negotiate with the regime.
>> >>
>> >> Inside Tahrir, different groups are gradually staking out separate
>> >> geographic areas, with the Muslim Brotherhood dominating the megaphone
>> at
>> >> the southern end of the square, while the socialists have assembled an
>> >> entire speaker system a few dozen yards west, and various smaller
>> groups
>> >> are sprinkled elsewhere.
>> >>
>> >> "Everybody here is organizing," said political analyst Hisham Kassem,
>> "but
>> >> there's nobody to negotiate with. We have no control over the square,
>> and
>> >> they don't either."
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> ------------------------------
>> >> Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2011 20:14:55 -0800
>> >> From: marycjoyce at gmail.com
>> >> To: liberationtech at lists.stanford.edu
>> >> Subject: [liberationtech] Wael Ghonim interview
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> This interview with Wael Ghonim is absolutely critical to those hoping
>> to
>> >> understand the digital aspect of the protests in Egypt. Wael is the
>> >> formerly imprisoned admin of the "We are all Khaled Said" Facebook
>> group
>> >> (also a Google employee) who is an influential figure in the democracy
>> >> movement.
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> http://egypt.alive.in/2011/02/08/dream-tv-interview-with-wael-ghonim-part-2-with-english-subtitles/
>> >>
>> >> --
>> >> MARY C. JOYCE
>> >> Founder | The Meta-Activism Project | www.Meta-Activism.org<
>> http://www.meta-activism.org/>
>> >> Digital Activism Consultant | www.MaryJoyce.com<
>> http://www.maryjoyce.com/>
>>
>> >> Mobile | +1.857.928.1297
>> >>
>> >>
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>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > --
>> > Berkman Center for Internet and Society |
>> > https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/jyork
>> > jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Berkman Center for Internet and Society |
> https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/people/jyork
> jilliancyork.com | @jilliancyork | tel: +1-857-891-4244
>
>
>
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-- 
Rebecca MacKinnon
Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Co-founder, GlobalVoicesOnline.org
Cell: +1-617-939-3493
E-mail: rebecca.mackinnon at gmail.com
Blog: RConversation.blogs.com
Twitter: @rmack <http://twitter.com/rmack>
Facebook: facebook.com/rmackinnon
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