November 17, 2016

Life is the price paid by free speech bloggers... video, marketplace offers from biggies: Social Media updates

Zimbabwe's war on social media after the national flag became a symbol of protest


The Zimbabwean Government, threatened by the massive popularity of social media, has invoked  harsh laws and threatened the public to behave. The telecom regulatory authority has warned social media activists in no uncertain terms by issuing statements such as this: We would like all Zimbabweans to know that we are completely against this behavior and, therefore, advise that anyone generating, passing on or sharing such abusive and subversive materials which are tantamount to criminal behavior will be disconnected and the law will take its course. President Robert Mugabe himself has directly and indirectly asked people to behave or face action.

What has irked the government is the use of social media to spread criticism against the government. In April this year, priest Evan Mawarire uploaded a video in which he criticized the government's economic policies. The national flag that he had worn around his neck soon became a symbol of protest first on the social media (hashtag #ThisFlag) and then on the ground.

Niloy killer arrested in Bangladesh: Will he be tried and will other bloggers get justice?


Recall a series of killings of bloggers and other free-thinkers in Bangladesh in recent months, and worldwide criticism of the government for being soft on radical groups hacking anybody seen to be writing against Islamic thought as propagated by hardliners? Since July, the government has cracked down on such elements with an iron hand. 

This Islamist radical, Khairul Islam, is reported to have admitted to killing Niloy. He also eliminated a publisher, Dipan. 

Zone9 bloggers again under threat.


Ethiopia has arrested over 11000 citizens under the Emergency rule. Any sort of protest can get one straight into the jail.

Zone9, the bloggers that are the social media face of protest against misrule in this country, have faced arrest, threats  and unfavorable court orders.  Four of the bloggers released in 2015, appeared in the court a fortnight back. One of them, Befeqadu, has been arrested now for his recent interview to VOA.
  

This Mauritanian blogger might be hanged soon for being critical of Prophet.


The clergy in Mauritania is after Mkhaitir for his apostasy or heresy. It has urged the government to immediately implement death penalty to Mkhaitir. 

This writer/ blogger wrote an article in 2014 in a French web-mag Chezvlane, in which he said, Prophet Mohammed indulged in double standards in his dealings with Jews and Arabs. His sentence to death was swift and has been upheld by the court of appeal. Mauritania watchers say, he does not have much chance in the supreme court too. With the clergy after his blood, one more free voice might soon get silenced for ever.
    

The angry face of blogging in Singapore free, but for how long?

 
Amos Yee's YTube, blog pages

Amos Yee, 17, a Singaporean blogger, who was sentenced to six weeks in jail last week for his posts critical of Muslims and Christians, is being released before completing the sentence. He has earlier been jailed for a similar charge of 'intending to wound religious feelings' and undermining religious harmony. Yee posts primarily on his YouTube account, Facebook page and Wordpress blog, from which some posts have been taken down for being obscene or hurtful towards some religions. 

Now some tech updates:

Tried Facebook Marketplace yet?


Facebook last month launched Marketplace, a platform for buying/ selling products from/ to people nearby, in a few markets including the US and the UK.

Facebook Marketplace (image: FB)

Facebook says more than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups on its platform each month - from families in a local neighborhood to collectors around the world. So, taking it forward, Marketplace is supposed to be a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community.

Considering Facebook's huge popularity, this would definitely challenge the supremacy of the likes of Craiglist and eBay, will it? 

New heat in video calling app field: Duo vs WhatsApp vs ?


Google has not only launched Duo, the video calling app, but has this also bundled in its new Pixel phones. In fact, Google has deprecated Hangout on these phones in favor of Duo. WhatsApp has launched video calling, though on Android phones only (not iOS) as of now.

Video calling may not replace voice calling in the next few years but its share will go up significantly. So, after video on demand, small video clips, self-playing videos and live video, video calling was the natural next step in the internet-based communication world. It could not succeed well in the pre-app era but the latest offerings on apps seem to work from day one. That leads to the scramble. Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp (also owned now by Facebook), Hike, Skype, Google Duo... There are many players already and new emerging but like chat apps, only a few will sustain. Let's see.