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August 16 2012

09:35

Reuters blogging platform hacked again on Wednesday: False Saudi blog posted

The identity of the hacker(s) are unknown, but of course Reuters speculates on the reasons behind the recent attacks and ascribes it to "an intensifying conflict in cyberspace between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."

Reuters :: The blogging platform of the Reuters News website was hacked (on Wednesday) and a false posting saying Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal had died was illegally posted on a Reuters journalist's blog, the company said on Wednesday.

A report by Andrew Torchia, www.reuters.com

 

Tags: Reuters Syria

August 13 2012

13:17

Facebook, Twitter play key role in Syrian uprising: Also for infiltration

Reuters Twitter account was recently hacked and also "false reports about Syrian rebel losses" were posted. Thomson Reuters mentioned that they had no clue of who's behind the hacking. Does that kind of hacking have any impact at all? A doubt raised by Dan Murphy, Christian Science Monitor.

Times Of India :: The battle for Syria is raging on the ground but also on social media, where people on both sides of the conflict are hacking, posting and spamming in a frenzied propaganda war. The Twitter feeds of news organisations have been hacked by pro-regime elements, videos purporting to show atrocities in Syria are regularly posted to YouTube and pro- or anti-government messages often flood Facebook pages.

A report by mbx/al/bm, timesofindia.indiatimes.com

August 09 2012

14:00

Reuters, Gizmodo Hacks Are Cautionary Tales for News Orgs

The Syrian civil war is also a propaganda war. With the Assad regime and the rebels both attempting to assure their supporters and the world that they are on the brink of victory, how the facts are reported has become central to the struggle. Hackers working in support of Assad loyalists this week decided to take a shortcut, attacking the Reuters news agency's blogging platform and one of its Twitter accounts, and planting false stories about the vanquishing of rebel leaders and wavering support for them from abroad.

The stories and tweets were unconvincing, and none spread much further than their home sites. The majority of readers disseminating the repurposed Twitter stream appeared to be Assad partisans, either keen to spread the misconceptions or to believe them themselves.

The attacks demonstrate, however, how media institutions are at risk of targeted attacks by state-supported electronic activists -- and that hackers will attempt to leverage the outlying parts of a large organization to take wider control, or at least the appearance of wider control.

Neither Reuters' blogging site nor its minor Twitter accounts feed the company's authoritative wire service, but as a consequence they may not have the same levels of heavy protection against misuse. A weak password used by a single person could have granted an outsider the power to post publicly to either service.

Even individual journalists are at risk

Even when a hacker's target is an individual journalist and not his or her media organization, things can escalate to affect the institutions journalists work for. When the tech reporting site Gizmodo's Twitter account was taken over on Friday, it was through an attack on one of its former reporters, Mat Honan. Gizmodo's reporting has made it unpopular in some quarters, but Honan says that he was the target, and that Gizmodo was "collateral damage." His Twitter account was linked to Gizmodo's corporate account, and the attackers used one to post to the other.

Thumbnail image for mathonan.png

Honan's story should give anyone pause about their own digital safety, especially if they rely on external companies. His Twitter account was taken over by a hacker who persuaded a tech support line operator to reset the password to his Apple account. The attacker used this account to change his linked Gmail and Twitter account information, and then proceeded to use the "remote wipe" feature on the latest Apple iPhone and laptops to disable and delete the content of his phone, iPad and Macbook. As a
freelancer, Honan did not have offline backup of his work. (Honan says he is waiting for a response from Apple the company; meanwhile, Apple tech support is helping with damage control.)

Honan has corresponded with an individual who claims to be his hacker, and says that the real intent of the compromise was his three-letter Twitter account. Whether it's by common cybercriminals or state-supported propagandists, journalists are being targeted as individuals. The organizations that employ them need to invest resources and training to improve their cyber-security; not least because when one person's security is compromised, everyone who relies on that person is also under threat.

Danny O'Brien is the Internet advocacy coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. O'Brien has been at the forefront of the fight for digital rights worldwide, serving as an activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was an original staff member for Wired UK magazine and co-founded the Open Rights Group, a British digital rights organization. He's also worked as a journalist covering technology and culture for the New Scientist, The Sunday Times of London, and The Irish Times. Follow on Twitter: @danny_at_cpj

cpj-logo-name.jpgA version of this post originally appeared on CPJ's Internet Channel. The Committee to Protect Journalists is a New York-based, independent, non-profit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. You can learn more at CPJ.org or follow the CPJ on Twitter @pressfreedom or on Facebook here.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

August 05 2012

19:22

Second security breach: @ReutersTech was hacked and changed to @ReutersME

The Next Web :: New agency Thomson Reuters suffered its second Web security breach in 48 hours after hackers took control of its Twitter account dedicated to technology news, changing the focus to the Middle East and posting a series of pro-Syrian government tweets to its 17,500 followers.

Earlier today @reuterstech was hacked and changed to @reutersme. The account has been suspended and is currently under investigation

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 5, 2012

A report by Jon Russell, thenextweb.com

August 03 2012

11:55

BBC journalist back from Syria will take part in live Twitter chat on Syria

Journalism.co.uk :: BBC News is running a live Twitter Q&A with journalist Ian Pannell later today, who recently returned from reporting in Syria. In the live Twitter chat, the first of its kind for BBC News, Pannell will answer questions on his experience of reporting from the country which CNN's Arwa Damon described as "one of the most frustrating, difficult and challenging stories to cover".

Q&A will run for an hour from 5pm (BST) today: Friday, 3 August

A report by Rachel McAthy, www.journalism.co.uk

Tags: BBC CNN Syria

August 01 2012

12:28

Syria's video activists give revolution the upper hand in media war

Guardian :: In April last year Ahmad Mohammad left his village in northern Syria filled with its pomegranate trees, figs, and goats, and moved to Lebanon. He came back five months later with a certificate in mobile phone maintenance – a weapon more powerful than Bashar al-Assad's helicopters and tanks. Armed with camera phones activists are posting hundreds of videos on the internet every day documenting the civil war

A report by Luke Harding, www.guardian.co.uk

Tags: Syria
12:21

Two journalists reportedly wounded in Syria yesterday

International Press Institute :: An Al Jazeera correspondent has reportedly been wounded in Syria and transferred to Turkey for medical treatment, while a Turkish photojournalist was reportedly shot in the foot. Both journalists were injured while covering clashes in Aleppo, the commercial capital of Syria, which has witnessed brutal fighting in recent days.

A report by Naomi Hunt, www.freemedia.at

July 28 2012

19:21

Newsgathering remote: Syria reporters struggle to bear witness

Huffington Post :: For 17 months, President Bashar al-Assad's regime has severely restricted press access in the country as his soldiers first brutally cracked down on peaceful protests and now battle opposition forces in a war that has claimed more than 19,000 lives.

[Michael Calderone:] When it comes to covering Syria, the fog of war is especially thick.

A report by Michael Calderone, www.huffingtonpost.com

18:58

A Dutch and a British photographer freed by Syrian rebels after weeklong ordeal

New York Times :: A Dutch freelance photographer, Jeroen Oerlemans, and a British photographer, John Cantlie, captured by Islamic extremists in Syria and held for a week were rescued by Syrian opposition fighters, one of them said on Friday.

A report by Rod Nordland, www.nytimes.com

Tags: Syria

July 27 2012

15:14

Photojournalist Benjamin Hiller in Syria: Facebook removed photos due to 'concerns'

Note: unverified claim so far. I have reached out for more details.

HT: kurdish blogger, here:

Benjamin Hiller a photojournalist in the Kurdish areas in Syria says that Facebook has removed some of his photos twitter.com/kurdishblogger…

— kurdish blogger (@kurdishblogger) July 27, 2012

Benjamin Hiller on Facebook

Benjamin Hiller's blog

May 05 2012

10:58

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decries growing killings of journalists

DOHA :: "We have to protect journalists in democratic countries first of all. There are tens of countries which are democratic and do not respect the law as they should do," Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at a UN event on press freedom organized by France and Greece. Reporters Without Borders said that more than 280 journalists and bloggers have been imprisoned this year, including 32 in Eritrea, 30 in China and 27 in Iran and 14 in Syria. But five have been detained in Azerbaijan, which is the UN Security Council president for May. Ban and press freedom groups have sought to stress the role of the media, and particularly the new social media, in covering the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Syria over the past 18 months.

Continue to read www.dc4mf.org

May 03 2012

05:27

Targeting Syrian opposition activists: After YouTube, Facebook attacks now Skype

Electronic Frontier Foundation :: The campaign of attacks targeting Syrian opposition activists on the Internet has taken a new turn. Since the beginning of the year, Syrian opposition activists have been targeted using several Trojans, which covertly install spying software onto the infected computer, as well as a multitude of phishing attacks which steal YouTube and Facebook login credentials. Last week, TrendMicro's Malware Blog described a website which purportedly offered Skype encryption software, but was actually a Trojan.

"Spyware" - Continue to read Eva Galperin | Morgan Marquis-Boire, www.eff.org

Tags: Syria

April 26 2012

13:18

Vogue’s flattering profile on Assad’s wife disappears from Web

Washington Post :: It may have been the worst-timed, and most tin-eared, magazine article in decades. “Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic — the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies,” writer Joan Juliet Buck began her profile of Syria’s first lady in Vogue last year. Amid descriptions of Assad’s “energetic grace” and Christian Laboutin shoes, Buck wrote: “The 35-year-old first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls ‘active citizenship.’ Well, perhaps.

Now? - The story disappeared.

Continue to read Paul Farhi, www.washingtonpost.com

Tags: Syria

April 23 2012

07:55

Targeting companies delivering to Iran, Syria: Obama to cite new technologies in rights abuses

Reuters :: President Barack Obama will issue an order on Monday to allow imposition of sanctions on foreign nationals who use new technologies such as cell-phone tracking and Internet monitoring to help carry out human rights abuses, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

Continue to read www.reuters.com

March 30 2012

14:00

This Week in Review: Grappling with ground-up activism, and a new ‘pay-less’ form of paywall

Activism and journalism from the ground up: Now that the story of Trayvon Martin’s killing has moved fully into the U.S.’ national consciousness, a few writers have taken a look back to examine the path it took to get there. The New York Times’ Brian Stelter traced the story’s rise to prominence, highlighting the role of racial diversity in newsrooms in drawing attention to it. Poynter’s Kelly McBride gave a more detailed review of the story’s path through the media, concluding: “This is how stories are told now. They are told by people who care passionately, until we all care.” (This week, there was also bottom-up sourcing of a more dubious nature on the story, as the Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum pointed out.)

The New York Times’ David Carr looked at the Trayvon Martin story and several other web-driven campaigns to assess the value of “hashtag activism,” acknowledging its limitations but concluding that while web activism is no match for its offline counterpart, it still makes the world a better place.

There were several other strains of conversation tying into digital activism and citizen journalism this week: the Lab re-printed a Talking Points Memo story on the unreliability of Twitter buzz as a predictor of election results, and the University of Colorado’s Steve Outing wondered whether social media movements have surpassed the impact of traditional journalism on many issues.

Meanwhile, the report of an embellished photo from a citizen journalist in Syria led some to question the reliability of that information, but GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram countered that citizen journalism isn’t displacing traditional journalism, but helping complement it when used wisely. One of Ingram’s prime examples of that blending of traditional and citizen-powered journalism was NPR tweeter extraordinaire Andy Carvin, who was the subject of a fine Current profile, in which he described Twitter as “the newsroom where I spend my time” and pinpointing news judgment as the key ingredient in his journalistic curation process.

Debating the effectiveness of news paywalls: Google formally unveiled its new paywall alternative in partnership with publishers this week: News sites include surveys that users need to answer in order to read an article. Google pays news sites a nickel per answer, advertisers pay Google for the survey, everybody goes home happy. Just a few publishers have signed up so far, though. (You might remember that the Lab’s Justin Ellis wrote on Google’s testing of this idea last fall.)

Elsewhere in paywalls: Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said his paper has not ruled out a paywall plan, though he also clarified that there’s “nothing on the horizon.” His publication is, obviously, far from the only one grappling with the prospect of charging for content online: The New Republic’s new owner dropped the magazine’s paywall for recent articles, and The Washington Post’s ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, explained why he doesn’t see a paywall in that paper’s future.

Pexton said the Post first needs to build up its reader base and make sure the site’s technology runs better, and he cast some doubt on the helpfulness of The New York Times’ pay plan for its bottom line. The Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum picked apart Pexton’s analysis of the Times’ numbers, and asserted that a paywall’s purpose isn’t to be enormously profitable, and non-paywall digital revenue plans aren’t, either. “The point [of a paywall] is to stop or slow the bleeding and to help make the transition to an all-digital future five or ten years down the line — one that includes more than one flimsy revenue stream based on volatile and not-very-lucrative digital ads,” he wrote.

GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram suggested a “velvet rope” approach to paid content instead of a paywall, in which users would volunteer to pay in exchange for privileges and perks. The Times’ David Carr was skeptical — on Twitter, he summarized the post as, “Don’t build a paywall, create a velvet rope made out of socmedia pixie dust and see if that pays the bills.”

The Guardian opens up: The Guardian is firmly positioning itself at the forefront of what it calls “open journalism,” as it hosted a festival last weekend called the Guardian Open Weekend, during which more than 5,000 readers visited its London offices. The paper recapped the event, and Polis’ Charlie Beckett urged The Guardian to go further and faster in incorporating readers into its production process, turning them from “readers” to “members.”

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger held a Q&A with readers on open journalism, in which he spoke of the tension between the print and digital products in enacting change: “In order to be effective digital companies newspapers have to free themselves of some of the thinking that goes into the creation or a printed product…But most of the revenue is still in print, so the transition is bound to be a staged one, involving fine judgements about the pace of change.” Rusbridger also tweeted the paper’s 10 principles of open journalism, which were helpfully Storified by Josh Stearns, along with some other open journalism resources.

New accusations against News Corp.: A new branch grew out of News Corp.’s ever-growing tree of scandals this week, when two news orgs in Britain and Australia almost simultaneously broke stories about alleged hacking by NDS Group, a British satellite TV company of which News Corp. owns 49 percent. According to the BBC and the Australian Financial Review, NDS hired hackers to break into its competitors’ systems and get codes for satellite TV cards to illegally leak them to the public, giving them pay-TV services for free. The New York Times knitted the two allegations together well.

The Australian Federal Police is now looking into the case, and Reuters reported on the growing pressure for new investigations against News Corp. in Britain and Australia. Meanwhile, Frontline aired a documentary on the scandal, and The Guardian reported on Rupert Murdoch’s attacks on the accusations on Twitter.

Mike Daisey, journalism, and advocacy: Interest in last week’s blowup over This American Life’s retraction of Mike Daisey’s fabricated story about abuses of Chinese factory workers turned out to be more intense than expected: As the Lab’s Andrew Phelps reported, the retraction was the most downloaded episode in TAL history, surpassing the previous record set by the original story. Daisey himself gave a much more thorough, less defensive apology this week, and Gawker’s Adrian Chen said he wished Daisey would have been so contrite in the first place.

In Current, Alicia Shepard examined the story from the perspective of Marketplace, the public radio program that exposed Daisey’s falsehoods. In a long, thoughtful post, Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard’s Berkman Center compared Daisey’s story to the Kony 2012 viral video, using them to pose some good questions about the space between journalism and advocacy.

Reading roundup: A few other interesting pieces that surfaced this week:

— A couple of pieces succinctly laying out some of the growing challenges for those trying to control online content and discourse: First, a piece in The Guardian by Michael Wolff on the trouble that the rise of mobile media poses for news business models, and second, a post by JP Rangaswami positing Africa as the next site of resistance against online media control.

— In a similar vein, GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram wrote about the ways in which the giants of tech are all moving in on the same territory of user data and control, arguing that the real challenge is getting users to care about whether we end up with an open or closed web.

— NYU j-prof Jay Rosen wrote an insightful piece on how journalists claim the authority to be listened to by the public: “I’m there, you’re not, let me tell you about it.”

— Finally, at Poynter, Matt Thompson put together an interesting typology of journalists: Storyteller, newshound, systems analyst, and provocateur. He’s got some great initial tips on how to work with each type, and play to each one’s strengths within a newsroom environment.

March 27 2012

14:00

How Media-Savvy Activists Report From the Front Lines in Syria

In Syria, many activists and citizen journalists fill a media void and contribute to the global conversation on the uprising there by capturing and sharing their own footage. They're organized, trained, smart, strategic, and promote media -- much of it mobile -- with a purpose.

banyas.jpg

Mass demonstrations and state violence continue in Syria. Authorities are largely banning foreign reporters and have arrested Syrian journalists and bloggers. Outside of the country, many news outlets that report on the major events there cite "Syrian activists" as the source of information. Day-to-day events in cities around the country come to our attention largely because of the activists and citizen journalists who are systematically providing information to news outlets worldwide.

Thus, perhaps the way the term "citizen journalism" has been used to date is a misnomer in the context of recent events in Syria, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain. Activists on the ground and online don't just happen to capture and record media because they're in the right place at the right time. Instead, they systematically gather, and strategically disseminate media.

It may be time for a new term -- "activist media" who are reporting from the front lines -- that describes the organized media campaigns waged by these activists in a place where traditional media is largely absent.

a media revolution

A report from Channel 4 News noted that a "a band of brand-new, out-of-nowhere, self-styled TV news reporters has sprung up in besieged Syrian cities," contributing to a media revolution. The article highlighted the video below, in which a video journalist from the Baba al-Sebaa area of Homs reported, all the while dodging bullets toward the end of the video.

But videos like these are more than just valuable content. They're part of a cogent global narrative from a well-informed and well-equipped group of activists who use mobile phones to live-stream, video record, Skype, and take photos in very strategic ways to provide witness and testimony to the events in Syria. They inform a public outside of the country, as well as reinforce activism in many areas within Syria, conveying the story of an opposition movement.

Most of the reporting is, of course, coming from the front lines. But organizations both in and outside of the country are offering support and training, with mainstream media outlets publishing and pushing citizen content to a larger global audience to help reinforce the narrative of the rebellion.

The media-savvy activists use a number of astute dissemination strategies: Photos and videos are shared across multiple platforms alongside additional text context or transcripts, and often have metadata such as time, date, and location stamps. Content is being uploaded hourly, and often live, on any number of social media sites, blogs and live-streaming video services like Bambuser. And where Internet or mobile network access are shut down, footage is collected and distributed via alternatives such as the old-fashioned sneakernet.

You can read the complete story here on the Mobile Media Toolkit. We highlight ways that activists and citizens are strategically capturing, crafting and sharing news, as well as the organizations that help support their work.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Syria-Frames-of-Freedom and licensed under Creative Commons. 

February 08 2012

22:03

Anonymous Hacks Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's email account

Mashable :: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been under fire from world leaders to step down this week. He’s also under fire from hacktivist group Anonymous, who leaked hundreds of his office’s emails on Monday. While Anonymous is infamous for its hacking know-how, it doesn’t take a genius computer programmer to guess one of the passwords commonly used by Assad’s office accounts: 12345. The string of consecutive numbers is the second-weakest password according to a 2011 study.

Continue to read Zoe Fox, mashable.com

December 31 2011

21:47

Filming Syrian security forces firing: citizen journalist Basil Al-Sayed is dead

NPR :: Basil al-Sayed, a Syrian citizen journalist, lost his life documenting the uprising in Homs. According to activist Rami Jarrah, yesterday, al-Sayed succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in the restive city of Homs. He was 24. 

"We have thousands of citizen journalists," Jarrah told NPR's Deb Amos. "But Basil was one of those who stood out." Activist Rami Jarrah said Basil al-Sayed filmed security forces opening fire directly at protesters, and that put him at serious risk. - Foreign journalists have been mostly banned from entering Syria. In many cases, the videos uploaded to YouTube by citizen journalists have been the only way for the outside world to see the clashes in Syria.

The YouTube video below reportedly shows Basil's mother and relatives weeping over the body of their son before he was laid to rest.

Continue to read and Basil's last video can be found here Ahmed Al Omran, www.npr.org

December 06 2011

20:59

abc News - Barbara Walters to interview Syria’s Al-Assad: "Did you give the order for the crackdown?"

Mediabistro | TVNewser :: In his first TV interview with an American outlet since the uprising began in his country earlier this year, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will speak to ABC’s Barbara Walters. Walters questioned Syria’s leader on the human rights violations the UN has said his government is committing, as well as the harsh treatment and crackdown of protestors. The interview will air across all of the ABC News platforms on Wednesday, December 7, including a special edition of “Nightline” dedicated solely to Syria.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Continue to read Alex Weprin, www.mediabistro.com

November 14 2011

21:32

Going undercover in Syria: a report from inside by Ramita Navai

Probably one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world right now: Syria. - A first hand experience report by Ramita Navai, Syria.

PBS Frontline :: In September, reporter Ramita Navai spent two weeks in some of the most dangerous parts of Syria on a clandestine journey into the heart of the uprising - undercover. In this reflection, she tells the story of how she and her producer broke Syria’s virtual ban on independent journalists and embedded with some of Syria’s most wanted activists.

[Ramita Navai:] ... The activists took every precaution to stay safe. Most of them had horrific footage of the badly tortured bodies of friends and colleagues as a permanent reminder on their cell phones. ... (the activists) preferred method of communication was Skype and Facebook — always accessing these sites using proxy servers to avoid being monitored — and within hours they could mobilize thousands.

Continue to read Ramita Navai, www.pbs.org

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