Entries in Social Media (6)


Church of England Looks to Twitter for Leader

KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- The Church of England has been around since the 1530s, but leaders are turning to a modern means of communication to choose its new leader.

The UK Telegraph reports the church is using the social networking site Twitter to reach out to people all over the world to get feedback on who would be best to lead the church into the future. The Crown Nominations Commission will take names until May and eventually winnow down a list of possible successors to Dr. Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury.  

Williams announced earlier this month that he'll step down in December.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Shabaab Terror Group Picks Twitter Fight

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(MOGADISHU, Somalia) -- Taking a page out of the Taliban's playbook, al Qaeda's Somalia affiliate has now opened a Twitter account, and started an on-line war of words with its real world military foes.

Al Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate battling for control of Somalia, launched a Twitter account Thursday under the handle @HSMPress with tweets disparaging the abilities of the Kenyan and African Union troops it is now fighting.

"#KDF (Kenya Defense Forces): An Army without experience, clear strategy & objective is fragile to winds of resistance & slightest confrontation precipitates defeat," reads one tweet.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has attracted attention via a long-running Twitter battle with the NATO ISAF press office. The Taliban has a relatively sophisticated press and information operation, with a web presence and press releases and statements distributed to reporters via email and even text message.

Shabaab also seems to be increasing the sophistication of its propaganda war, having established a virtual press office that sends out English-language press releases to the international press corps. Now it may be rising to a Twitter battle challenge from the Kenyan military.

A KDF press officer has been tweeting since Kenyan troops entered neighboring Somalia in October. Using the hashtag #OperationLindaNichi and the handle @MajorEChichir, KDF Maj. E. Chichir has been tweeting both alleged victories and warnings to the local population. A few of his tweets have inspired ridicule, like the one warning Kenyans on the border not to sell donkeys to suspected Shabaab members, but he now has more than 10,000 followers.

So far @HSMPress, which uses the initials of al Shabaab's full name, the Harakat al-Shabaab al Mujahideen, has fewer than 1,000 followers. Whoever is tweeting for al Shabaab, however, seems to speak fluent, if stilted, English.

"#KDF envisaged a lightning invasion of #Somalia but the Blitzkrieg they'd hoped for became a thorny quagmire for the inexperienced soldiers," reads one.

Al Shabaab is known for recruiting militants from the English-speaking Somali diaspora. There have been at least four confirmed suicide bombings in the country carried out by Somali-American citizens. One of the group's top leaders, Omar Al-Hammami, hails from Alabama. African Union and Somali government officials say there are also Shabaab fighters from Canada, the United Kingdom and Sweden.

As in Afghanistan, behind the virtual war of words there is an actual physical fight for territory, a conflict that has intensified in the last few days. Mogadishu has experienced some of the heaviest fighting in months as Shabaab fighters clash with Somali government troops backed by the KDF. Witnesses report the use of heavy weaponry and casualties on both sides.

Via Twitter, Shabaab had a warning for the Kenyans.

"Military ineptitude, deteriorating economy, social imbalance, & public ambivalence trigger a desultory face-saving attempt by the #KDF: FLEE."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


London Riots Organized Through Social Media

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- As riots continue throughout London, British police have threatened to bring charges against those who use social media to incite looting and violence.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanaugh confirmed to UK media that officers were looking at Twitter as they investigated the riots, which began after the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the Tottenham section of North London on Thursday.

But some observers have noted that the social media that has really helped "organize" the looting is not Twitter or even Facebook, so central to uprisings throughout the Arab world earlier this year. Many of the teenagers running through London's streets are communicating by BlackBerry Messenger.

Just before Duggan died Thursday, he sent a final message to his girlfriend via BlackBerry Messenger, "The Feds are following me." Ever since, according to Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe, "While Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public BlackBerry BBM messaging network has been the method of choice for organizing it."

Butcher notes that BlackBerrys cost less than smartphones and that BBM is both essentially cost-free and invisible to police. In order to communicate, BBM users must exchange PINs, but their conversations are private. They can spread their PINs via SMS, Twitter or other means.

Blogger Jonathan Akwue said he didn't quite understand the appeal of BlackBerrys among London teens until his "far cooler 17-year-old nephew" explained that BBM was "the main reason for their popularity." The rioters seem to be as young as the BBM users. More than 200 alleged rioters have been arrested so far, and two-thirds of those for whom ages have been given are 21 or under.

Akwue was the first to note that BBM messages had been circulating since the Duggan shooting. "BBM was also the channel used to spread the word that the riot had started," wrote Akwue, "and from what I can tell on Twitter, it appears to be the means by which communications continue to be shared." Both Butcher and Akwue have archived reams of messages in which Londoners use Twitter to talk about BBM's role in the violence and looting, and even to offer to retweet BBM pins.

"Sending out BBM broadcasts about linking ukp at 4 pm to cause more havoc," writes one tweeter. Another says, ":o jd sports Tottenham hale just got robbed go on bbm to see da pics!" Another writes, "People had in their bbm status 'Going Tottenham riot, who's on it" like it was a casual street party. A fourth said, "According to my bbm, now something's starting in wood green."

Most telling perhaps are tweets that say, "BBM Where Ma News of Da Day Comes From" and "The news ain't even showing the extent of what's actually happening on the streets of tottenham? BBM is doing da ting right now!"

"Technology is ruining us," concludes tweeter Jessica Kennedy. "Bare man organizing riots over bbm."

Research in Motion, the manufacturer of BlackBerry, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ABC News. RIM's Patrick Spence, managing director of global sales and regional marketing, issued a statement saying, "We feel for those impacted by this weekend's riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can. As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Social Media Sites Blocked in Belarus on Independence Day

John Foxx/Stockbyte(MINSK, Belarus) -- Demonstrators in Belarus who were planning to use the internet to organize Independence Day protests came upon an obstacle Sunday, as the country reportedly blocked access to certain social networking websites.

Activists planned on staging an anti-government protest on Sunday in the form of clapping when President Alexander Lukashenko began delivering his Independence Day speech at the country’s independence celebrations.

Despite the online obstacle, some protestors gathered in the capital Minsk, on Sunday, to engage in protests, however, security forces acted swiftly and arrested several demonstrators.

Lukashenko described the protests as being a move to overthrow his government, according to published reports.

In a statement Friday the Belarus president said, “stomping, clapping, bellowing and roaring on squares and streets cannot solve problems and, what matters most, cannot earn money.”

July 3 marks the anniversary of the end of Nazi rule in Minsk, which ended in 1944.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Egyptian Names Baby 'Facebook' For Site's Role in Revolution

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAIRO) -- Looking for a name for their newborn daughter that celebrated the recent events in Egypt, an Alexandria couple skipped calling her "Tahrir Square" for something a little more trendy -- Facebook.

Baby Facebook's father, Jamal Ibrahim, told Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper that he "wanted to express his gratitude about the victories the youth of Jan. 25 have achieved and chose to express it in the form of naming his firstborn girl," according to a translation by the blog TechCrunch.

Social media played an integral part in coordinating three weeks of protests that ended in the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, after three decades in power.

The Egyptian government quickly realized the power of the Internet in fomenting revolution and shut down access across the country. Soon after the protests began on Jan. 25, Wael Ghonim, a Google executive and founder of the country's preeminent dissident Facebook page, was arrested.

The page became a digital Tahrir Square, a central meeting places where protesters could plan and disseminate information about where to meet in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other Egyptian cities.

Facebook, along with Twitter, Google, and YouTube were all used by protesters to organize and broadcast news and images from the ground.

Earlier this month, Facebook reported having 5 million users in Egypt with 32,000 groups and 14,000 pages created in the two weeks after Jan. 25, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The new military government has also discovered the power of Facebook and recently set up a page for the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Social Media Fuels Protests in Iran, Bahrain and Yemen

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANAMA, Bahrain) -- More than 10,000 protesters swarmed the Main Square in the capital of Bahrain Tuesday, one of the largest political demonstrations ever seen in this nation's recent history. And a protester was killed by police when a funeral procession for another protester killed Monday escalated into new clashes.

In Iran, after the biggest mass protest since the 2009 elections, members of Parliament gathered for a deadly chant, shouting that key opposition leaders "must be executed."

And in Yemen there was a fifth straight day of uprisings, with demonstrators calling for the ouster of the authoritarian president.

Behind all this was the power of the Internet, with protesters galvanized by a social media revolution.

Despite the attempts of governments to block it, a Facebook page calling for "solidarity demonstrations" is creating a cyber wildfire. Hundreds of hits on the website, turning into thousands, turning into upwards of 12 million -- 90 percent coming from Iran.

The call is specific: "We encourage you to join the thousands on the street right now," the page says.

The call spread through cell phones, smart phones and through people like Internet activist Omid Memarian outside Iran.

"I think this time the [Iranian] government really underestimated the power of social media," Memarian said. "They thought because of the severe crackdown that we witnessed after the election that people would not dare to go to the streets."

In Bahrain, which is home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, protesters photographed the funeral of a demonstrator, and had it on YouTube instantly, inspiring even more to join the call for democracy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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