News Roundup Archive

Thursday, February 26, 2015

PeaceTech News Roundup


United States Institute of Peace


PeaceTech Roundup
Weekly News Highlights, February 20-26, 2015


Technology, Science and Data

Media and Social Media

Segregation Kills: How Social Media Fuels Violence In African States
It seems plausible that the segregated nature of social communication technologies will function to weaken economies of scale in the marketplace of ideas, making it easier for smaller-scale producers to succeed in promoting radicalized justifications for collective violence, even in the face of counter-narratives promoting unity and stability.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 2/25/15, T. Camber Warren)
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Veteran Correspondents Urge Early-Career Journalists To Look Beyond Conflict
Sebastian Junger offered a cautionary tale to aspiring journalists about the unprecedented peril of reporting in the field these days and the toll it has taken on a generation of correspondents. The award-winning journalist and author shared why, after years of reporting on dangerous assignments, he has decided to no longer cover conflict in the wake of the death of his close friend and colleague Tim Hetherington, a photographer and filmmaker who was killed in Libya in 2011.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 2/24/15, Charles M. Sennott)
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Can We Win the War Against ISIS By Focusing On Social Media?
ISIS's messaging operations online has eclipsed its military operations on the ground. ISIS may be the harbinger of a new age in which conflict spills over into virtual clashes, but it will not be the last social media battlefield. Other extremist groups will learn from its model, and some states are already deploying virtual legions to spread misinformation and manipulate political outcomes in conflicts around the world.
See the full article (Huffington Post, 2/24/15, J.M. Berger)
Click to read, "Countering Extremist Violence: Local Activists Are Already Doing the Job" an Olive Branch post by Viola Gienger.
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Islamic State Uses Social Media To Groom British Muslim Girls: Think Tank
Islamic State is using social media and the promise of adventure to lure British Muslim girls to join its cause. Three friends, two aged 15 and one 16, left their east London homes last week and caught a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul without telling their families as police attempt to trace them as they are believed to be heading to Syria. There had been a concerted effort from Islamic State to use websites like Twitter, and Facebook to groom young girls into believing they have a moral duty and obligation to join the militant group.
See the full article (Reuters, 2/23/15, Kieran Guilbert)
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Why Journalists Are Struggling To Cover Libya
The crisis in Libya seized world media attention again this month after self-declared Islamic State militants released a video showing the execution of 21 hostages. Local journalists face threats and violence. The small corps of international journalists covering Libya now often do so from Tunisia and Egypt, occasionally making short trips. The dangers of reporting there, and massive crises elsewhere in the region, mean that Libya has been overshadowed in the international press since the demise of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
See the full article (Columbia Journalism Review, 2/23/15, Jared Malsin)
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Boko Haram: Changing Media Strategy For A Wider Conflict?
From grainy, amateurish footage and rambling, almost inaudible speeches to slick, expertly edited productions, Boko Haram's media strategy has undergone a transformation in recent months. The Nigerian militants this week published two videos that contrasted starkly with earlier efforts, using visual cues and a style resembling similar messages from the Islamic State jihadists. The marked change in both the form and content of the propaganda has led some to speculate on possible closer ties with the rebels in Syria and Iraq and whether an alliance could be forming.
See the full article (Yahoo, 2/20/15, Phil Hazlewood)
Click to read "What's Behind Latest Nigeria Attacks by Boko Haram?" an Olive Branch post by Liz Harper.
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The U.S. Wants To Attack ISIS On Social Media, But It Probably Isn't Going To Work
August, blunting its momentum and turning the tide on its rapid advances on battlefields in Syria and Iraq. But in a different campaign, one being waged on social media, the U.S. is months - perhaps years - behind. This week, the U.S. government announced preparations to beef up its online campaign against extremist groups.
See the full article (Fusion, 2/20/15, Brett LoGiurato)
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Featured Story from the USIP Foreign Policy Peace Channel

Suffocating Congo's War by John Prendergast, Sasha Lezhnev, and Lauren Wolfe
Rules imposed by Dodd-Frank are cutting off a critical source of funding for armed groups that have plagued the country for more than 20 years. Today, several major armed groups are significantly weaker in eastern Congo, and many fewer mines under the control of armed groups. On the ground in Congo, this has meant a shrunken market for traders who previously sold minerals from mines controlled by armed groups.
See the full article

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Technology, Science and Data

When Internet Access Becomes A Weapon
Social Media has rightly been celebrated as an empowering tool for ordinary citizens to mobilize against repressive rulers, and make marginalized voices heard. But a crucial question remains unanswered: why should power-hungry states, with de facto control over access to the Internet, impassively concede to defeat? The simple answer is: they do not.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 2/24/15, Anita Gohdes)
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How The Military Will Fight ISIS On The Dark Web
New evidence suggests that the ISIS, or at least ISIS supporting groups, are seeking the Dark Web's anonymity for operations beyond simple propaganda. Thus yet another challenge for law enforcement and the military: to track users on the Dark Web in a way that's effective against ISIS but that doesn't violate privacy. A new report from the Chertoff Group illustrates some of the ways that the national security community will be keeping tabs on those who have taken steps to make themselves untraceable online.
See the full article (Defense One, 2/24/15, Patrick Tucker)
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Paving The Road To Democracy Or Unleashing Big Brother? The Internet Under Dictatorships
What are the political consequences of allowing people living in dictatorships Internet access? This question has been hotly debated in recent years and for good reason. Access to the Internet fundamentally changes the way people obtain information and communicate with each other. Since authoritarian governments rely on controlling the information flow and restrictions on communication to stay in power, the introduction and proliferation of Internet access could either present a severe challenge to the foundations of their rule, or a promising opportunity to maintain and perhaps strengthen their grip on power.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 2/24/15, Espen Geelmuyden Rød)
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U.N. Panel Urges Increased Use Of Drones In Peacekeeping Missions
A United Nations panel assessing the future technological needs of peacekeeping missions has recommended dramatically expanding the use of unmanned surveillance drones in U.N. military operations. Jane Holl Lute, who was previously U.S. deputy secretary for Homeland Security and a senior U.N. peacekeeping official, said that was one of 119 recommendations the expert panel on technology and innovation in U.N. peacekeeping made in a new report. Lute noted that the panel had also recommended heightened cyber security measures at peacekeeping missions, as well as the increased use of "green" technology.
See the full article (Reuters, 2/23/15, Louis Charbonneau)
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Dial ICT For Conflict? Four Lessons On Conflict And Contention In The Info Age
What role does ICT play in shaping conflict and violence within and across countries? Does the introduction of new technologies empower activists and rebels, or only further reinforce the grip of autocratic leaders over their societies? At the end of the day, do cellphones and other platforms cause violence? Seventeen scholars were invited to explore these and related questions for a newly published special issue of the Journal of Peace Research.
See the full article (The Washington Post, 2/23/15, Jason Lyall, Nils B. Weidmann and Allan Dafoe)
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