Dispatch 10/13: Government trolls, Crowdsourcing corporate cheats, Social media blackout and more

In collaboration with Mobilisation Lab, here is a recent roundup of grassroots-powered movement news from around the world. To receive the Mobilisation Lab Dispatch directly each week, please sign up here. If you have ideas for reports that should be in future Dispatches, please contact me here.

Crowdsourced tech –> the end of corporate scandals? Michael Shrage, commenting on Volkswagen’s recent “Diesel-gate” in Harvard Business Review, wonders whether increased vigilance from digital activists means companies won’t be able to cheat in the future. Shrage looks to a future in which activists, paired with devices that can track and verify data behind business claims, will force corporate transparency especially around hot-button issues such as pollution and climate change.

A tale of six trees (and collaborative tech). A fast-growing activist-driven campaign to save six iconic trees in Auckland needed to plug people in fast if they wanted to scale and succeed. In a story for MobLab, ActionStation’s Ryan Mearns shares his experience implementing Loomio as a way to help volunteers craft independent campaign actions.

How to stifle peaceful protest in the digital age. One year after the kickoff of the so-called Umbrella Revolution, a mass movement of civil disobedience in response to the Chinese government’s crackdown on Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms, Global Voices presents a chilling account of protest repression in the internet era.

Though Umbrella revolutionaries used networked technologies extensively to organise, state authorities responded through a concerted series of disruptive tactics including legal tactics to criminalize activist internet use, extensive content removal requests, intensive DDoS ‘cyber attacks’ on activist websites and paid anti-activist trolls who “flooded online forums, blogs and social media networks.”

On the brighter side, the New York Times interviews Hong Kong activists one year later and finds evidence of a lasting legacy of political hope and awareness among protesters and their peers in spite of the movement’s forced halt in December 2014.

Attention, data and saving lives. A recent Washington Post article reminds us that better integrating data and visuals with digital storytelling could help movements develop an ongoing narrative in light of the short attention span many people have for tragedies. The approach reminds us of the Mapping Police Violence project that successfully captured the reality of black deaths at the hands of U.S. police through a series of arresting infographics.

BLACKOUT. Dream Defenders, a US-based community and racial justice organising group, took a sabbatical from its professional and personal social media accounts to focus on building stronger relationships with in-person communications.

“When you’re on social media, you’re submersed in thousands of other people’s lives, thoughts and perspectives. What does that do for your own thinking, and your own ability to process, assesses what you believe in, and strategize for yourself and your people?” Rachel Gilmer of Dream Defenders told Waging Nonviolence. The full interview is a thoughtful read on social media campaigning.

Bump up your game. Social Movement Technologies hosts a free 90 minute training at 1pm Eastern on October 15th aimed at helping social change groups and organizing campaigns make the most of mobile, social media and more.

Bear eats kayakI suppose Periscope wasn’t an option. A long-distance sea kayaker in Alaska recently shared her encounter with a sea kayak eating bear on YouTube, an experience that nearly 4 million views later has shed light on our broken relationship with the nature.

Feature image by luvataciousskull

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