Image Courtesy of the Author

The story that follows is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), whose working conclusion is that the riots that occurred on September 11th and 12th, 2011, taking  seven lives and causing 65 injuries on the small island of Ambon, Indonesia, may have been intentionally provoked by certain parties through text message rumors.

 

Despite a slow and ineffective response by police on the ground, the violence did not engulf the entire island.  Some say that the riots were contained by efforts in the same vessel through which they were spread: text messages and virtual social networks.

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Last month, the government of Sudan declared a “cyber-jihad” against youth groups and other anti-government organizations organizing protests in that country. Responding harshly to earlier protests with beatings and arrests, the government of Sudan has now turned its attention to cyberspace with teams managing what the Government calls “online defense operations.” Internet agents infiltrated organizers’ websites in an attempt to determine the identities of leading activists. The result: their Facebook accounts and phone networks compromised, activists spent upwards of 12 days in jail and were subject to the brutality of security forces. Though many have been released, they are now wary of utilizing almost any organizational strategy involving telecommunications. (more…)