The CSS Blog Network

“The Response Ulrich Beck Would Have Liked to Hear”

Artistic depiction of New York City. Image: Werner Kunz/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) in the 297th Edition of Opinión on 20 January, 2015.

The death of Ulrich Beck leaves us bereft of that always lucid, special perspective found in each of his articles or in the new publication that arrived on just the day that, for the umpteenth time, we were doubting our own theories or missing someone to lend a hand and help us understand the world. For Beck, as a sociologist, what happened in the world was what happened between people and groups, making “globalised patchwork generations” of their hopes and dreams, their fears, disappointments and frustrations. » More

How Social Networks Are Dealing With Terrorists

Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr

Morocco dismantles terror recruitment cell, photo: Magharebia/flickr

At the end of January, Twitter suspended the account of the Somali-based Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The account was taken offline after the group posted a video on Twitter threatening to kill two Kenyan hostages unless the Kenyan government met its demands.

Twitter didn’t comment on the account deletion, but social-media experts reasoned that Al-Shabaab had violated Twitter’s terms of service, which prohibit direct threats of violence.

It is a pattern that has become increasingly familiar. A Facebook or Twitter account affiliated or run by a terrorist organization is thrown into the spotlight, activists and the media buzz about it, it is suspended by the social network — and then later a new account emerges.

As terrorist groups seek to reach a broader global audience, their migration onto social networks has proven to be a challenge for the likes of Twitter and Facebook. While governments want social networks to clamp down on terrorist groups, Internet activists are calling for greater transparency into social-media companies’ rules and regulations. » More

Development at What Cost? New Conflict Over Bolivia’s TIPNIS Road

TIPNIS march arrives in La Paz in October 2011. By Szymon Kochański on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A proposed road project in Bolivia that plans to cross right through the middle of Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro Sécure (TIPNIS) is once again generating conflict and protest. Indigenous organizations, TIPNIS inhabitants and their supporters began a new long march on April 27, 2012 from Trinidad to La Paz demanding an end to the road project.

Plans for the 306 kilometer road are the result of an $415 million agreement signed by the Presidents of Bolivia and Brazil in August 2009. The Brazilian company OAS was initially awarded a turnkey contract to build the road in 40 months with financing from the Brazilian National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).

In October 2011, after a large march of indigenous peoples and protestors arrived in La Paz, President Evo Morales passed a bill declaring the TIPNIS “intangible” or “untouchable”, which was understood by environmental campaigners and indigenous organizations as the final word on the issue. » More

The Flip-side of Facebook

Screenshot of Facebook WorldIn the wake of the news that a Russian investment company had coughed up $200 million for a 2 percent stake in Facebook (and yes, that amounts to an estimated $10 billion value for the whole thing), and that Facebook itself had reached the coveted 200 million user mark (making it the 5th largest “country” in the world, no less), I thought it appropriate to have a look at how it is being used in the world beyond the college dorm and my living room.

For to think that Facebook is only good for easy messaging, picture-sharing and spying (and yes, even self-discovery through such wonderfully insightful tests as ‘Which city would you be?’) would be a grave mistake indeed. Outside the world of highspeed broadband-lines and trendy presidential campaigns, Facebook is attracting more and more users from the fringes of the social-networking-society; from unexpected sources and people who cannot organize or interact on more traditional forums. It even has the Pope involved (but that’s a whole different story).

I present to you the flip-side of Facebook.

» More