The Listening Post

Syria: Keeping the story alive

Remote online activists battle censorship in Syria; and the growing trend of fake twitter accounts.

As the violence in Syria continues the mainstream media presence on the ground is becoming increasingly scarce. That is because the Assad regime is doing its best to contain the story by locking journalists up – or out of the country.

But – like in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya – there is still a reliable source of information coming out via social media. Yet unlike those countries, most of the videos, images and stories are being aggregated from outside of the country by a group of Syrian activists who have managed to circumvent the government’s crackdown on the media.

Our News Divide this week looks at one of the biggest existential threats to the Assad regime – the opposition news network that is being fed information from within the country and spreading it online.

Quick hits from the media world: Pakistan tries to stem the news coverage of bin Laden’s death by making life difficult for the media. Libyan activists turn to the courts to battle pro-Gaddafi propaganda on state-run TV. A Reuters journalist is given a week to leave Bahrain for his coverage of the pro-democracy demonstrations and two US-based Yiddish language publications doctor a photo of the White House’s Situation Room taken on the night bin Laden was killed.

The micro-blogging website twitter, has been around for nearly five years now. In that relatively short period, it is accrued hundreds of millions of users, has been instrumental in breaking news in countries where the media is tightly controlled and has got just about every celebrity, politician even corporation tweeting – whether it is them doing it or not.

Fake twitter accounts are a growing trend within this 140 character micro-blogging phenomenon. Twitter has said that impersonation violates its terms of service and that it takes the issue very seriously but there does not appear to be much the site can do about it. The Listening Post‘s Nick Muirhead looks at some of the fake twitter accounts that have been making waves recently and how some of them seem more real than the people they represent.

For our Internet Video of the Week we found a clip of a talented Obama impersonator putting all his acting, singing and dancing skills to work. His name is Iman Crosson and his satirical interpretation of the president’s speech on the night bin Laden was killed cuts through the usual diplomatic platitudes and delivers – what seems to be – a more honest and rhythmically tuned account of what happened.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.