The Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. It originally appears each week on Global Voices Advocacy. Marianne Diaz, Weiping Li, Hae-in Lim, and Sarah Myers West contributed to this report.
Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, was arrested by Brazilian police for refusing to give WhatsApp data to law enforcement for a criminal investigation into drug trafficking. The move is an escalation in an ongoing battle between the company and Brazilian authorities. WhatsApp was suspended by a judge in Brazil for 48 hours in December over a similar refusal to hand over user data in a criminal case. As of March 2, Dzodan was set to be released following a statement by a higher judge who called the extreme measure of imprisonment “hurried.”
Meanwhile, Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed regulating social networks, because he believes “misinformation spread on them can topple governments.” Claiming social media debates influenced voters’ decisions on a recent referendum on whether he can seek re-election by amending the constitution, Morales said social networks “are wasting the values of new generations.”
And the Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Sina and Tencent to shut down the accounts of real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang, accusing Ren of “illegal messages with negative impact.” Many believe Ren is being punished for a comment he made questioning Chinese President Xi Jinping’s position that state-affiliated media should serve the Communist Party. Following the move, 580 more social media accounts were shut down by the CAC, including those of several celebrity bloggers, for “misleading the public” or “violating regulations.”
Facebook: Hate speech against migrants will not be tolerated
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told a group of students during a town hall in Berlin that the company needs to improve its measures to crack down on hate speech against migrants. The company has come under criticism by the German Ministry of Justice for its failure to police racist and anti-immigration posts as effectively as it does sexual imagery. Zuckerberg said there was “not a place for this kind of content on Facebook” and that German law and culture had led to a change in its approach to hate speech.
Shoddy design or surveillance by design?
Researchers at the Citizen Lab found that thousands of apps that run code produced by Chinese Internet company Baidu are collecting and transferring users’ personal data to the company, much of it in an insecure way. Citizen Lab director Ron Deibert called it “either shoddy design or it’s surveillance by design.”
Angry emojis flood Hong Kong leader’s Facebook page
Hong Kongers have quickly adapted to Facebook’s new “reactions” features, using the “angry” emoji to flood the Facebook page of their Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. Within hours of publishing a post, C.Y. Leung’s page was flooded with more than 54,000 angry emojis. The case reveals the limitations of only having a “like” function on the site. Until now, CY Leung’s page only featured likes and positive comments, but with the new emoticons, which can't be moderated by page owners, the negative nature of his fame has been unveiled, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.