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China Makes Example of Bo Xilai on Social Media

China Makes Example of Bo Xilai on Social Media

Today in international tech news: The Chinese court overseeing the Bo Xilai trial details the proceedings online. Also: China arrests four people who used social media to diss a Chinese folk hero; the U.S. launches a Tumblr blog to explain and/or rationalize foreign data collection; Canada reiterates that it won't bail out BlackBerry; and a Dutch designer films what happens to a shipped package.

By David Vranicar
08/23/13 12:23 PM PT

China's Communist Party used Twitter-like social media platform Sina Weibo to report the details of the trial of Bo Xilai, a former Party star who is in the process of being taken down on corruption charges.

The court overseeing the case, located in the eastern city of Jinan, set up a Weibo account to peddle information about the proceedings. Such trials have traditionally been held in utmost secrecy in China, but the powers that be seem hell-bent on making an example of Bo, whose wife was convicted of murdering a British businessman.

The court's Weibo account, which quickly accumulated more than 300,000 followers, was rather unfettered in its description of the proceedings. The account quoted Bo saying, "I really saw the ugliness of a person who sold his soul," as he spoke of a prosecution witness.

[Source: The New York Times]

China Doing China Things to Citizens Posting on Social Media

Even as China's Communist Party put Sina Weibo to work for its own purposes, Chinese authorities arrested four people because of posts they made on the site.

The quartet is accused of spreading rumors that "incited dissatisfaction with the government," which is a no-no in China. The subject of their dastardly posts -- no word on whether or not the posts were actually dastardly -- was Lei Feng, a deceased Chinese soldier and Communist Party loyalist who is often portrayed heroically in China.

Sina Weibo has about 300 million users, although there is some question about how many of those are ghost accounts.

[Source: BBC]

US Launches Tumblr Blog to Explain Foreign Surveillance

The Office of the Director of National Security has launched a Tumblr blog to provide more information about "lawful foreign surveillance activities" executed by U.S. agencies.

The blog, "IC on the Record," will have official statements, declassified documents, fact sheets, videos, speeches and other content.

The blog was kicked off with a post from U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and has subsequently featured declassified documents pertaining to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.

Tumblr earlier this year was acquired by Yahoo, which is among the companies that U.S. authorities have hit up for data as part of their surveillance efforts.

[Sources: IC on the Record; The Guardian]

Canada Not Expected to Help Foundering BlackBerry

James Moore, Canada's industry minister, said that Canadian smartphone maker BlackBerry will have to pull itself out of its long and well-documented tailspin.

Moore, who was recently appointed, said that the company was a source of pride and added, "we hope that they do well." The government will not, however, be stepping in with assistance or a bailout, he said.

This is in line with previous sentiments from the Canadian government. In 2012, Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty said that the government would not assist BlackBerry the way it did with its beleaguered auto industry.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Dutch Designer Films Package Route

Ruben van der Vleuten, a Dutch designer, used a hidden camera, motion sensor and time circuit to record the trek taken by a package he mailed.

The camera started rolling when motion was detected, and would shut itself off if there was no movement for six seconds (it would take three seconds of video every stationary minute).

The video is available on his website.

[Source: Ruben van der Vleuten via Mashable]


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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