The revolution of microblogs and opinion aggregators and the faster dissemination of news and information that results, combined with the growing use of mobile phones to livestream video, are all increasing the possibilities of freeing information from its straightjacket. The mixing of journalism and activism has been accentuated in extreme situations such as Syria, where ordinary citizens, appalled by the bloodshed, are systematically gathering information for dissemination abroad, especially by the international news media, so the outside world knows about the scale of the brutal crackdown taking place.
Even the total news and information blackout in North Korea, the “Hermit Kingdom,” is being challenged. Mobile phones give those who live near the Chinese border the possibility of being linked to the rest of the world. And the border is sufficiently porous to allow mobile phones, CDs, DVDs and USB flash drives containing articles and other content to be smuggled in from China.
In Turkmenistan, an “Information 2.0” war was started by a deadly explosion at an arms depot in the Ashgabat suburb of Abadan in July 2011. For the first time, netizens managed to break through the regime’s wall of silence by using their mobile phones to film video of the explosion and its aftermath and post it online. They subsequently paid a high price.
Saudi Arabia’s relentless censorship has not been able to prevent women from fighting for the right to drive or vote and getting their fight relayed on the Internet, attracting the international community’s attention and, as a result, a degree of attention within the country.