Научная статья на тему 'Social media, cyber-dissent, and constraints on online political communication in Central Asia'

Social media, cyber-dissent, and constraints on online political communication in Central Asia Текст научной статьи по специальности «СМИ (медиа) и массовые коммуникации»

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INTERNET / SOCIAL MEDIA / CENTRAL ASIA / KAZAKHSTAN / KYRGYZSTAN / TAJIKISTAN / TURKMENISTAN / UZBEKISTAN / PRESS FREEDOM INDICATORS / NEW MEDIA

Аннотация научной статьи по СМИ (медиа) и массовым коммуникациям, автор научной работы — Bowe Brian, Freedman Eric, Blom Robin

Recent world events have demonstrated that the Internet-and social media tools in particular-are increasingly useful for political organizing, not merely frivolous virtual spaces for youthful publics to connect socially. Rather, social media is touted as "the crucible in which repressed civil societies can revive and develop." For the people of Central Asia-where free expression is curtailed and news outlets are under official or non-state, non-official government censorship-information and communication technology (ICT) provides an increasingly important vehicle for political expression. Blogging and social media tools may fulfill a crucial role for non-journalists and oppositional groups that journalism serves in more democratic societies, as recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran illustrate. In earlier eras, the costs associated with traditional or legacy media necessarily limited participation to small groups of elites. Now, the relative lack of entry costs in the online world raises the prospects for mass publics to bypass those traditional gatekeepers and become publishers and broadcasters on their own. ICTs have "had clear roles in both starting new democratic processes in some countries and entrenching them in others," Howard noted. However, the libertarian possibilities of increased freedom facilitated by ICT access have a dark reality, as repressitarian governments adapt to the Internet age by exerting power over the Internet's infrastructure and using activist communications for surveillance purposes. This paper reviews recent events and legal developments related to the Internet and social media in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. They include legislation extending libel laws to online communications, blocking of oppositional and independent websites, and punishing journalists who report or comment for online media.

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Текст научной работы на тему «Social media, cyber-dissent, and constraints on online political communication in Central Asia»

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SOCIAL MEDIA, CYBER-DISSENT, AND CONSTRAINTS ON ONLINE POLITICAL COMMUNICATION IN CENTRAL ASIA

Brian J. BOWE

Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Communications, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior Hall (Allendale, U.S.)

Eric FREEDMAN

Associate Professor of Journalism & Associate Dean of International Studies & Programs, Michigan State University (East Lansing, U.S.)

Robin BLOM

Ph.D. Candidate, Media and Information Studies, Michigan State University (East Lansing, U.S.)

Introduction

Recent world events have demonstrated that the Internet—and social media tools in particular—are increasingly useful for polit-

ical organizing, not merely frivolous virtual spaces for youthful publics to connect socially. Rather, social media is touted as "the crucible in which

repressed civil societies can revive and develop."1 For the people of Central Asia—where free expression is curtailed and news outlets are under official or non-state, non-official government censorship—information and communication technology (ICT) provides an increasingly important vehicle for political expression. Blogging and social media tools may fulfill a crucial role for non-journalists and oppositional groups that journalism serves in more democratic societies, as recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran illustrate.

In earlier eras, the costs associated with traditional or legacy media necessarily limited participation to small groups of elites. Now, the relative lack of entry costs in the online world raises the prospects for mass publics to bypass those traditional gatekeepers and become publishers and broadcasters on their own.2 ICTs have "had

1 L. Morillon, J. Julliard, "Enemies of the Internet: Web 2.0 versus Control 2.0," Reporters without Borders, available at [http://www.rsf.org/ennemis.html], 2010, p. 2.

2 See: A. Puddephatt, "Freedom of Expression Rights in the Digital Age. Mapping Digital Media: Reference Series

clear roles in both starting new democratic processes in some countries and entrenching them in others," Howard noted.3 However, the libertarian possibilities of increased freedom facilitated by ICT access have a dark reality, as repres-sitarian governments adapt to the Internet age by exerting power over the Internet's infrastructure and using activist communications for surveillance purposes.4

This paper reviews recent events and legal developments related to the Internet and social media in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. They include legislation extending libel laws to online communications, blocking of oppositional and independent websites, and punishing journalists who report or comment for online media.

No. 6," Open Society Media Program, London, 2011, available at [www.mappingdigitalmedia.org].

3 P. Howard, The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam, Oxford University Press, New York, 2010.

4 See: E. Morozov, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, Public Affairs, New York, 2011.

Post-Soviet Repression in Central Asia

A well-established function ofjournalism in civil society is to furnish citizens with the free flow of reliable information they require to be free and self-governing.5 This function is a necessary part of any discussion of the changes to the media environment wrought by increased access to ICT.6 Yet two decades after their independence from the Soviet Union, the five Central Asian republics remain bastions of official and extra-legal censorship, self-censorship, constraints on journalists and news organizations, and insufficient financial resources to support independent, and sustainable, market-based press systems. These constraints prevent the development and operation of press systems that could contribute to more honest and transparent governance, build trust in the press' credibility, promote pluralistic political systems, and promote the dissemination and critique of information and news that advances human rights and national development.7

5 See: B. Kovach, T. Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism, Three Rivers Press, New York, 2007.

6 See: A. Puddephatt, op. cit.

7 See: M.E. Price, "Press Freedom Measures: An Introduction," in: Measures of Press Freedom and Media Contributions to Development: Evaluating the Evaluators, ed. by M.E. Price, S. Abbott, L. Morgan, Peter Lang, New York, 2011, pp. 1-19.; R. Shafer, E. Freedman, "Press Constraints as Obstacles to Establishing Civil Societies in Central Asia," Journalism Studies, No. 10 (6), 2009, pp. 851-869.

In the face of what Shafer and Freedman describe as "the bleak press rights territory of postSoviet Central Asia.. .,"s all five nations' constitutions9 include press freedom provisions that are not enforced. The press systems vary in such components as proportion of non-state media outlets, journalist salaries, and the structure of government agencies that regulate the media. However, their shared

Table 1

Press Freedom Indicators in Central Asia

(The annual Media Sustainability Index from the International Research & Exchanges Board assesses the state of national media systems, both traditional and new media, based principally on input from local journalists and press observers)

8 R. Shafer, E. Freedman, op. cit.

9 For example, Art 20 of the Kazakhstan Constitution promises: "The freedom of speech and creative activities shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freely receive and disseminate information by any means not prohibited by law." However, it also includes this broadly worded exclusion: "3. Propaganda of or agitation for the forcible change of the constitutional system, violation of the integrity of the Republic, undermining of state security, and advocating war, social, racial, national, religious, class and clannish superiority as well as the cult of cruelty and violence shall not be allowed" (Constitution of Kazakhstan (2007), available at [www.kazakhstan.orexca.com/ kazakhstan_constitution.shtml]).

characteristics enable policymakers, researchers, and foreign funders to examine the media environment on regional and nation-by-nation bases.

Since independence, these nations have been governed by regimes that can be classified as re-pressitarian—"meaning both authoritarian in governance and repressive in human rights practices."10 There have been no pluralistic or democratic replacements yet in Central Asia for the Soviet press model. We attribute that absence to several factors, particularly "the perpetuation of authoritarianism by regimes more committed to self-survival and self-aggrandizement than to effectively guiding and encouraging the press to advance economic and social development and participatory governance."11 In addition, efforts by Western funders to build democratic press systems through professional training, university-level journalism education, and subsidies to fledgling independent media outlets have fallen short, in part because of the region's history, economics, cultural traditions, national rivalries, and power politics.

The Media Sustainability Index12 published by the U.S.-based International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) highlights reasons (see Table 1) why a dramatic expansion of press freedom appears unlikely at this time. Another U.S.-based NGO, Freedom House,13 ranks all five press systems as "not free." Press rights defender and advocacy groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), and the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations regularly criticize the regimes for their anti-press policies and actions. So do foreign government and multinational agencies such as the U.S. State Department and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Representative on Freedom of the Media.

This lack of press freedom extends to the online realm, and the regimes' overt hostility to traditional broadcast and print media now encompass new media. However, there are economic reasons why some regimes find themselves moderating their crackdowns on the Web. As Morozov noted: "Authoritarian regimes in Central Asia ... have been actively promoting a host of e-government initiatives. But the reason why they pursue such modernization is not because they want to shorten the distance between the citizen and the bureaucrat but because they see it as a way to attract funds from foreign donors (the likes of the IMF and the World Bank) while also removing the unnecessary red-tape barriers to economic growth."14

New Media under Attack

Access to the Internet (see Table 2) varies tremendously among the Central Asian countries, from 1.6 percent to 39.3 percent of the population, as does the number of Facebook users.15 However, access alone is too rough an indicator of the power or potential power of the Web to advance grassroots political activism and pressure for changes within—or of—these regimes. Importantly, such data do not show the amount of time users are online and how they use that time. Do they send email, play games, watch pornographic movies, read opposition or foreign news sites, read government sites,

10 E. Freedman, R. Shafer, S. Antonova, "Two Decades of Repression: The Persistence of Authoritarian Controls on the Mass Media in Central Asia," Central Asia and the Caucasus, Vol. 11, Issue 4, 2010, p. 95.

11 R. Shafer, E. Freedman, "In Need of Defenders: Imperiled Press Rights in Post-Soviet Central Asia and the Role of Media Watch and Media Advocacy Organizations," Paper presented to the International Association for Media and Communication Research, Istanbul, 2011.

12 Media Sustainability Index 2011: Development of Sustainable Independent Media in Europe and Eurasia, International Research & Exchanges Board, Washington, D.C., 2011.

13 See: "Freedom on the Net," Freedom House, 2011, available at [www.freedomhouse.org].

14 E. Morozov, op. cit., p. 87.

15 See: "Internet World Stats," 2011, available at [www.internetworldstats.com].

Table 2

Internet Penetration Rate and Number of Facebook Users in Central Asia as of 30 June, 2011

download photos, or blog, for instance? To what degree does government blocking of sites affect their use? And do they use the Internet at home, where there is at least an appearance of privacy, or in public places such as cybercafes and at work?

Dutton et al. observed: "Over the first decade of the 21st century, the Internet and its convergence with mobile communications has enabled greater access to information and communication resources. In 2010, nearly 2 billion people worldwide—over one quarter of the world's population— use[d] the Internet. However, during the same period, defenders of digital rights have raised growing concerns over how legal and regulatory trends might be constraining online freedom of expression."16

Events around the globe, including Egypt, the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus, Iran, China, and Syria, show the variety of ways that repressitarian regimes use laws and technology to block online and social media venues for political dissent, expression, advocacy, and organization. RSF17 places Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on its roster of top-ten enemies of the Internet.

A report on Internet freedom by Reporters sans Frontières observed: "The year 2010 firmly established the role of social networks and the Internet as mobilization and news transmission tools. In 2010 alone, 250 million Internet users joined Facebook and by the end of the year, the social network had 600 million members. In September that year, 175 million people were Twitter users—100 million more than in the previous year."18

Recent Developments

Recent events have drawn attention to an Internet freedom crisis in Central Asia—events that we summarize in this section of the paper. To illustrate, bloggers in Kazakhstan say a July 2011 decision by KazTeleCom to block domestic access to the open source publishing platform and blogging tool WordPress—for the third time—was politically motivated; the country's principal ISP acted af-

16 W.H. Dutton, A. Dopatka, M. Hills, G. Law, V. Nash, Freedom of Connection, Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford, U.K., 2011, p. 45.

17 See: L. Morillon, J. Julliard, op. cit.

18 Ibid., p. 4.

ter a court banned two WordPress blogs as "illegal" earlier in the year.19 The blockage ended about two weeks later.20 Also in Kazakhstan in 2011, a new website called Guljan suffered a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack with hits from about 10,000 IP addresses in and out of the country; the cyberattack forced the website to close for a week.21

The U.S. Department of State22 has reported about the expansion of restraints on new media. For example, it described how a deputy cabinet minister in Kazakhstan ordered Internet providers to block five independent news sites. Its report also described how a Kazakhstani official suggested that a correspondent for Internet portal Stan.TV not cover a protest demonstration, threatening that she would be arrested; the official later threatened to sue her for libel. On a higher level, the Kazakh Information and Communication Agency established the "Service to React to Computer Incidents;" the agency's head said it was compiling blacklists of "destructive" websites."23

The Internet's potential as a political organizing tool was underscored in 2009, when Freedom House issued its initial report on Internet freedom, covering fifteen countries but none in Central Asia. Its second Freedom on the Net report expanded to thirty-seven countries, including Kazakhstan, which was rated as "partly free" as to the Internet. The report also emphasized the interaction between constraints to maintain the regime's power and the countervailing goal of building the country's telecommunications industry: "Kazakhstan's government has sought to make the [I]nternet a new source of economic strength and build the country into the information-technology hub of Central Asia. With that goal in mind, the government has made modest efforts to liberalize the telecommunications sector, promote internet usage, and enhance the internet portals of state entities. At the same time, the authorities also attempt to control citizens' access to information and apparently fear the Internet's democratizing potential. In recent years, the government has blocked a popular blog-hosting platform and passed several pieces of legislation that restrict free expression online, particularly on topics that are deemed threatening to President Nursultan Nazarbaev's power and reputation."24

Meanwhile, use of mobile communication devices is rapidly growing in the region. By 2009, Kazakhstan had almost 15 million users, with mobile-phone penetration at about 95 percent; Internet access through mobile devices also grew, but that penetration rate was a much lower 7 percent in 2010.25 Statistics show mobile cellular subscription rates per 100 inhabitants ranging from 63.42 in Turkmenistan to 106.99 in Kazakhstan; the other three countries had rates of more than 75.26

Turning to the situation in Kyrgyzstan, its government temporarily blocked access to independent Internet news sites and print media during several days of violence in Bishkek.27

It is too soon to gauge whether journalists' rights and media independence will improve significantly in Kyrgyzstan after its second grassroots-driven change of governments and its constitutional transition in 2010 from a presidential to a parliamentary system. However, practices of the interim

19 See: "Kazakh Bloggers Say Blockage of Blog Website for 'Political Reasons,'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 July, 2011, available at [www.rferl.org/articleprintview/24264250.html].

20 See: C. Schwartz, "Kazakh Blog Ban Demonstrates Complexity of Digital Free Speech," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 25 July, 2011, available at [www.rferl.org/content/transmission_kazakh_blog_ban_shows_complexity_of_digital_ free_speech/24275964.html].

21 See: J. Lillis, "Kazakhstan: Is State-Sponsored Hacking Curbing Internet Freedom?" EurasiaNet.org, 2011, available at [www.eurasianet.org/node/63987].

22 See: 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, U.S. Department of State, 2011, available at [www.state. gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2010/index.htm].

23 "Freedom on the Net."

24 Ibidem.

25 See: Ibidem.

26 See: "Mobile Cellular Subscriptions per 100 Inhabitants," International Telecommunications Union, 2011, available at [www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics].

27 See: 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

government, including the arrests of journalists, raise serious questions about the degree of liberalization that can be realistically expected. As EurasiaNet.org reported: "Recent developments in Kyrgyzstan are displaying the dark side of a free press... A few journalists have made commendable efforts to fulfill the traditional watchdog function of a free press. But such bright spots are being marred by a rise in chauvinistic and racist rhetoric in the Kyrgyz-language press, along with recent violent attacks against journalists."28 CPJ said interim President Roza Otunbaeva "talks all the right talk about the importance of democracy and the rule of law, but de facto, what's happening with the press ... right now, particularly in the south,29 is despicable:" Television stations were destroyed, ethnic Uzbek television journalists were evicted, and the main television station was forcibly sold to an ethnic Kyrgyz.30

The situation in Tajikistan was described by Kohlmeier and Nekbakhtshoev,31 who wrote about the extension of libel laws to new media; the country also has closed websites that "undermined the state's policies." Their study cites the government's proffered justifications, including "information security," which is similar to—but broader than—legal provisions guarding state secrets, as well as improving journalists' professionalism by making them "think about the consequences of their actions before they do anything"—an approach that encourages self-censorship. Violators face fines and jail.

In Turkmenistan, the website of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights, headquartered in Vienna, was hacked and made inaccessible for several days in the fall of 2010. That happened soon after the president ordered the National Security Ministry to accelerate its actions against "those who disseminate slanderous information about Turkmenistan's democratic, law-based secular state."32

Another scholar33 explored the future of Internet media in Uzbekistan, whose government maintains the region's most extensive and intrusive state-mandated filtering system and where websites must register as mass media. Connectivity and infrastructure have improved, but strict controls impair wider access and use. Websites of human rights organizations and exiled opposition political parties are permanently filtered and blocked. Even without an official censorship agency, the government monitors mass communications, collects and analyzes the content of information products disseminated by individuals and legal entities, and issues warnings to the media.

A 2009 study by the OpenNet Initiative assessed the degree of government filtering of political, social, and security websites globally. In Central Asia, it reported: an overall high level—defined as "pervasive"—of filtering in Uzbekistan; medium—"defined as substantial"—in Turkmenistan, and low—defined as "selective"—in the other three countries.34

Contributors to Internet-based publications have been imprisoned. CPJ identified several who were behind bars in late December 2010.35 In Uzbekistan, Dzhamshid Karimov, who freelanced for the UK-based Institute for War & Peace Reporting and for online and independent publications, was in long-term, forced psychiatric confinement; Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, a reporter for the independent

28 A. Khamidov, "Kyrgyzstan: A Free Press Begets Hate Speech," EurasiaNet.org, 12 May, 2011, available at [http:/ /www.eurasianet.org/node/63473].

29 The Ferghana Valley in southern Kyrgyzstan was the site of deadly clashes in 2010 between ethnic Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz. Ethnic tensions remain high in the region.

30 N. Ognianova, Interview with E. Freedman and R. Shafer, New York City, 11 March, 2011).

31 See: K. Kohlmeier, N. Nekbakhtshoev, "Internet Libel Law and Freedom of Expression in Tajikistan," in: After the Czars and Commissars. Journalism in Authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia, ed. by E. Freedman, R. Shafer, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 2011.

32 "Turkmen Rights Group's Website Hacked," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2010, available at [www.rferl.org/ content/Turkmen_Rights_Groups_Website_Hacked/2189615.html].

33 See: Z. Hoerdegen, "The Future of Internet Media in Uzbekistan: Transformation from State Censorship to Monitoring of Information Space since Independence," in: After the Czars and Commissars. Journalism in Authoritarian PostSoviet Central Asia.

34 See: W.H. Dutton et al., op. cit., pp. 42-43.

35 See: "2010 Prison Census," Committee to Protect Journalists, 2010, available at [http://cpj.org/imprisoned/ 2010.php].

website Uznews, was in prison on fabricated drug charges; and freelancer Dilmurod Saiid, accused of extortion and forgery, wrote for the independent website Voice of Freedom and local newspapers. In Kyrgyzstan, Azimjon Askarov, another Voice of Freedom contributor, is serving a life sentence on disputed charges of organizing riots, possessing extremist literature and ammunition, attempted kidnapping, and complicity in the murder of a police officer.

Hope amid Crackdowns

Repressitarian governments have many tools to maintain control over Internet expression—including governmental, legal, and technological techniques—however it remains economically counterproductive for nations hoping to compete in the current wired global economy to crack down too tightly on Internet expressions.36 Because the Web is truly "world-wide," there exists a jurisdictional vacuum over content regulations, leaving such regulations to the arbitrary actions of individual governments.37

The ability of social media to promote political opposition and organization in Central Asia remains largely speculative to date, but there are indications of its promise beyond the five regimes' focus to control content and access. In their study of an oppositional website launched during the runup to the 2005 coup that toppled the first authoritarian president of Kyrgyzstan, Kulikova and Perlmutter concluded that the short-lived advocacy site suggested the Internet's potential to bypass government controls and publicly disseminate nonofficial information.38

More recently, when a series of explosions at a military munitions depot in Abadan, Turkmenistan, killed dozens of people in July 2011, the government shut telephone lines and the Internet in the town. "Citizen journalists" then reported on the incident to an Austrian-based human rights group and to foreign media outlets; they also posted photos of the damaged depot and eyewitness comments on the human rights group's website and on a social chat site. A Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty correspondent wrote: "This discussion was taking place while official Turkmen media were broadcasting their usual cheery songs and reports glorifying the president and all of his marvelous works." He observed: "The deadly explosions also mark the unprecedented emergence of citizen journalism in one of the world's most isolated countries."39

Conclusion: Caution amid the Hope

There is a certain air of inevitability expressed by some government officials related to the growing omnipresence of the Web. For example, Kazakhstan's prime minister predicted increased competition for traditional media from nontraditional media, leading to drastic changes in the entire media

36 See: B.J. Bowe, R. Blom, E. Freedman, "Negotiating Boundaries between Control and Dissent: Free Speech, Business and Repressitarian Governments," in: Human Rights and Information Communication Technologies: Trends and Consequences of Use, ed. by J. Lannon, IGI Global (in press).

37 See: A. Puddephatt, op. cit.

38 See: S.V. Kulikova, D.D. Perlmutter, "Blogging Down the Dictator? The Kyrgyz Revolution and Samizdat Websites," International Communication Gazette, No. б9, 2007, pp. 29-50.

39 M. Tahir, "Citizen Journalism Scores Breakthrough in Turkmenistan," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 2011, available at [www.rferl.org/content/citizen_journalism_scores_breakthrough_in_turkmenistan/242бб428.html].

market. "Sometimes it's not so thrilling to read bloggers, but it is the reality we have to put up with," the prime minister said. "All media soon will be beaten by the Internet."40

Howard suggests that the presence of an active online civil society can help cause a state to transition away from authoritarianism toward democracy. With such connected populations, citizens "are no longer just consumers of content, they manage the means of cultural production through consumer electronics," he notes.41

However, it is important to recognize that even as activists become better able to use social media to organize, dangers remain. "The idea that the Internet favors the oppressed rather than the oppressor is marred by what I call cyber-utopianism: a naive belief in the emancipatory nature of online communication that rests on a stubborn refusal to acknowledge its downside," wrote Morozov.42

Morozov particularly noted the potential for online communications to be used for surveillance purposes. Similarly, in a study of Internet use and cultural identity among Kyrgyz youth, Ibold observed: "Indeed, the Internet present potential perils for activists and ordinary citizens living under authoritarian regimes," such as enabling such governments to gain "unprecedented insights into activist networks and activities" by mining opposition information from Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools.43

Another implication concerns the traditional distinctions between professional and non-professional communicators. With the expanding use of new and social media by ordinary citizens and political activists in Central Asia, those blurring borders raise important questions for press rights advocates. Shafer and Freedman identified several: "Who is a journalist and how do press rights defender groups determine when to speak out on behalf of someone who falls outside traditional definitions.? Should media development organizations train bloggers and 'citizen journalists' and, if so, train them about what and with what funding? What roles can and should domestic and international NGOs play in the defense of bloggers, website administrators, and 'citizen journalists,' including those affiliated with opposition parties and outlawed groups?"44

For journalists in particular, another set of questions involve the benefits and disadvantages of mobile phones. As Kenny asks, are they "a blessing or a curse" for the news?45 To illustrate, he proffers unintended consequences of the proliferation of cell phones in Kyrgyzstan, where 75 percent of Internet users are 30 or younger and where much of the news about the country "goes largely unreported by the larger global news community."46 Kenny observes that journalism and public relations are frequently conflated there and that "the opinionated chatter of social media too often merges with fact, innuendo and rumor but is reported as truth." He writes: "I fear that without a baseline set of news-gathering values, ordinary news consumers may end up just pinballing around the Internet, leaving Kyrgyzstan as an emerging 'niche news' society reliant on whatever is 'trending now' on Yahoo."47

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40 "Kazakhstan's Traditional Mass Media May Lose Out to Online Media—Masimov," Central Asia & Caucasus Business Weekly, 2011, available at [www.allbusiness.com/economy-economic-indicators/money-currencies/15624949-1.html].

41 See: P. Howard, op. cit., p. 201.

42 See: E. Morozov, op. cit., p. xiii.

43 See: H. Ibold, "Disjuncture 2.0: Youth, Internet Use, and Cultural Identity in Bishkek," Central Asian Survey, No. 29 (4), 2010, p. 524.

44 R. Shafer, E. Freedman, "In Need of Defenders..."

45 See: T. Kenny, "Kyrgyzstan: Are Mobile Phones a Blessing or a Curse?" EurasiaNet, 2011, available at [http://www. eurasianet.org/node/63958].

46 Ibidem.

47 Ibidem.

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