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UN Censorship Alliance Takes to Social Media, Hashtags and Conflicts of Interest

By Matthew Russell Lee, Social Media Review

UNITED NATIONS, December 19 -- With 2013 dubbed by many the year of social media, we'll review a faded but $250 a plate event held in New York on December 18 which attempted to promote itself on Twitter with, what else, a hashtag: #UNCA2013.

  It was a "ball," or a "prom," to promote what has become the UN Censorship Alliance, formally the United Nations Correspondents Association.

The master of ceremonies of previous years was not present this time, as was the case with a number of UN ambassadors and missions. The new -- one year only? -- MC Laura Trevelyan is the one who proposed the hashtag; two scribes from Reuters embraced it and began promoting it and themselves.

But to cut to the case, the hashtag received a total of 34 uses during the more than four hours of the event, six by the three above-named (one Reuters scribe also congratulated the other for getting an award from UNCA, of which he has been first vice president: no conflict of interest there, right?)

  Since at latest 2011, the group's leadership has gotten it involved in trying to get accurate journalism taken OFF the Internet, for example about its own conflicts of interest in hosting inside the UN a Sri Lanka government film denying war crimes after its president had a financial relationship with Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the UN.

  Having failed in censorship, the UNCA leaders tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN.

  The next most active #UNCA2013 tweeter on December 18 with four was Margaret Besheer of Voice of America, who took the "lead" in 2012 in asking the UN to throw out or "review the accreditation" of Inner City Press. Since VOA is a US government agency, Inner City Press filed ongoing Freedom of Information Act requests and obtained documents showing among other things that VOA said Reuters and Agence France Presse supporteded its ouster request.

  The request was made to a UN official who was present at the "prom" on December 18, tweeting congratulations about the awards shot through with obvious conflicts of interest. At least these were on the record.

  The nastier side of the UNCA leaders has been their anonymous social media trolling, including counterfeit twitter accounts. UNCA's 2013 and now uncontested 2014 president Pamela Falk of CBS was put on notice, on the record, of this trolling but did nothing. Now she has set up her own account, initially run of CBS News re-runs, now selfies.

  There is no response to the disproving of the statement that the Samsung television equipment UNCA is accepting has no involvement of a Mission -- even the UN says the South Korean mission was involved.

The new Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info, set to advocate for greater transparency, freedom of speech and of the press and due process in the UN, chose not to mention #UNCA2013 or the twerk-fest. @InnerCityPress asked some questions; responses and retweets came from among other UN-impacted places Haiti, Rwanda, Brazil and Sri Lanka. The latter wanted to know, where were UNCA's (and the UN's) favorite war criminals?

  The final volley of tweets came from Pakistan, about a murky reference to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and twerking. There was a guy who switched from Herve Ladsous' UN Peacekeeping to, what else, investment advice. The final tweet: "what IS #UNCA2103?" What, indeed. Watch this site.


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