Michelle Bovée

Twitter Diplomacy: Hardly A Bold New World for Foreign Policy

Over two years ago, I wrote a critique of the then newly-elected Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s use of Twitter to respond publicly to the world leaders who had reached out to congratulate him on his success. Modi’s tweets were strategic, with close allies, such as Canada and Japan, receiving early mentions, while those…

Social Media Companies Join Forces to Fight Terrorist Propaganda

Four internet superpowers, Facebook, Microsoft, YouTube, and Twitter, recently announced a new partnership that puts these private companies in the rather unique position of acting as a sort of INTERPOL for online content dissemination. The companies intend to counter the spread of terrorism-related content by creating a “shared industry database” of images and videos deemed…

Dismal Human Rights in an Impressive Global City

Rising out of the desert is the improbable city of Dubai, which may soon feature the first-ever hyperloop—an underground bullet train that travels at 745mph—in addition to a collection of skyscrapers, a brand new canal, a “miracle garden,” and other creative feats of engineering and technology. Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has…

Inside the Nuclear Deal: Iranian Fashion Revolution

Tehran joined the ranks of London, Paris, and Milan in February 2015, when the city hosted its first ever Fashion Week. Seven designers—the majority of whom were women—participated in the luxury event, which emphasized just how much the rules governing what types of clothing can and cannot be worn on the streets have disintegrated since…

Digital Diplomacy in the Age of WikiLeaks

The 24-hour news cycle has not been kind to many individuals who have had their private correspondence hacked, and foreign policy leaders are not, unsurprisingly, exempt. The latest victim, former four-star General and Secretary of State Colin Powell, handled the scandal with aplomb, telling BuzzFeed News “Okay, bye bye,” when they reached out for comment,…

3-D Printing and the Islamic State: Pivotal Moment, or More of the Same?

To listen to some policymakers and pundits talk about 3-D printing, it seems to be the harbinger of World War III, a “game-changing” technology that could result in nonstate actors like ISIS becoming incalculably deadlier. United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, for example, spoke out against the “potential for misuse” of 3-D printing at a…

Twitter Mining and Predictive Analytics: Can We Prevent Social Unrest?

When the Arab Spring ‘officially’ began, in December of 2010, Twitter had approximately 50 million monthly active users (MAUs). Today, that number has jumped to over 300 million.  That’s 300 million people around the world tweeting about their locations, movements, grievances, and plans, and that vast trove of data has not gone unnoticed.  Social scientists have…

Do We Need an International Counternarcotics Treaty?

The international illicit drug trade cash flow is about $330 billion per year, despite the best efforts of the United Nations for the past two decades. Drug-related corruption and violence persist, and resources have been funneled away from health and development initiatives towards ineffective law enforcement. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs wrapped up its…

The Billion Dollar Industry of Nigerian E-mail Scams

The phrase “e-mail scam” conjures familiar images: all-capital notes signed by Nigerian princes offering huge fortunes—if you can only send them a few thousand upfront—or government officials who cannot properly spell their own titles expressing a desperate need to route millions through your bank account.

International Relations in the Dark

This year’s Davos forum covered a lot of ground on issues relating to the human implications of digital media, including the ways in which terrorist organizations like the Islamic State leverage social media and how governments interact with the challenges and opportunities provided by increasing connectivity. But one key facet of the digital age was largely absent…

Facial Recognition Systems: A Tool to Combat Human Trafficking?

Walk through almost any neighborhood in Manhattan and law enforcement can trace your path, tracking your movements on the 8,000-plus cameras that blanket the city. Attend an event at Madison Square Garden and building security—and advertisers—will rely on facial-recognition technology to track attendance and prevent people believed to be threats from entering the building. Fly…

Walled Gardens: Google’s Misstep Highlights Threats to Internet Freedom

On Tuesday, December 11th, 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai found himself testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee. Subjects discussed ranged from artificial intelligence to political bias to manipulation of search results. Project DragonFly was also on the table, though Pichai was quick to dismiss the endeavor. He told the committee that Google has…

Artificial Intelligence Politicians: More Gimmick than Reality

Non-human candidates frequently grace local and national electoral ballots. Limberbutt McCubbins was the first feline presidential candidate in the US; Darth Vader ran for mayor of Odessa, Ukraine; and a rhinoceros named Cacareco was elected to Sao Paolo’s city council. Typically these candidates are nominated as a joke or as a protest, political or otherwise.…

Not Safe for Facebook: Censorship and the Modern Public Square

Semi-nude paintings by Austrian artist Egon Schiele surprised recent riders of the New York subway, London Tube, and Cologne bus. The works were part of an ad campaign launched by the Vienna Tourism Board. Originally, they were supposed to stand on their own as advertisements for the Leopold Museum. City regulators protested this request to…

Influencer Marketing for International Development—or International Chaos?

Singapore’s Instagram users got a bit of a surprise in January: dozens of influencers (users with anywhere from 1,000 to 35,000 followers) posting mundane statuses about finance and budgeting. Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) paid over 50 influencers to post about the budget in advance of Budget Day, when MOF seeks public feedback on the…

Saudi Cinemas Herald Regional Transformation

In 1982, ultra-conservative clerics pressured the King of Saudi Arabia to close down all movie theaters, citing the threat they posed to religious and cultural identity. Thirty-five years later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—the same Crown Prince who recently arrested over 200 influential Saudis and spent a record $450 million on a da Vinci painting—announced…

About Face: Facial Recognition & Border Security

The recently launched iPhone X uses facial recognition technology to unlock the phone rather than fingerprint scanners or the comparatively old-fashioned passcode, ostensibly to make the phone more secure. As evidenced by the long lines on launch day and the robust secondary market, many consumers seem to have a fairly blasé attitude towards the fact…

African Nations Over the Moon

Space, the final frontier, has so far been out of reach for the majority of African countries, even as the space race raged on across North America, Europe, and Asia. Only over the last decade or so have a handful of African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, and Ethiopia, started to extend their sights…

Currency Wars: Repressive Regimes Turned Crypto-Criminals

Bitcoin was first mentioned in a research paper from late 2008 as a form of money that would be untraceable and free from interference by governments and central banks. Anyone with a computer can buy and sell bitcoin and transactions are instantaneous, which has attracted attention from a variety of sectors, from international development to…

Game of Tourism: Cities Seek to Limit Tourism while Others Woo Foreign Visitors

If you have been inspired by Game of Thrones to visit beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia, the site of the fictional capital of King’s Landing, you may find yourself out of luck: the Mediterranean city, long a popular tourist destination, has been so overrun that mayor Mato Franković announced plans to limit the number of visitors allowed…