What do Bots and Zombies Look Like? We’ll Find Out Today.

In the debate on the EU Copyright Directive, a recurring criticism has been that those who are critical to the proposal do not, in fact, exist. It’s an opinion even held by Swedish MEPs. When I met Jasenko Selimović, a Swedish MEP from the Liberal party, he was completely convinced that he was the victim of manipulation by Facebook and Google, due to the large number of emails he’d received from “citizens”. Swedish Social Democrat MEP Jytte Guteland told of similar theories, but was more cautious.

When the directive was put forward by the European Parliament to trilogue, German CDU MEP Axel Voss told the subsequent press conference that they’d won despite manipulation from Facebook and Google. The suggestion is that Facebook and Google have used management and technology to support various citizens’ initiatives, such as Save Your Internet, and that those who’ve written to their MEPs don’t really exist. Even the European Commission itself has made similar suggestions when they published a blog entry that suggested critics of the directive were a “mob” bought by internet giants.

As the debate continues in Sweden, the same ideas have been expressed by representatives of copyright organisations. Most notably, Alfons Karabuda, chairman of the Swedish Society of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, and board member of the Swedish Performing Rights Society. We’ve been trying to get in touch with him for several weeks, but Karabuda has been unable to find time for us to interview him, even over the phone. However, in an opinion piece for Swedish public service broadcaster SVT, he wrote, “most critics don’t even really exist; when MEPs received 15,000 emails on the matter right before Parliament’s first vote, many of us started to worry. We tried to reply to some of the emails together, but it was like sending mail to a black hole: completely silent.”

He continued, “this was also noticed when attempting to get critics together for a ‘big’ physical meeting in Berlin; 80 people appeared”.

It’s for this reason that I’m in Berlin today, because not only here, but all over Europe, people critical of the directive are gathering.

So are these people real? It’s claimed today’s largest demonstration is going to be in Berlin. The march will start from Potsdamer Platz and move towards the Brandenburg Gate. Me and photographer Herman Caroan will be joining the march.

If nothing else, we’ll at least get a chance to see how bots and zombies look in real life.

Follow our live updates (in Swedish) at http://twitter.com/emanuelkarlsten

This piece is funded by a Kickstarter campaign to monitor the European Parliament’s Copyright Directive proposal during its final stage of voting. Text and images are supplied under CC BY, a license that makes it free to share and redistribute wherever you want, provided you link back here with appropriate credit.

Read the original post in Swedish.