Friday, August 15, 2014

Twitter, Facebook ponder how to handle offensive content; new app would allow auto blocking of low-follower Twitter users; more from EFF on TPP

Electronic Frontier Foundation is advising (in a story by Jeremy Malcolm and Maira Sutton) everyone that the United States is insisting on a “no certification” policy as part of the trans-Pacific partnership obligations, giving the US the right to “vet” another country’s rules before its own obligations are in force, story here.  The is a “No Certification” website. There is a concern that big legacy business interests could wind up forcing terms that heavily punish ISP’s for not taking down alleged piracy. 

Hayley Tsukayama has a detailed story on the problem of hate speech in social media, and the difficulties that companies have in drawing the line.  The article was partly motivated by run of offensive tweets sent to Zelda Williams about the death of her father (actor Robin Williams).  The link for the story is here. Again, legally companies are protected from liability for offensive user-generated content by Section 230. CBS also as a detailed story on the Williams family issue with social media, here

Many people now only allow approved followers to see their "private life" accounts, whereas celebrities and professionals generally allow their accounts to be open to all (except known obvious abusers).  Double lives are ever more difficult.  
There is an app in beta testing called “Block Together”, by Jacob Andrews-Hoffman (formerly with EFF) which would allow users to block new Twitter users, or users with fewer than a given number of followers, or allow sharing of block lists, link here. It’s unclear what the minimum number of followers should be, or why that count is important, because follower counts tend to get inflated by spammers.  

Update:  later Friday

The New York Times, in an article by Farhad Manjoo, explores the topic of deliberate incivility by "trolls", as the recent incident involving Robin Williams's death shows.  Trolls might try to drive people, especially celebrities,  off the web for sport. 

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