Dear Twitter: Corporate censorship is still #censorship


 

Andrew Couts July 31, 2012 By

Twitter corporate censorship

Opinion: Twitter’s apparent willingness to censor a user to protect its corporate friends damages the company’s image as a champion for free speech.

UPDATE: Guy Adams’s Twitter account has been restored, as of about 1:35pm ET.

By now, you’ve likely heard about the debacle surrounding British journalist Guy Adams’s Twitter account, which was suspended by Twitter after Adams topped off a tirade against NBC’s time delayed London Olympics coverage by publishing the work email address of Gary Zenkel, NBC’s executive in charge of its Olympics broadcast.

If not, here’s a quick primer: Adams, as Twitter explained to him in an email, had violated the microblogging service’s privacy policy by publishing Zenkel’s email address. Twitter forbids the posting of “another person’s private and confidential information.” As the media has been quick to point out, however, it is not entirely clear that Adams actually violated anything.

For a moment, let’s ignore the fact that Adams posted Zenkel’s work email address — not his personal address, nor his phone number or home address — which some might consider “public” by nature. Twitter’s rules go on to explain that, “If information was previously posted or displayed elsewhere on the Internet prior to being put on Twitter, it is not a violation of this policy.” While it is now quite difficult to find any links through a Google search that were not published after Adams’s Twitter suspension, Chris Taylor of Mashable was able to find Zenkel’s email posted online prior to the current hoopla. And now, of course, Zenkel’s email address has been re-posted all over the Web.

But it’s clear at this point that Twitter — NBC’s “official narrator” for the 2012 Olympics — simply used its privacy policy as an excuse to shut up Adams. As the Telegraph reports, it was Twitter, not NBC, that first noticed Adams’s harsh criticism of the network. Twitter brought Adams to NBC’s attention, and NBC subsequently filed the complaint form that led to Adams’s inevitable account suspension.

As far as censorship on Twitter goes, this is deeply disturbing on several levels. First, it shows that Twitter is willing to bend its rules for users to meet its own ends. (If Twitter is NOT bending its rules, I’d love to hear from Twitter how that is possible. Sadly, the company is staying mum on the matter.) Second, it shows that Twitter’s commitment to transparency and free speech on its network has as much value as Monopoly money.

Back in January, Twitter announced that it had changed its censorship policy so that censored tweets would only appear censored in the country whose government issued the takedown order. Twitter would also post any instance of censorship on the independent watchdog site ChillingEffects.org. The move sparked outrage amongst users who saw the policy change as Twitter bending to totalitarian governments that seek to silence their citizens.

At the time, I defended Twitter’s new policy: Rather than increase censorship on Twitter — a platform that served a vital role in Iran’s Green Revolution, the Arab Spring uprisings, and the Occupy Wall Street movement — the new policy would actually decrease censorship, since removed tweets would only appear invisible to residents of a single country, not the whole world, as was previously the case. It was not Twitter we should be boycotting, I said, it was the totalitarian governments that seek to imprison the ideas of their people.

While I stand by that logic, this NBC disaster proves that oppressive regimes are not the only enemy Twitter users need to worry about: Twitter’s very existence as a company is a problem.

Twitter may be willing to stand up to governments who push around its users, but it is apparently not beyond doing some shoving itself. Since Twitter has so far refused to further explain its suspension of Adams’s account, we can only assume that the fateful move was born of greed — a need to build a relationship with a corporate behemoth like NBCUniveral. What’s to prevent Twitter from roughhousing its users again for similar reasons? Nothing, obviously.

Of course, all of this should be expected. Twitter is, after all, a company, not a publicly owned service like 911. And companies ultimately exist to make money. Rather than join the media pile-on that is currently underway, I wanted to believe that there was some socially justifiable reason for Adams’s account suspension. But as someone who once defended Twitter against those who thought it held the ideals of free speech above its bottom line, however, I must admit that this whole sad saga with NBC and Adams was, disappointingly, inevitable. So the next time you try to pose as a champion of your users and for free speech in general, Twitter, forgive me for taking a more skeptical stance. You are, it seems, just the same as the rest.

Read more: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/nbc-vs-guy-adams-twitters-disappointing-foray-into-corporate-censorship/#ixzz22Gs8Q4BH

 

#Olympics: NBC Gives a Big Middle Finger to Over 100 Million Americans Without Cable TV


 

People all over the world are watching the Olympics online, but a lot of Americans are just out of luck.
July 29, 2012  |  Alternet.org

Comcast and NBC logos.

Comcast and NBC logos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every four years, much of the world comes together to compete in – and watch — the Olympic games. Everyone on earth can catch this year’s games online, with the exception of one group: Americans who don’t have a subscription to cable TV.

NBC, which holds the U.S. rights to the games, is giving an Olympic-sized middle finger to a lot of households by offering the games online, but only to those with cable. I am one among a growing number of Americans who have given up their boxy television and watch content on their computers using services like Netflix streaming, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. According to Nielson, about 48 million households don’t have cable TV – that represents around 37 percent of the population. (This figure includes satellite TV subscribers, who are also out of luck when it comes to streaming the games. But it doesn’t factor in people with, say, both sattelite and an old-fashioned TV with an antenna laying around – that group can catch games on NBC, but not those carried on MSNBC.)

I would gladly pay for the privelege of watching the Olympics online. $9.95 would be a no-brainer, I’d almost certainly go $14.95, and might have even pulled the trigger at $19.95. So NBC isn’t just depriving a third of the population an opportunity to watch the games, it’s not only getting a lot of criticism – the hashtag #NBCFail is all over Twitter – but the company is also leaving tens of millions in revenues on the table.

According to TorrentFreak – a bit-torrent site – while limited access to the games is only going to send people looking for illegal streamers, “NBC and the IOC are fully prepared to act against Olympic pirates to protect their commercial interests.” It’s a bit odd when you think about it, given that NBC isn’t offering the service itself, other than to cable TV subscribers who would be crazy to choose a shaky Chinese mirror site over their cable TV. Again, like many, I’d pay for the service if I could.

What is NBC thinking? On its face, their strategy appears to be in keeping with a lot of content-providers’ apparent preference to treat their potential customers like thieves – fiercely “protecting” their intellectual property — rather than coming up with innovative ways to offer their stuff to the growing audience of online-only media consumers at a reasonable price. Corporate culture is weighed down heavily by short-term thinking.

But there’s more to it than that. Comcast, the country’s leading cable provider, is the majority shareholder in NBC Universal, NBC’s parent company. And Comcast has a problem: it’s hemorrhaging cable subscribers. According to Nielson, between 2010 and 2011, cable subscriptions declined by almost 8 percent, while households that get their video via satellite, online, or from their telco increased by about 7 percent. (Actually, Comcast has two problems, the other being that people hate the company – it consistently scores terribly on consumer satisfaction surveys.)

Despite the fact that NBC enjoys the use of airwaves that belong to the American people, Comcast fears that those 37 percent of households who don’t feel the need for company’s boxes anymore are a harbinger of the future, and it seems to be willing to cut us off from the Olympic games to protect its core business (which is extra annoying for those of us who still fork over money for its broadband services). Comcast has long viewed the Olympics as a means of making cable more attractive – in 2009, before it bought a majority share in NBC

 

People all over the world are watching the Olympics online, but a lot of Americans are just out of luck.Universal, Comcast upset the International Olympic Committee by announcing plans to launch a cable channel dedicated to the games (including off-year trials and world championship events). NBC also squawked, and it may be that holding the rights to the Olympics through 2012 was part of the broadcasters appeal for Comcast.

 

The irony is that Americans jonesing for this year’s games can get around Comcast’s blackout by doing what people in repressive countries whose governments censor the internet have long done: set up a mirroring service that makes it look as if their computer is located somewhere else, like London. These services cost $5-$10 per month, and allow users to catch all the games, in high definition and without tape-delay, on BBC.com.

An extra bonus is that the BBC apparently thinks that the games are dramatic enough on their own merit, and don’t go in for the cheap, contrived melodrama that NBC’s producers seem to adore. #NBCFail, indeed.

 

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He’s the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- 250,000 URLS takeN down by Google EVERY WEEK #Censorship


Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

CONTACT

Fight for the Future

Tiffiniy Cheng

Holmes Wilson

press@fightforthefuture.org

            (614) 465-6371      

            (508) 474-5248      

May 24, 2012

Internet Freedom Group Fight for the Future Responds to Google’s Transparency Report

Google’s latest transparency report reveals that copyright holders are taking down over 250,000 URL‘s*, more than the total for all of 2009.

Even more troubling, these numbers include cases where companies abused copyright to silence legitimate speech: criticism of their products, for example.

In 2011, Greenpeace uploaded a video to YouTubecriticizing Nestle for its unfriendly environmental practices. Nestle lobbied to have the video removed on grounds of copyright infringement.

” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”>http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-20000805-36.html%5D

Copyright law is insanely out of date– it’s even illegal for kids to lip sync pop songs on Youtube.” said Fight for the Future’s Holmes Wilson, “Worse, we know there are many cases where companies have abused copyright law to silence legitimate criticism and political speech.”

“Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (MCA) got sued days after his death for a sample he used decades ago,” said Wilson,  “Today’s young artists are more likely to live in fear of copyright law than think they will benefit from it– and these are the people copyright was intended to support.”

Examples of copyright holders overstepping their ownership online include cases like Brian Kamer, whose video was taken from YouTube, shown on The Jay Leno Show without his permission, and subsequently removed from YouTube with a copyright claim from Jay Leno’s parent company NBC Universal.

Kamer’s open letter to Jay Leno is currently going viral:

Dear Jay Leno,

First off, my intention is not to fight you on this. You have more cars than I have dollars, and so I know I don’t stand a chance legally, and on top of that, I don’t really understand how legal stuff works. But the truth is you kind of fucked up my shit and I need to talk to you about it.

In 2007 my good friend Travis Irvine was running for mayor of his home town, Bexley, Ohio. He asked for help making him a funny campaign commercial. So together, me and my pal Travis composed, performed and recorded an original campaign jingle onto my four track (we did, not you). Then, I directed and shot a silly music video for that song featuring Travis strolling about his town, looking patriotic, friendly and mayoral. Remember that video?

I think you might, because in 2009 Travis called me about it. He was in a frenzy and needed to know if I’d seen your show that night, which of course I had not. You see, Travis had received a call from a high school friend who claimed to have seen Travis on The Jay Leno Show. So the next day, we both watched your show on the internet, and sure enough our video was in a piece at the end. I remember it was at the end because I had to watch the whole show to find it and boy that is a long show, it felt like I was watching forever. How long was your show, like three hours? During the bit you played five stupid local campaign commercials and one of those commercials was the video I was telling you about earlier. After you played our video on national television, you said something like, “I love that song!” as the audience cheered in approval. So thank you for that. It was nice of you.

Anyway, it was a good laugh for Travis and I, but we forgot all about it a few weeks later. End of story, right? Apparently not, Mr. Leno.

I’ll have you know that I was searching for our said video on YouTube, and it turns out that the video has been blocked. Blocked by you! Isn’t that fucked up?

Your company NBC just up and blocked our video and claimed that we are copyright infringers! But we are not! We made it! And this is the video that you said you loved! Now, if you try to watch our video (and again this is the video that had nothing to do with you until you used it in your show without asking) on YouTube it’s just a big black sign that basically says, “the makers of this video stole this video from NBC, so you can’t watch it!” Jay, what in the hell is going on here?

Read more here

A Guide to Anchoring and Reporting on News Channels


Citizens for Free and Responsible Media, Pakistan (CFRM-Pakistan) would like to share a basic checklist of what you, as media consumers, believe as the do’s and dont’s that news anchors and reporters are supposed to be familiar with, and that rest of the media consumers should also be aware of.

Good anchors/reporters:

  • Present news that is grounded in facts.
  • Make clear distinctions in their reporting and/or coverage between news and opinion.
  • Present opinion in their reporting and/or coverage that is grounded in various viewpoints based on at least two ‘experts.’
  • Stay neutral while moderating or presenting, even on issues they ardently believe in or oppose.
  • Are dispassionate in their reporting and use of language irrespective of the issue they are covering.
  • Always show respect to their subjects and guests.
  • Stay clear of stereotyping and judgement calls in their reporting and coverage.
  • Are mindful of the impact their coverage will have on their subjects and/or guests.
  • Take precautions to ensure that their report will not lead to any harm to their subjects and/or those associated with their subjects.

Bad anchors/reporters:

  • Present opinion that is passed off as fact or news.
  • Do not make clear distinctions in their reporting and/or coverage between news and opinion.
  • Present opinion in their reporting and/or coverage that is grounded in singular viewpoints, and/or based on one ‘expert.’
  • Take sides with guests or present their own viewpoint while they are moderating or presenting.
  • Allow their emotions to show in their use of language and physical expressions.
  • Disrespect their subjects/guests or certain groups in their reporting/coverage.
  • Use language and expressions that stereotypes certain groups.
  • Preach their own version of morality or ‘right and wrong’ in their presentation or reporting.
  • Are irresponsible in their coverage and are not mindful of the impact coverage will have their subjects and guests.
  • Do not take necessary precautions to ensure that their report/coverage will not lead to harm to their subjects and/or those associated with their subjects.

CFRM-Pakistan are activists, academics, lawyers, journalists and citizens from all walks of life—essentially media consumers—serving as an independent platform to voice public concerns about media freedom and responsibility in Pakistan.

 

In case of any query, please feel free to contact us at: c4frm@gmail.com 


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