Links for August 13th 2011 through August 15th 2011:

  • Google looks to ‘supercharge’ Android with Motorola Mobility [guardian.co.uk] – Wow, Google take their ball and head straight onto Apple’s turf (and Microsoft’s by way of Nokia): “Google is to acquire Motorola Mobility, the US mobile company’s smartphone business, in a $12.5bn (£7.6bn) cash deal. The takeover will boost Google’s increasing dominance in the nascent smartphone and tablet computer market. The $40 a share deal is a 63% premium on Motorola Mobility’s closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Larry Page, Google chief executive, said: “Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.””
  • Schools employ company to monitor students online [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Inevitable, but deeply troubling: “Independent schools are using private companies to monitor what their students say and do online on sites such as Facebook. An internet monitoring company, SR7, says it is been employed by some private high schools around Australia to keep track of students’ social media activity. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, but the “social media intelligence” company says its work will help prevent cyber bullying. S7R partner James Griffin says the company identifies and “attempts to stop” cyber bullying that is increasingly occurring on Facebook and another social media platform, Formspring. Mr Griffin says the increasing number of fake profiles is “striking”.”
  • “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY? [Social Media Collective] – Great post by Alice Marwick looking at the problems with the idea that you can simply stop using social media and other technologies due to issues or challenges they pose. Refuting (easy) opting out, or technology refusal, is important is showing how much people actually have to give up if they do opt out, and why it’s a decision many people can’t (or won’t) readily make.
  • Sexting punishment is unjust says magistrate [SMH] – “A senior Victorian magistrate who presided over a case in which a youth pleaded guilty to teenage sexting offences has condemned as ”so unjust” the mandatory laws that meant the young man was registered as a sex offender. The magistrate, who works in country Victoria, said the lack of judicial discretion in such cases meant severe consequences for young people who posed no threat to society and were often guilty of little more than naivety. The magistrate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had made the unusual decision to speak out because he was troubled by cases recently identified by Fairfax. He presided over the case of the country youth, then aged 18, who was sent four uninvited text message pictures of girls, aged between 15 and 17 years, topless or in their underwear. Police found the pictures on his mobile phone and laptop and charged him with child pornography offences.”
  • Don’t shoot the instant messenger: David Cameron’s social media shutdown plan won’t stop UK riots [The Conversation] – Axel Bruns refutes the logic of social media control or blocking in times of crisis (regarding the UK riots): “David Cameron’s thought bubble (let’s be charitable and call it that) in the UK parliament on Thursday, in which he said it might be a good idea to shut down social networking services if there were to be a repeat of the riots that have rocked Britain, is one such moment. It is, to be blunt, just staggeringly dumb. Where do we even begin? Consider, for example, the fact that Cameron, along with just about all the other leaders of the Western world – you know, we who claim to believe in freedom of expression – lauded the role of social media in the “Arab spring” uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere. But now he wants to shut Twitter and Facebook down, just because someone, somewhere might use them to plan criminal activities? You must be joking. By the same reasoning, why not take out the entire Internet and phone network as well?”
  • Panicked over social media, Mr. Cameron joins company of autocrats [The Globe and Mail] – “Eight months ago, as Egyptians flooded the streets of Cairo in protest, the government tried to stem the tide by cutting off access to Twitter and Facebook – social networks that had been so associated with democratic uprisings that labels such as “the Twitter Revolution” were being bandied about. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the rioting that swept his country and declared that he was looking into blocking unspecified troublemakers’ access to Twitter and another network, BlackBerry Messenger. With the speed of a looter on the make, social networks have gone from heroes of the Arab Spring to the newly-anointed villains of the British riots. One day, implement of utopia; the next, yob’s best friend. Throwing his digital lot in with Hosni Mubarak is hardly a flattering comparison for Mr. Cameron. But his choice of target reflects a very real public unease with the way social networks seem to inspire people to action.”
  • London riot social media blocks ‘totalitarian’ [The Age] – “Social media and legal experts have ridiculed a proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron to restrict the use of services like Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger to prevent riots. The services were used by rioters to organise looting and vandalism across London and beyond, prompting Cameron to demand the companies take more responsibility for content posted on their networks. Home secretary Theresa May is due to hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion this week. But social media experts and free speech campaigners have rejected the idea, saying it is an impractical knee-jerk response that is akin to moves by Arab rulers to block online communications during this year’s pro-democracy uprisings.”
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