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Having some form of anonymity online offers many people a kind of freedom. Whether it’s used for exposing corruption or just experimenting socially online it provides a way for the content (but not its author) to be seen.
But this freedom can also easily be abused by those who use anonymity to troll, abuse or harass others, which is why Facebook has previously been opposed to “anonymity on the internet”.
So in announcing that it will allow users to log in to apps anonymously, is Facebook is taking anonymity seriously?
Real identities on Facebook
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been committed to Facebook as a site for users to have a single real identity since its beginning a decade ago as a platform to connect college students. Today, Facebook’s core business is still about connecting people with those they already know.
So this latest announcement aims to address any reluctance some users may have to sign in to third-party apps. Users will soon be able to log in to them without revealing any of their wealth of personal information.
That does not mean they will be anonymous to Facebook – the social media site will still track user activity.
It might seem like the beginning of a shift away from singular, fixed identities, but tweaking privacy settings hardly indicates that Facebook is embracing anonymity. It’s a long way from changing how third-party apps are approached to changing Facebook’s entire real-name culture.
Facebook still insists that “users provide their real names and information”, which it describes as an ongoing “commitment” users make to the platform.
Changing the Facebook experience?
Having the option to log in to third-party apps anonymously does not necessarily mean Facebook users will actually use it. Effective use of Facebook’s privacy settings depends on user knowledge and motivation, and not all users opt in.
A recent Pew Research Center report reveals that the most common strategy people use to be less visible online is to clear their cookies and browser history.
Only 14% of those interviewed said they had used a service to browse the internet anonymously. So, for most Facebook users, their experience won’t change.
Facebook login on other apps and websites
Facebook offers users the ability to use their authenticated Facebook identity to log in to third-party web services and mobile apps. At its simplest and most appealing level, this alleviates the need for users to fill in all their details when signing up for a new app. Instead they can just click the “Log in with Facebook” button.
For online corporations whose businesses depend on building detailed user profiles to attract advertisers, authentication is a real boon. It means they know exactly what apps people are using and when they log in to them.
Automated data flows can often push information back into the authenticating service (such as the music someone is playing on Spotify turning up in their Facebook newsfeed).
While having one account to log in to a range of apps and services is certainly handy, this convenience means it’s almost impossible to tell what information is being shared.
Is Facebook just sharing your email address and full name, or is it providing your date of birth, most recent location, hometown, a full list of friends and so forth? Understandably, this again raises privacy concerns for many people.
How anonymous login works
To address these concerns, Facebook is testing anonymous login as well as a more granular approach to authentication. (It’s worth noting, neither of these changes have been made available to users yet.)
Given the long history of privacy missteps by Facebook, the new login appears to be a step forward. Users will be told what information an app is requesting, and have the option of selectively deciding which of those items Facebook should actually provide.
Facebook will also ask users whether they want to allow the app to post information to Facebook on their behalf. Significantly, this now places the onus on users to manage the way Facebook shares their information on their behalf.
In describing anonymous login, Facebook explains that:
Sometimes people want to try out apps, but they’re not ready to share any information about themselves.
It’s certainly useful to try out apps without having to fill in and establish a full profile, but very few apps can actually operate without some sort of persistent user identity.
The implication is once a user has tested an app, to use its full functionality they’ll have to set up a profile, probably by allowing Facebook to share some of their data with the app or service.
Taking on the competition
The value of identity and anonymity are both central to the current social media war to gain user attention and loyalty.
Facebook’s anonymous login might cynically be seen as an attempt to court users who have flocked to Snapchat, an app which has anonymity built into its design from the outset.
Snapchat’s creators famously turned down a US$3 billion buyout bid from Facebook. Last week it also revealed part of its competitive plan, an updated version of Snapchat that offers seamless real-time video and text chat.
By default, these conversations disappear as soon as they’ve happened, but users can select important items to hold on to.
Whether competing with Snapchat, or any number of other social media services, Facebook will have to continue to consider the way identity and anonymity are valued by users. At the moment its flirting with anonymity is tokenistic at best.
Tama Leaver receives funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC).
Emily van der Nagel does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
Links for July 10th through July 19th:
- Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On [Techdirt] – Geography isn’t the only rationale behind imposing digital distance: “Last week, we wrote about Viacom’s really short-sighted decision to use its fans as hostages in a silly dispute with DirecTV over fees. To prevent any DirecTV customer from seeing any of its key shows, Viacom stopped streaming them online… for all customers, meaning that even those who had nothing to do with any of this couldn’t legally watch the shows they liked. As we noted, this would likely only serve to drive more people to find unauthorized versions…. Of course, one of Viacom’s most popular shows — and one of the key ones turned off from streaming — is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which had been on break last week anyway. However, it returned last night with a vengeance, and target number one: his corporate masters at Viacom for acting as if they were China in blocking the internet, and likely driving more fans to unauthorized streams.”
- Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity [YouTube Blog] – YouTube launches a face-blurring tool within YouTube: “Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”
- Shell social media oil spill a ‘coordinated online assassination’ [The Age] – Shell’s brand has been hijacked in what marketing experts say is a “social media oil spill” and a “coordinated online assassination of the Shell brand”. It’s a fake PR disaster that has snowballed into a very real one for Shell as web users are under the impression that it is an official company campaign. It started when an Arctic Ready website appeared online about two months ago that looked almost identical to the Arctic section on Shell’s own site. The site appeared to be an educational site about Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic – complete with “Angry Bergs” kids game – but invited people to create their own ads by adding their own marketing copy over supplied photographs of the Arctic. User-generated ads could then be shared on social media. … For all intents and purposes, it looks like a real Shell marketing idea that has spun out of control …
But in reality … the Arctic Ready website, and the viral video, were created by activists Greenpeace and The Yes Men.”
- Downloads: ‘It’s cheaper to pay a wage, fly to the US and back twice’ [SMH]– “Australians are paying 50 per cent more than American shoppers for downloaded music and games, as well as computer software and hardware, consumer watchdog Choice says. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into IT Pricing, Choice says Australians are on the wrong end of of international price discrimination by copyright holders. New research carried out by the group found price differences across a range of IT products including iTunes downloads, PC games, personal and business software, Wii console games and computer hardware. “In Australia you pay, on average, 52 per cent more than an American consumer will for the same 50 top iTunes songs,” says Choice head of campaigns, Matt Levey.””A selection of 44 popular home and business software products were, on average, 34 per cent more expensive in Australia than the US.”
- Council’s new social media policy – rethinking our networks [Marketing Summit 2012] – While these things are never perfect, the new Australia Council for the Arts Social Media Policy is well-written, mindful of the specificities of social media platforms and engagement (not risk!) centred. This policy will probably prove a useful template for corporations and organisations trying to figure out their own policies for social media use. Kudos to former Creative Commons stalwart Elliot Bledsoe for spearheading the new policy development.
- Facebook scans chats and posts for criminal activity [Internet & Media – CNET News] – Facebook is intensively data-mining Facebook chat; the justification: “If [Facebook] detects suspicious behavior, it flags the content and determines if further steps, such as informing the police, are required. The new tidbit about the company’s monitoring system comes from a Reuters interview with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan. Here’s the lead-in to the Reuters story: “A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.” Facebook’s software focuses on conversations between members who have a loose relationship on the social network.”
- Facebook set to unfriend anonymous snooping[The Independent]– I genuinely doubt this will be rolled out on Timelines; it’d reduce time spent on Facebook. Stalking – more advertising views, after all.”The end is nigh for anonymous stalking on the social media website Facebook. The website has announced that it is going to start letting users know who has viewed items on the social network, a change which is expected to cause the amount of online snooping to plummet. For now, the change to the Facebook website, which has more than 900m active users, applies to group pages, meaning users can see who has visited any group of which they are a member. But already there are suggestions that Facebook may unfurl the technology across the site, meaning the naughty-naughty-stalky-stalky generation may soon see their fingerprint-free snooping habits curtailed, or face the embarrassment of their ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend realising they were too curious to resist an online-curtain twitch.”
- CV Dazzle: Camouflage From Computer Vision by Adam Harvey – “CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection. Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook (see CV Dazzle vs PhotoTagger by Face.com). [Via Jill]
Links for January 1st through January 12th:
- Amazon Launches iPad Kindle Store to Dodge Apple’s Restrictions [RWW] – Amazon launches even further into Apple’s regulated home turf: “Amazon has launched a more touch-friendly, Web-based iPad Kindle Store. A tablet-optimized Kindle store was available through the HTML5 Kindle Cloud Reader Amazon launched last August, but the new iPad Kindle Store is a standalone Web app. Upon visiting amazon.com/iPadKindleStore from Safari, a pop-up prompts the user to add it to the home screen. This is the most seamless way for Kindle users to buy books on the iPad. Apple’s in-app purchasing rules prevent e-book sellers from offering stores in their native apps (without giving Apple a 30% cut). The route around that was to include a link to the Web store inside the native reader app. Last July, Apple forced Amazon and other e-reader apps to remove this link, so users of e-book platforms other than Apple’s iBooks must buy their books in the browser, in a separate place from where they read.”
- Search, plus Your World [Inside Google Search]– Google adds more personalisation with “Search, plus Your World” which heavily (but OPTIONALLY) integrates Google+ and other social search results into the first page results when searching Google (if signed in to Google+).Twitter (and presumably Facebook) are unhappy since this competes with their social search roles, but Google have responded that this seems a bit rich since Twitter refused to let Google pay to index Twitter in realtime.
- Angry Birds named most downloaded paid app [Think Digit] – “Rovio’s Angry Birds has been named the most downloaded paid app for the smartphones and tablets in 2011. According to research firm Distimo, Angry Birds was downloaded more than any other application across all major operating systems including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and others. The only platform missing out on the list is BlackBerry. However, the game was recently made available on the BlackBerry’s App World. Angry Birds was followed by Fruit Ninja, while another variant of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Season grabbed the third spot on the list of the paid apps for the year 2011. Among the free apps, Facebook grabbed the top spot, while Pandora Radio followed at the second spot. The free versions of Word with Friends and Angry Birds remained on third and fourth position respectively. The Distimo report covers data collected from January to November 2011. The report has various notable findings such as Apple App Store has four times more revenue than Google’s Android Market.”
- Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Music Sales For the First Time Ever [Moneyland | TIME.com] – “Last year, for the first time in history, digital music sales exceeded physical sales, according to a newly released Nielsen/Billboard report cited by CNNMoney. In 2011, digital music sales climbed past physical sales to take a 50.3% market share of all music purchases. In a continuation of a multi-year trend, digital sales increased by 8.4% from 2010, while physical sales declined 5%.
In the decade since Apple launched its iTunes music store, a host of digital music ventures have appeared, with varying degrees of success. iTunes remains the market leader but faces increasing competition from upstarts like Rdio, Spotify and Pandora, which went public earlier this year.”
- Angry Birds bags 6.5m Christmas Day downloads [guardian.co.uk] – Rovio Mobile says its three Angry Birds games generated 6.5m downloads on Christmas Day alone. The company’s vice president of franchise development Ville Heijari revealed the milestone to All Things Digital, while promising new games in the year ahead. “We’re really excited to have such a massive number of new people get acquainted with Angry Birds over the holidays – we have exciting new releases lined up for 2012, and can’t wait to introduce them to the public,” said Heijari. He did not break down the 6.5m figure by game – Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are the three available titles – nor did he split them out by platform. While the lion’s share are likely to have come from iOS and Android, Angry Birds is also available on Windows Phone, while all three games are available for Nokia handsets and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.” Angry Birds was downloaded more than 600 million times in 2011, with over a million branded toy and shirt sales each month.
- Facebook Blamed For a Third of British Divorces [MediaCity] – “So Facebook is again at the other end of the blame-hammer, this time for precipitating about a third of divorces in Britain. The stats come from a website- the UK’s Divorce-Online, and cull stats from 5,000 divorce petitions. The same stats were pulled in 2009, and at that time, Facebook made an appearance in 20% of the petitions. Infidelity-related complaints were a forerunner, along with using Facebook walls to make nasty comments about soon to be exes.”
- The PostSecret App is Now Closed [PostSecret] – The PostSecret App (iPhone/iPad) closes after anonymous posts and comments prove unmanageable as part of a confessional community. (The closed app is now dubbed an “experimental community” that failed. Despite being a paid app, there is no mention, or apology, to those who paid for it in good faith.) From the PostSecret blog: “Like the PostSecret Blog, the App was designed so each secret was absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, that absolute anonymity made it very challenging to permanently remove determined users with malicious intent. 99% of the secrets created were in the spirit of PostSecret. Unfortunately, the scale of secrets was so large that even 1% of bad content was overwhelming for our dedicated team of volunteer moderators who worked 24 hours a day 7 days a week removing content that was not just pornographic but also gruesome and at times threatening.”
- Year in Review: 2011 in Numbers [Instagram] – “We’ve seen the Instagram community grow from 1 million to over 15 million users in 2011. To celebrate, we’re recapping the year’s activity in our Year in Review series.
1 million: The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2011.
15 million (and counting): The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2012.
3: The average number of photos uploaded per second, one year ago.
60: The average number of photos uploaded per second, today.
400 million: The total number of photos shared on Instagram so far.”
Links for October 31st through November 4th:
- Anonymous online comments [The Age] – “Online news readers should be forced to reveal their identity when commenting on a story, a parliamentarian has argued while complaining about West Australian’s poor online behaviour. WA Labor MP Andrew Waddell called on news websites, including this one, to publish readers’ names with their post. “It has become an unfortunate fact that there is a group of cowards who, hiding behind the veil of anonymity, abuse their right to free speech to perpetuate lies, abuse others, commit hate crimes, libel others and behave in an unacceptable manner,” Mr Waddell told parliament yesterday. “It is often possible to post a comment on a very public site without there being any need to provide real validated identification. This gives … courage to those who may not otherwise be willing to stand behind their comments and face the consequences of their opinions. “A vibrant society has a healthy ongoing political debate … [but] vicious, nasty, anonymous trolls have no place in that debate.”
- Man jailed for posting sex images of ex-partner online [BBC News] – “”A Nottingham man who posted sexual images of his former girlfriend online as he stalked her via social networking sites has been jailed for four months. Shane Webber, 23, of Hodgkin Close in Clifton, sent photographs and personal details about Ruth Jeffery, 22, to her family and strangers. Webber admitted one count of harassment at an earlier hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court. Miss Jeffery said she was devastated by Webber’s actions. Outside court she said even if Webber had received the maximum jail sentence magistrates could impose – six months – it would not have made up for the hurt she had been caused. She said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome. The maximum sentence in a magistrates’ court will never make up for the hurt he had put me through but I am pleased I can now put it behind me.”
- Q&A: Felicia Day, from ‘The Guild’ to ‘Dragon Age’ [latimes.com] – “Playing” Felicia Day: “And when Electric Arts [makers of Dragon Age] called, that was the first call in years that was really like, “Oh!” They asked, “What would you like to do?” and I said, “What properties do you have?” And when Dragon Age came up I was, like, “Yes!” Because when am I ever going to be able to be in a medieval world as an actor? Probably never. So I’ll help create it myself. This will be the first time that a video game property is a Web series; and the elf is an actual playable character. So my character will be a DLC [downloadable content] piece; if people own Dragon Age II, they’ll be able to purchase an extension pack and play with my character. It’s full motion capture with me, full facial capture, full vocal acting. It’s pretty much the coolest thing I could ever imagine: Not only am I in a game, but it’s as a character I created.”
- Angry Birds smashes half a billion downloads! [YouTube] – Cute little video with statistics about Angry Birds including the big one: half a billion downloads so far. That’s an awful lot! (Personally, I can account for 5 of those – 3 on Android, 2 on the iPad!)
- Plagiarism [Common Craft] – Basic but very accessible and useful video explaining plagiarism: “While Plagiarism can be intentional, it is more often caused by misunderstanding. Avoiding it means understanding the role of intellectual property and what makes plagiarism wrong. This video teaches: Why giving credit to others is necessary; A definition of plagiarism; Steps to avoiding plagiarism; Types of ideas and media that can be plagiarized”
- BBC News – Man jailed for posting sex images of ex-partner online – “A Nottingham man who posted sexual images of his former girlfriend online as he stalked her via social networking sites has been jailed for four months. Shane Webber, 23, of Hodgkin Close in Clifton, sent photographs and personal details about Ruth Jeffery, 22, to her family and strangers. Webber admitted one count of harassment at an earlier hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court. Miss Jeffery said she was devastated by Webber’s actions. Outside court she said even if Webber had received the maximum jail sentence magistrates could impose – six months – it would not have made up for the hurt she had been caused. She said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome. The maximum sentence in a magistrates’ court will never make up for the hurt he had put me through but I am pleased I can now put it behind me.”
- Angry Birds developer Rovio to open stores in China [BBC News] – Angry Birds maker Rovio has announced plans to open stores in China within 12 months. Unofficial merchandise connected to the videogame has already proved popular in the country. The company’s chief marketing officer, Peter Vesterbacka, made the announcement at the Techcrunch conference in Beijing. He said he was targeting $100m (£62m) in sales from the shops in their first year of operation. “On the physical side, we don’t have a lot of our officially licensed products out here, so we have ourselves to blame,” he told the conference. Mr Vesterbacka said he had been to China many times “checking out the Angry Birds’ presence”. He told delegates he was unhappy with the quality of the unofficial products, but had also gained “a lot of inspiration from the copyists”. The comment drew laughter from the audience.”
- Qantas’ Social Media Response Rapped For Bad Service [The Age] – “Qantas has been criticised for its mechanical, impersonal social media response to the grounding of its fleet and the ensuing customer chaos. The announcement sparked a torrent of posts on Twitter, with independent social media analyst Thomas Tudehope noting that, at its peak, “Alan Joyce”, “Qantas” and “Anthony Albanese” were all trending worldwide – indicating in excess of a thousand tweets per minute. “This is particularly remarkable given that Australia only has an estimated 2 million Twitter accounts compared to a global audience pushing towards 250 million accounts,” Tudehope said. […] Several Twitter accounts have sprung up lampooning Qantas and its CEO, Alan Joyce, including @AlanJoyceCEO and @Qantas_VH_OQA.”
Links for August 25th 2011 through August 30th 2011:
- Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist [The Guardian] – George Monbiot looks at the monopolistic world of academic publishing and finds a world where profits are soaring while the broader media landscape around them is crumbling. On the ethical side, the important question: should publicly funded reseach end up in journals that cost $20+ an article to read if you’re not attached to a university? Open access might be one answer to the problem!
- Teen hacks ex-mate’s Facebook [Toowoomba Chronicle] – “Bad blood between former teenage mates had driven one to hack into the other’s Facebook page and leave a posting that he was gay and wanted to come out of the closet, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard yesterday. […] Woodside then hacked into the victim’s Facebook page and posted that the victim was gay and wanted to “come out of the closet”, a posting which anyone accessing the page could have read, the court heard.”
- “Does This Technology Serve Human Purposes?”: A “Necessary Conversation” with Sherry Turkle (Part Three) [Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives] – Sherry Turkle interviewed by Henry Jenkins, clarifying many important points from Alone Together: “My earlier enthusiasm for identity play on the Internet, […] relied heavily on the work of psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Erikson wrote about the developmental need for a moratorium or “time out” during adolescence, a kind of play space in which one had a chance to experiment with identity. In the mid-1990s, I wrote about the Internet as a space where anonymity was possible and where one could experiment with aspects of self in a safe environment. Today, adolescents grow up with a sense of wearing their online selves on their backs “like a turtle” for the rest of their lives. The internet is forever. And anonymity on the Internet seems a dream of another century, another technology.” [Part 1] [Part 2]
- Apple cancels iTunes TV rentals [GigaOM] – “Despite its role as a major selling point of the revamped Apple TV last fall, Apple has done away with TV show rentals. Several bloggers noticed the option to rent individual episodes missing from iTunes and Apple TV Friday, and Apple later confirmed the decision was based on lack of interest. “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD Friday. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.” Very few TV studios were on board with the idea in the first place–only Fox and ABC–so this isn’t a huge change. But now the only option in iTunes when it comes to TV shows is to buy. You can buy a full season or “Season Pass,” or if you want to cherry pick a season, you can still buy individual episodes.”
- Case History Of A Wikipedia Page: Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ [The Awl] – Fascinating: “Entries such as the one on Lolita demonstrate why perfection on Wikipedia remains an “unattainable” goal—when the topic is contentious, perfection will always butt heads against “is completely neutral and unbiased.” One man’s undeniable literary masterpiece is another man’s abominable pedophilic trash, and they’re both editors on Wikipedia. The edits to the Lolita page (and any Wikipedia page) can seem tedious and petty, and many of them are. But the users’ vigilance in keeping some words and changing others, and debating over content and style, does have a purpose: it keeps critical thinking alive and well. The writing, editing, rewriting and re-editing process of a Wikipedia page creates a new entity—the Lolita Wikipedia page, which is not Nabokov’s Lolita, but a work in its own right. In the collaborative editing process, any reader can use the Lolita page to challenge its meaning. In fact, he can reach right in and edit it himself, until someone else edits it again.”
Links for July 27th 2011 through August 5th 2011:
- The freedom to be who you want to be… [Google Public Policy Blog] – A February 2011 post from the Google Public Policy blog, which included this: “Pseudonymous. Using a pseudonym has been one of the great benefits of the Internet, because it has enabled people to express themselves freely—they may be in physical danger, looking for help, or have a condition they don’t want people to know about. People in these circumstances may need a consistent identity, but one that is not linked to their offline self. You can use pseudonyms to upload videos in YouTube or post to Blogger.” In light of the real names policy on Google Plus, I wonder if Google is getting so big that the left hand is writing policies while the right hand thinks about things?
- “Real Names” Policies Are an Abuse of Power [danah boyd | apophenia] – Some important thoughts about the increasing in ‘real names’ policies, especially on Google Plus. From an historical point of view, boyd makes the important distinction between Facebook’s evolution (starting in a closed , trusted community where real-names are the norm) and GooglePlus, which has most directly courted the geek/coder/developer communities which have a much stronger tradition of handles, avatars and other non-real (where real = legal) names. And, as most people have pointed out, the disempowered, disenfranchised and non-elite members of society are often those who have the best (and convincing) need to use names other than their legal ones.
- Evil fiction: teacher a target of fake Facebook profile [the Age] – “Police are hunting the creator of a fake Facebook profile that was used to impersonate a Sydney primary school teacher and frame him as a paedophile by targeting kids at his school. The teacher, who cannot be named, is a long-time campaigner against racism online and with others he runs a blog that names and shames racists by publishing their hate-filled Facebook postings. In a phone interview, he said he believed this is why he was targeted. He said he and his family had been harassed over the phone, received death threats and had threatening notes left in his mail box after his personal details – including his address, phone number, photos and work details – were posted on a white supremacist website. “This Facebook profile opened up a couple of days ago with a picture of me and a friend with shirts off holding a beer … they were writing things on the wall such as ‘i’m gay and I like little boys’ and all sorts of things like that,” the teacher said in a phone interview.”
- Google+ pseudonym wars escalate – is it the new being ‘banned from the ranch’? [guardian.co.uk] – “Google is handling the issue of monikers rather badly when it comes to Google+. The list of blocked users is what is now being referred to as the NymWars extends to some fairly influential users. […] Blocked users are told: “After reviewing your profile, we determined that the name you provided violates our Community Standards.” Standards that are being used to ensure that everyone using Google+ is signed up using their real name. It doesn’t take much imagination to work up a few conspiracy theories about why Google should be so insistent on a real-name policy, alongside some more rational, soft-policy theories on encouraging a more, mature constructive level of engagement that reflects how we best communicate in the real world – ie, when we know who we’re talking to. But online identity is more nuanced than that. Though the roots of pseudonyms may have been in the murky, early web days when users may have felt safer protecting their identity when exploring this new world …”
- 6,000,000,000[ Flickr Blog] – Flickr reaches 6 billion photos in size, increasingly roughly 20% the number of uploads per year. This is a lot of photos, but a good, official (instagram-like) Flickr mobile app would probably mean this number would be much higher.
- Facebook’s new ‘Expected: Child’ tag sparks outcry [The Age] – “Facebook just made it easier to tell all your friends and acquaintances about your new pregnancy in one fell swoop. The social networking site recently added “Expected: Child” to its list of friends and family tags. The company also allows you to write in your due date and has optional space for the soon-to-be little one’s name. […] When I heard the news I put in a call to a friend who is 10 weeks pregnant to see if she would consider adding an “Expected: Child” on her Facebook account. The answer? A big fat no. “I’m so curious to see who would even do that,” she said. She identified three main problems with this new designation.
1. It might hurt her friends’ feelings to hear about her pregnancy over Facebook rather than in person.
2. The issues around having a miscarriage.
3. For people who have had trouble conceiving, Facebook was already a minefield of pregnancy announcements and new baby photos.”
- Fox Network to limit Web access to its shows [CNET News] – Fox in the US increases the tyranny of digital distance and provides massive incentives for unauthorised downloading of TV shows: “Fox Network announced late today that it will begin delaying Web access to many of its popular TV shows to give cable and satellite TV providers greater exclusivity with programming, essentially putting up a de facto pay wall around its content. Beginning August 15, only those people who subscribe to a participating video distributor will be able to view TV shows on an Internet portal the day after shows air on the network, the company said in a press release. All other viewers who are used to seeing episodes of “The Simpsons,” “Bones,” and “Glee” for free the next day on sites such as Hulu or Fox.com will now have to wait eight days to catch their shows.”
- BBC iPlayer goes global with iPad app launch in 11 countries [guardian.co.uk] – “BBC Worldwide is launching its global iPlayer service today, via an iPad app that will be made available in 11 countries in Western Europe. The US, Canada and Australia will follow later this year, as part of what is intended to be a one-year pilot. The service will offer a limited amount of content for free, supported by pre-roll ads and sponsorship, but its core business model is subscription, with users paying €6.99 a month or €49.99 a year. The 11 launch countries are Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Republic of Ireland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. The global iPlayer app includes some features that are not in the UK version, including the ability to stream shows over 3G as well as Wi-Fi, and a downloading feature to store programmes on the iPad for offline viewing. “We think we have a load of unmet demand for BBC and British content internationally,” said BBC.com managing director Luke Bradley-Jones in an interview with Apps Blog.”
- Media Piracy in Emerging Economies | A Report by the Social Science Research Council – “Media Piracy in Emerging Economies is the first independent, large-scale study of music, film and software piracy in emerging economies, with a focus on Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico and Bolivia. Based on three years of work by some thirty-five researchers, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies tells two overarching stories: one tracing the explosive growth of piracy as digital technologies became cheap and ubiquitous around the world, and another following the growth of industry lobbies that have reshaped laws and law enforcement around copyright protection. The report argues that these efforts have largely failed, and that the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.” [PDF]
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