Archive for topic “new media”

The Dangers Of SOPA In A Nutshell

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Facebook censors dissent among users

facebook screenshot

Facebook won't allow users to post messages critical of their privacy options, or so I discovered this afternoon.


In the midst of trying to warn my friends, family, colleagues and cohorts on Facebook about a major hole in their privacy and security, I discovered that the problem is far worse than even what I initially was complaining about. I attempted to post the following text as a status update:

Just discovered that facebook implements their security settings haphazardly. So, for instance, if you have a list of people set up so that they don’t have access to your wall, that does not mean that they will, in fact, not have access to your wall. Yet another reason why you should not trust this privacy abomination.

I was subsequently confronted with this error message:

Facebook’s systems block chain letters — like this one — that contain false and misleading information. Please be careful when deciding whether to pass along messages like this. To learn more please read this blog post.

See the screenshot above for evidence. Needless to say, I’m disgusted. This isn’t the first time that Facebook has unjustly censored individuals. Good thing I have my very own trusty news machine, already set on “BLAST”, to fire off this alert to the interwebs.

So what to do now? Quit Facebook? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. Once you join, they’ve got you. Literally, forever. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. They have you until such time that a non-human citizen of the United States of America (a “corporation”) such as Facebook, one that exists solely to mine data of consumers such as you and me for profit, would freely destroy that data that they are serving to their clients on their far away servers and protected from your prying eyes by byzantine EULAs (ex. 1, 2, 3), swarms of attorneys and spanking-new patents, hot off the printing press. Wait, I guess I wasn’t being dramatic.

Here’s what I recommend: don’t put any information, be it picture, video, thought, phrase, anything you care about, on Facebook, starting today. It isn’t a safe place and anything you put in there, you are likely forfeiting your rights to it. Worse, you may be accepting the onerous task of a prolonged legal battle should you ever want to claim rights to whatever content you are sharing again.

I am not an attorney and this should not be construed as legal advice.

There are plenty of good alternatives out there. Use Twitter and Flickr, or start a blog of your own. It really isn’t difficult, I swear, and with these options you have much more control over your data. You still have to be wary of EULAs, but so far, these organizations haven’t shown the menace that Facebook is brandishing.

I’m now going to try to post this article on Facebook. We shall see what happens. I’ll keep you updated with any developments. Who knows, I may get myself scoble-ized momentarily!

[Update: It posted! Their logic eludes me.]

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Stop downloading! Stealing CDs is much cheaper.

I’m on a legal kick today. Here is an example of just how anti-human being and pro-corporation our legal system is today (arguably, always was). Jammie Thomas was recently re-convicted of illegally sharing 1700 songs and the record labels were awarded $1.92 million in damages. Jesus Diaz over at Gizmodo compares that to six other high-profile crimes and the comparative fine (emphasis mine):

Child abduction: Fine of $25,000 and up to three years in prison, which can be accounted as $50,233 per year (that was the median household income in 2007, probably down because of the economic crisis). Total: $175,699.

Steal the CDs: A total of $275,000, $52,500 fine for the CDs.

Steal a lawnmower from your neighbour: A total of $375,000.

Burn someone’s house while playing The Doors: Another $375,000.

Stalk a Gizmodo editor (yes, you know who you are): A Class 4 felony that will result in just $175,000.

Start a dogfighting ring: $50,000.

Murder someone on the second degree, a Class 1 felony: $778,495, which accounts for a $25,000 fine and four to 15 years in prison. Jesus Diaz
Senior Contributing Editor, Gizmodo

So, what does our legal system teach us about the values of our society? Evidently, it is much better to run into Best Buy and steal the 1700 songs ($1.64 million cheaper) on CD. I mean, in this economic climate, who can really afford the luxuries of digital stealing? Much better to risk getting yourself shot and impose the violence of burglary on the masses in a chain store. Bonus: Once you have the CDs, you can actually make your own digital copies in full fidelity, unlike the options offered by virtually all digital music retailers.

Ooh, wait, I have a better idea…get rid of the goddamn Digital Millennium Copyright Act!

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