“Every day, companies and governments around the world come to Google and ask it to remove content from its search results or its sites. Google receives these requests — some of which are court orders — and then it decides. Should this stay or should it go? In this process, Google has an incredible amount of power in shaping what the world can access online.
Google does not take this matter lightly. It has teams of people devoted to analyzing these requests, developing systems of evaluation, and creating its Transparency Report, the latest installment of which was just released.”
“In the transparency report are numbers — lots of numbers — and a few stories to fill out those details. There is the number of requests Google received from the United States (187 in the period from July to December of last year, up about 100 percent from the preceding six months). There is the percent of those that it complied with (42). There are the overall rates of compliance (65 percent of court orders and 47 percent for less formal requests). The stories Google tells to accompany the broad-brush numbers (found in the “annotations” section and its blog) paint a picture to accompany those numbers that Google calls “alarming” — noting, in particular, that some of the requests for removal of political speech come from “Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.””
“This is indeed alarming — though perhaps not surprising — and we should all be glad that Google has drawn this line. But there is more to the Transparency Report than a chance to see the efforts to censor citizens around the world; the Transparency Report also reveals to us the place of Google in our information economy, and the great power it has. Google is not a court, but it is playing the role of one, and the issues it must navigate are not easy, nor are they inconsequential. The company is dealing with thousands of requests from dozens of countries, all with different laws and attitudes about free speech. As Chou explained to me, “Laws are different around the world, and we try to balance respecting local law and limiting the amount of censorship that is happening at all times.” Should it comply with Germany’s laws that ban pro-Nazi speech? What about Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, which bans insults to the monarchy? How does it decide?”
“Google is trying to make these decisions responsibly, and the outcome, as detailed in the report, is reason to have confidence in Google as an arbiter of these things if, as is the case, Google is going to be the arbiter of these issues. But unlike a US Court, we don’t see the transcripts of oral arguments, or the detailed reasoning of a judge. (Google has additionally sketched out its “approach to free expression and controversial content” in a blog post, but that post was vague, noting the company’s general bias in favor of free expression and some exceptions, but not the basis on which it conceded to those exceptions.) The Transparency Report sheds more light on the governments Google deals with than with its own internal processes for making judgments about compliance.”
“Social networking services are increasingly being used in legal and criminal investigations. Information posted on sites such as MySpace and Facebook has been used by police (forensic profiling), probation, and university officials to prosecute users of said sites. In some situations, content posted on MySpace has been used in court.”
“Facebook is increasingly being used by school administrations and law enforcement agencies as a source of evidence against student users. This site being the number one online destination for college students, allows users to create profile pages with personal details. These pages can be viewed by other registered users from the same school, which often include resident assistants and campus police who have signed up for the service. One UK police force has sifted pictures from Facebook and arrested some people who had been photographed in a public place holding a weapon such as a knife (having a weapon in a public place is illegal).”
“As the increase in popularity of social networking is on a constant rise, new uses for the technology are constantly being observed.
At the forefront of emerging trends in social networking sites is the concept of “real-time web” and “location-based.” Real-time allows users to contribute content, which is then broadcast as it is being uploaded – the concept is analogous to live radio and television broadcasts. Twitter set the trend for “real-time” services, wherein users can broadcast to the world what they are doing, or what is on their minds within a 140-character limit. Facebook followed suit with their “Live Feed” where users’ activities are streamed as soon as it happens. While Twitter focuses on words, Clixtr, another real-time service, focuses on group photo sharing wherein users can update their photo streams with photos while at an event. Facebook, however, remains easily the largest photo sharing site – Facebook application and photo aggregator Pixable estimates that Facebook will have 100 billion photos by Summer 2011.
Companies have begun to merge business technologies and solutions, such as cloud computing, with social networking concepts. Instead of connecting individuals based on social interest, companies are developing interactive communities that connect individuals based on shared business needs or experiences. Many provide specialized networking tools and applications that can be accessed via their websites, such as LinkedIn. Others companies, such as Monster.com, have been steadily developing a more “socialized” feel to their career center sites to harness some of the power of social networking sites. These more business related sites have their own nomenclature for the most part but the most common naming conventions are “Vocational Networking Sites” or “Vocational Media Networks”, with the former more closely tied to individual networking relationships based on social networking principles.
Foursquare gained popularity as it allowed for users to “check-in” to places that they are frequenting at that moment. Gowalla is another such service that functions in much the same way that Foursquare does, leveraging the GPS in phones to create a location-based user experience. Clixtr, though in the real-time space, is also a location-based social networking site, since events created by users are automatically geotagged, and users can view events occurring nearby through the Clixtr iPhone app. Recently, Yelp announced its entrance into the location-based social networking space through check-ins with their mobile app; whether or not this becomes detrimental to Foursquare or Gowalla is yet to be seen, as it is still considered a new space in the Internet technology industry.
One popular use for this new technology is social networking between businesses. Companies have found that social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to build their brand image. According to Jody Nimetz, author of Marketing Jive, there are five major uses for businesses and social media: to create brand awareness, as an online reputation management tool, for recruiting, to learn about new technologies and competitors, and as a lead generation tool to intercept potential prospects. These companies are able to drive traffic to their own online sites while encouraging their consumers and clients to have discussions on how to improve or change products or services.”
Smile, after your Blog, your emails are next to be censored…….;+) And this is only Google! Think about MSN, Yahoo and all the others in addition, already, to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, MySpace and all the other social networking services……..;+)
The Post Office reduces its services with the equivalent of a Denial Of Service (DOS) on the Internet and eliminating the relative privacy of “snail mail” forcing you to the exposure of using an email, the phones are censored like the Internet, you have a “no fly” list for airlines so you can’t travel freely…….Is it me or are we already (with a 28 years (1984-2012) time lapse) in a global “Orwellian, 1984 type” dictatorial government? ;+)
“George Orwell “encapsulate[d] the thesis at the heart of his unforgiving novel” in 1944, and three years later wrote most of it on the Scottish island of Jura, during the 1947–48 period, despite being critically tubercular. On 4 December 1948, he sent the final manuscript to the Secker and Warburg editorial house who published Nineteen Eighty-Four on 8 June 1949. By 1989, it had been translated in to some 65 languages, the greatest number for any English-language novel at the time. The title of the novel, its terms, its Newspeak language, and the author’s surname are contemporary bywords for privacy lost to the State; while the adjective Orwellian connotes a totalitarian dystopia characterised by government control and subjugation of the people. As a language, Newspeak applies different meanings to things and actions by referring only to the end to be achieved, not the means of achieving it; hence, the Ministry of Peace (Minipax) deals with war, and the Ministry of Love (Miniluv) deals with brainwashing and torture. The Ministries do achieve their goals; peace through war, and love of Big Brother through mind control.”