Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Being Slapped

I read an interesting newspaper article about Slapps and consumer participation (Venting Online, Consumers Can Find Themselves in Court). It describes the case of 21-year old student who was sued by a local company, because he wrote negative critics about them online, more exactly, he established Facebook group against this company. Company filed a defamation suit against him claiming the site was hurting business and seeking $750,000 in damages. He won in court and become local and Facebook star. But for me the wider context is important. How this can happen in the age of free speech especially on internet?

Slapp is strategic lawsuit against public partnerships or participation and is mostly used by companies or like author is writing:

"The label has traditionally referred to meritless defamation suits filed by businesses or government officials against citizens who speak out against them. The plaintiffs are not necessarily expecting to succeed — most do not — but rather to intimidate critics who are inclined to back down when faced with the prospect of a long, expensive court battle."

Many states in America has even anti-Slapp laws and these are very useful today because of the internet. As it seems internet is not so much free-speech place after all, especially Twitter and Facebook, where companies can find themselves with no problem. But it is somehow frightening that individuals or customers can not speak their mind and share their experiences. But on the other hand, some companies are making their own pages just to hear opinion from customers. There are even some anti-Slapp projects and lay firms (http://www.casp.net/), but still, how did come so far, that now companies can sue costumers for bad critics.

We believe that on the internet we have absolute freedom of speech, because we are anonymous and we think that nobody can track us. Well it is not that simple. Even if we reveal our identity for credibility or better weight of our opinion, it is a good chance when we criticize something that we will end up on court. Maybe this is very extreme, but I believe that cases like author is mentioning in article are a good proof have far can freedom of speech goes. Although it is interesting that on internet there is so much surveillance and control from the side of the commercial players and no from the institutions (well to much control in the case of terrorism and too little in the case of other crimes). But what do you think, should be internet more protected from being Slapped or should be freedom on both sides?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Anti-Facebook part II

Last time I wrote about QuitFacebookDay. I also found another anti Facebook site, which is not so radical but it is still against Facebook and is concerned about privacy settings. This site is Facebook Protest and is making the 6th June day of the protest. As they are writing:

"On June 6th we are asking those who disagree with the changes Facebook has made to its “privacy” policies to commit to not logging in or interacting with Facebook in any way. Be sure to log out of Facebook in all of your browsers no later than the evening of June 5th. On the 6th, be sure to not use Facebook connect or click any “Like” buttons: basically refrain from ALL Facebook related activity."

This action is connected to Zuckerberg's statement that he does not believe in privacy. He is explaining this with the changed perception of privacy and continues to change privacy terms. On Facebook Protest site visitors can also found a lot of useful articles about changing privacy conditions. Like the one on Wired.com, which is writing about Facebook colonization of web:

"It’s an ambitious attempt to rewrite the web as a socially linked network. But many see Facebook’s move as trying to colonize the rest of the web, and keep all this valuable information in its data silos, in order to become a force on the web that rivals Google."

I think that this is very important point, because Facebook is no longer just the identity site. It has become so much more not just for users but also for companies and after all researchers. It is social phenomenon and now is trying to go beyond itself. For example you already can share articles or Youtube videos on Facebook and if really "like" button will be on anything from blog entries to T-shirts in web stores, then the main question should be asked. Did perception of people's privacy changed so much that they not realize and does not care what information they share? And will Facebook ever be unpopular?

Recording to more and more concerned articles, bloggers, Twitter users, anti-Facebook sites and all in all Facebook groups, Facebook owners should be concerned too. Yes, perception of privacy has changed but this does not mean that privacy should not be respected and exploited. It should be even more secured and people should be warned where and in what kind their personal information can be used.

Anti-Facebook part I

I believe almost everyone who reads this blog has Facebook account. But did anybody tried to delete it? It is not that simple as it looks on the first sight. Well, you can delete your account but this is not the first choice that Facebook is suggesting. Firstly you can just deactivate account and that means that everything that you put on Facebook will stay there and it will be accessible for almost everyone. And because of this kind of concerns about privacy I found anti-Facebook group.

The first one is QuitFacebookDay and they have almost 8000 Committed Facebook Quitters. On May 31st they will all quit Facebook and the main reasons for doing so are concerns about privacy and uses of personal data. They also believe that Facebook can be addictive as they write:

"Quitting Facebook isn't easy. Facebook is engaging, enjoyable and quite frankly, addictive. Quitting something like Facebook is like quitting smoking. It's hard to stay on the wagon long enough to actually change your habits. Having peer support helps, but the way to quit Facebook is not to start a group on Facebook about leaving Facebook."

Well I can agree with some of their statements and articles they are citing (very interesting are the instructions for permanently deleting your Facebook account: http://www.wikihow.com/Permanently-Delete-a-Facebook-Account), but comparing use of Facebook to smoking is just funny. I believe that it is not fair to be so technological deterministic and say it is all Facebook fault. People should be aware that web is open and public space. These are the characteristics that make web so unique and useful. Like every user can access almost every information (from news to government data) it is logical that this kind of exploitation will also be from the other side. And it is naive to think that it is just Facebook who uses personal information for advertisers and companies. Every time we open web browser our personal data, our search words and information about us are stored somewhere and can be used.

However Facebook is open network and should have some respect to their users. Users are those who are keeping Facebook so popular and favored between advertisers. And if Facebook will loose its users because of changing privacy rules, there will be no more Facebook. This is what Zuckenberg and others should think about and also take in account when they are changing conditions of use they should think about users and their wishes. Will you quit Facebook on 31st May?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where is MySpace?

MySpace is American social networking site which has a quite a long history. It was launched in 2003 under the patronage of internet marketing company eUniverse (today's Intermix Media). Firstly it was virtual storage page and after some years it became social networking site. In 2005 MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and after that, some design changes, separate subsites (like MySpace for UK or China version of MySpace) and launch of Facebook made MySpace no more page for music and networking but it has become advertising paradise and Facebook's-wanna-be-twin. Why for advertisers? "Through its Web site and affiliated ad networks, MySpace is second only to Yahoo! in its capacity to collect data about its users and thus in its ability to use behavioral targeting to select the ads each visitor sees." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MySpace)

Well internet is constantly changing but why did MySpace become so old and unpopular? Some years ago MySpace was a place to be, all the celebrities and music artist were on MySpace, but today majority of them went to Twitter or Facebook. But are Twitter and Facebook phenomenon the main reasons for the decline of MySpace? (for comparison of numbers of unique visitors check this very useful site for all of you who are interested in social networking sites -> http://siteanalytics.compete.com/myspace.com+facebook.com+twitter.com/)

Some possible MySpace flaws can be:
- complicated use of all the aplications and features of site (the KISS rule - Keep It Simple Stupid), it wants to be too much like Facebook,
- it does not have any third party program helpers, like Twitter or Facebook have (like applications or companies fan pages),
- it is also more imaginary and people are less willingly to share their real identity on MySpace than on the Facebook,
- poor spam and junk protection, too much advertisements,
- not so clean-looking design like Facebook,
- it has no option for non-stop communicating like chating,
- celebrities moved to Twitter, independent bands stayed on MySpace (privacy rights).

And this are just some of potential causes. Do you agree with them or do you think that it is not all about the technical changes but the reality that primar MySpace users got old. And do you think that Facebook could have the same destiny?

And when I was searching for information about MySpace I found this very useful Wikipedia site of all of social networking sites. Useful and interesting :) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Searching for love in 21st century

Online dating has become a part of searching for partner in every-day life. Some statistics says that in 2006 18% of all users of internet in Europe have visited online dating site. And this is about 38,2 million users. (http://www.comscore.com/press/release.asp?press=1010) And in UK every month 7 million singles visited a dating site in 2009. This is a 27% increase of the year 2008. (you can find more statistics about internet dating for all over the world here) So online dating is a fast growing industry which has become approved and normal way of meeting new people.

Popularity of internet and new technologies on the market of partnerships and marital status has several social causes. There are changes in intimate relationships and private sphere like for example reduced social regulation of intimate life and sexuality, there is also transformation of intimacy, phenomena of pure relationship and plastic sexuality. Also changes in labor sphere have consequences on changed setting for singles. There is less free time because of the more and more working hours so single people do not have time for "traditional" meeting of potential partners. Also process of individualization and demands of reflexive project on the self, globalization and other changes have impact on more and more used online dating. sites And this kind of dating can have several positive sides but it also involves taking risks.

Some would say that internet and computer mediated communication is successful in dating because there are reduced nonverbal cues so the real personality is more important than the looks. And in this kind other factors which are important for relationship come in foreground like affinity, contact, reciprocal self-disclosure and emotional intimacy. In that way people are also liberated of social roles of gender so personality has more impact on meeting the "right" person. But trust is still the main factor of successful search and if we believe statistics (58% of Europeans have been victims of online dating dishonesty. Italians at 72%, Germans at 58%, French and British at 55%, and Dutch at 48%) online dating sites are not anymore the new environment in which "true love" can be found. Singles who use dating sites, 33% form a relationship, 33% do not, and 33% give up on dating online.

So online searching for love is not so perfect like some authors (Ellison, Heino and Gibbs 2006; Hardey 2004; Ben-Ze'ev 2004) are suggesting. But like the latter author is underlining, this kind of searching for partner has other consequences like social integration and social contacts. And in this way people can satisfy inner human need and this is free communication. So like almost every act on internet is in the direction of communication also searching for love is just the satisfaction of social integration.

- Ben-Ze’ev, Aaron. 2004. Flirting on and offline. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 10 (1): 24-42.
- Ellison, Nicole B., Rebecca D. Heino in Jennifer L.Gibbs. 2006a. Managing impressions online: Self-presentation processes in the online dating environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11 (2): 415-441.
- Hardey, Michael. 2004. Mediated relationships: Authenticity and the possibility of romance. Information, Communication & Society 7 (2): 207-222.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Internet killed the CD?

We all know that music industry is (by their opinion) in trouble especially with the rise of the internet. They have money loss and as RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is writing, these losses are not small.

"One credible analysis by the Institute for Policy Innovation concludes that global music piracy causes $12.5 billion of economic losses every year, 71,060 U.S. jobs lost, a loss of $2.7 billion in workers' earnings, and a loss of $422 million in tax revenues, $291 million in personal income tax and $131 million in lost corporate income and production taxes." (Source: http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php)

Surveys in all major markets prove that internet is a major factor for the fall in world music sales, down 7% in 2003, and down 14% in three years. Yes, internet has a great influence on music industry. At beginning music industry did not know what to do. But then finally they acted and move their bussiness to internet. So we got albums online and we could just download them.

And so is today. A small number of artists have still old fashioned CD's. Well CDs have become collection pieces. A lot of people buy CD just when their favourite artist release it. All other people download albums. And this downloading is not every time legal. Why is internet music piracy so popular? Some say that because it's cheaper. Some that is less time consuming (you do not even have to leave home). Some say that is positive because with this kind of music listening you can widen your music taste. It can be treated positive. But could we say that the negative point about music sharing on internet is "murder" of CDs?

I think that internet has brought to us democratization of music. Now every band, group or artist can record themselves and put their songs to Youtube. So the music is no longer reserved just for those who have some acquaintance in music industry. In that way music industry is also loosing it's main role in connecting music to money. Music has become more important. But back to the question if internet killed the CD. In my opinion internet has made CD a boutique product. It is more valued (on symbolic level) and has more exclusive role. And like video did not kill the radio star, also internet will not killed CD and video stars. Even more. On internet video and presentation of artist is even more important. And what do you think? Will internet kill the CD or not?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cloud computing

For new post I wanted to write something about privacy on internet. But when I was searching for material I run into this website: Privacy Rights. Although is American it has some really interesting documents on privacy in new media context. When I was checking their website I run to really interesting concept. Cloud computing.

"In general terms, it’s the idea that your computer’s applications run somewhere on the “cloud”, that is to say, on someone else’s server accessed via the Internet. Instead of running program applications or storing data on your own computer, these functions are performed at remote servers which are connected to your computer through the Internet or other connections." (source: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm#cloudcomputing)

For every day use cloud computing is very handy and for business companies is really money and time saver. For example very known cloud computing service is Gmail or Picassa from Google. But the main question for me is in this context risk of this kind of services for regular user. When the user puts their data on cloud site he or she does not have anymore control on this data. The security of data fall on to cloud provider. Some examples what can happen with your data (everything from: http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs18-cyb.htm#cloudcomputing):

"Government investigators or civil litigants trying to subpoena information could approach the hosting company without informing the data's owners. The hosting company generally does not have the same motivation as the user to defend against disclosure of the information."

"Some companies could even willingly share sensitive data with marketing firms. So there is a privacy risk in putting your data in someone else's hands. Obviously, the safest approach is to maintain your data under your own control."

And the main problem here is that technology is so much more ahead then the law. This problem has two relevant things to think about. First is the ease with which we use computers and internet. So cloud computing can be rally the good guy. But on the other hand what about our data? How we can secure them and why we are not worried about them. In my opinion today cloud computing is somewhere between good and bad. I think that really is a good guy but only if users know how to use it and be aware of it's rights.

What do you think? Is cloud computing the bad or the good guy?