Friday, May 23, 2014

Twitter Censorship

Key story in the New York Times this week, written by Robert Mackey, on a recent mobilization of Twitter's country-specific censorship policy. As discussed in class, Twitter implemented the policy in 2012, to comply with local laws. While the policy shift was met with much uproar and concerns about censorship, a growing number of sites and services have implemented similar policies, including popular search engine Google. This week marks the first time Twitter has agreed to withhold content in Pakistan, as a result of five complaints or flags filed by a Pakistani bureaucrat, which "asked Twitter to shield his compatriots from exposure to accounts, tweets or searches of the social network that he described as “blasphemous” or “unethical.”" As Mackey writes:
All five of those requests were honored by the company, meaning that Twitter users in Pakistan can no longer see the content that so disturbed the bureaucrat, Abdul Batin of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority: crude drawings of the Prophet Muhammad, photographs of burning Qurans, and messages from a handful of anti-Islam bloggers and an American porn star who now attends Duke University. [...] This censorship comes as challenges to Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law have become increasingly deadly, amid a flurry of arrests, killings and assassination attempts on secularists.
Be sure to read the whole story, which you can access here (and/or through UTLibrary).

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

SMC316 Winter 2014 is Live!

Welcome to this year's iteration of SMC316: Social Technology and Networks (note the new course code and shorter name). One of the best, but also most challenging, things about teaching this course is how quickly examples become totally passé. While I scavenge the inter webs to find more recent videos, news items and other topics around which to anchor our in-class and online discussions, take a gander at some recent themes or "memes" that are already out of date - via Wired's "10 Best Memes of 2013" list. We may very well end up revisiting some of these - although now as historical artifacts, rather than emergent phenomena.

In the meantime, here's a mash-up of two "old" meme-level songs/videos (one from last year and one from the year before) that I'm sure you're all sick of by now ;)