Evidence that Twitter just gets you in trouble…

twitter-fight

In examining the way technology and digital media are governed legally and ethically, rather than focusing on a boring topic such as intellectual property, I decided to go the Donald Trump route (that would be shock and lewdness) and discuss things like indecency and twitter fights.

My Internet snapshot focused on a woman who was “flashed” via airdrive on a train by a man’s random genital photo. I imagine that was both scary and repulsive to her. She of course, contacted the police. As the perpetrator was able to keep himself anonymous, they didn’t and couldn’t do much to help her. As I read this article, I thought about all the times I had been “flashed” on my old Twitter account by random DMs pointing me to links or photos of pornography and other unasked for indecent proposals. Did I have a right to file suit against some one? And if so, who? The perpetrators more than covered their tracks. Should I sue Twitter? Who do I hold responsible for this violation?
It seems a few people have asked this question when something happens on Twitter that they don’t quite like. One mother had a child whose classmates utilized twitter to send out her naked photos. Rather than just suing the parents of the clearly at fault classmates, she decided to go for the bigger fish as well: The school district and Twitter. As the photo had been retweeted many times, she felt Twitter was liable. It’s definitely the more lucrative option of who to go after.
But Twitter has gotten other people in trouble as well. Things like defamation of character and violating privacy are now issues one can run into on Twitter. George Zimmerman’s parents sued Roseanne bar for tweeting to her followers their address. Actor James Woods is suing an anonymous twitter user for $10 million for calling him a cocaine addict. But are these things worth suing for? What about our First Amendment rights? What is the line in the public domain of the internet?
And apparently, now people are even becoming protective of the online content they tweet. One twitter user is suing Conan O’Brian for stealing his tweets and using them as jokes. Only problem is: Tweets aren’t copyrighted and are sent out into the public domain. Right?

When we think about how technology is impacting our laws, there are probably more questions than answers. Twitter alone is a minefield of legal implications that have not yet been addressed. The amount of celebrity feuds that happen on Twitter are a reason to steer clear! The legal system hasn’t caught up with the speed of technology, that’s for sure. The lines are getting muddy and I’m not sure anybody really knows how to handle the ocean of implications that arise from digital media’s rapid technological development.

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The Haves and Have nots…or maybe not.

Every year there is a huge user conference (the biggest software user conference in the world, actually) at Salesforce.com in San Francisco, CA. It’s everything from dog and pony show to entertainment to politics (Will.I.Am. AND Hillary Clinton performed/spoke last year) to educational work sessions.  Last year I had the pleasure of attending a session that focused on the digital divide between African & South American countries and the rest of the world. One of the things that really stuck out to me in that session was the fact that while most people in these countries lack access to computers, 75% have access to smart phones.

When we look at the idea of “information access”, it is difficult these days to separate technology from that. One statistic that stood out in my mind from the asynchronous session was that 15% of Black households were “offline” as opposed to 14% of White households.  However, according to the 2013 Census, only 61.3% of Black households have a computer with internet access (as opposed to 77.4% of white households). So what does this actually mean? Well going back to my earlier paragraph, it points to the fact that while many households don’t have computers, they do have smart phones. They have other ways of getting “online”. And so while there is a huge disparity between White and Black households when it comes to owning a computer, the gap is significantly closed when we strip out the media consumption device of “Computer” and focus only on online access.

One of my favorite examples of this is the phenomenon known as “Black Twitter”. Since so many Black households are now “online”, we are seeing a subculture that really results from the media consumption avenue of Twitter, which not so coincidentally is primarily accessed via a smartphone. Wikipedia has a pretty succinct definition for those that are unfamiliar. But it’s a great example of how the digital divide is getting more narrow due to media convergence. I feel like I used a lot of random class concepts in this blog so apologies- sometimes I get into my own head a bit too much! But those were my thoughts on the topic for this week. I hope everyone can see the connections as I can.