July 27, 2017

social media and blogging updates: control on free speech, DMOZ passes away

In this edition of social media and blogging updates, the highlight is news reports about efforts to control the content on the web.

China blocks WhatsApp to check a dead dissident from turning martyr

When Chinese authorities got information that people were using WhatsApp to share political views after Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo's death in jail, they used their IT machinery to disturb the working of WhatsApp. WhatsApp being an encrypted chat app, they perhaps could not play with the messages, but a large number of users have reported difficulty in accessing the app. 

Facebook and Instagram are already blocked in China. WhatsApp is not yet banned but as is known to be a usual practice, authorities often do not completely block a site or app but make it difficult to use it. It is also reported that photos and videos related to Liu have especially been blocked on the web.

On the Chinese chatting app WeChat, on which China has full control, private messages and other content on the dissident leader have been effectively blocked, say reports originating from China. 

And then China deletes Winnie the Pooh!

As if Chinese social media users were not having enough of 'Chinese Great Firewall', WeChat removed all images of Winnie the Pooh - the portly bear. The reason? The bear looks much like the Chinese premiere Xi Jinping!


Winnie the Pooh and Xi Jinping: too similar?

For this portly bear this is not the first time that it has been pulled down of social media. Four years back, when Winnie and Tigger were shown next to Obama and Xi walking side by side, the pic soon got popular and the Chinese authorities deleted it from all WeChat. 

A country can block websites worldwide

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled in the case of  Google vs  Equustek that a country has the right to prevent the world's internet users from accessing certain sites. EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), a non profit organization, intervened in the case and argued that such an injunction has wide ramifications and might be in conflict with the laws of other nations.

What it means is that if a company has a website operating in a country and the content in the local site has to be pulled down due to some local reason, the court can direct the company to remove  content from its website in other countries. Worse, it is supposed to be the duty of the company to ensure that the order does not get into conflict with the other country's laws.

You can see more details about the case and its implications on the EFF website.

Monkey's curse!

It is bizarre, more bizarre than a monkey taking his selfie. The cameraman whose equipment the macaque monkey used in an Indonesian forest is in ruins for supposedly hurting animal rights!

British wildlife photographer David Slater took this photograph in 2011 and became famous. After keeping his professional camera in 'ready' position for seven days in the jungles, he had got monkeys play with the camera and click themselves. Naruto, one of them clicked himself perfectly in a smiling pose. By all means it was a prized possession for David and he had a book published with these photos. But thanks to ugly court battles initiated by PETA, he is almost penniless now.

Most stupid or absurd it may look to you but what the so called wildlife rights protectors are claiming and are doggedly pursuing is that because the monkey himself clicked the selfie, he - and not David - has the copyright.


Selfie of Naruto the monkey on social media
Naruto the monkey: on the cover of David's book.
David claims that he was shooting macaque monkeys in Indonesia to highlight their plight, but never knew it would ruin his life.

It started with Wikipedia using the selfie and David asking it to take it down. Wikipedia claimed, the copyright of the selfie belonged to the monkey itself. Courts in the US have been ruling that animals can't have copyright, but that didn't stop PETA petitioning David in 2015 and persisting with their stand.

India gets the most traffic to Facebook, leaving US behind

Last week, we'd reported that Facebook has crossed 2 billion per month active viewership landmark. 

Facebook has now come out with break-up of this figure. India with 241 million pips the US (240 m) as the country with most FB users, with about 11% of traffic coming from it. Over 84% of Indian users access it through mobile phones. 

Among the cities with most FB users, Bangkok comes on top.

DMOZ is dead, long live open web directories!

One of the most trusted web directories, DMOZ, is dead. Yes, it has not been able to cope with the rush of new domain names being added to the web every second. 

It is reported that editors behind the open directory are working to revive it in some other form.

Philippine President admits of manipulating social media during elections last year

We have carried many reports earlier on use of social media by politicians, in many cases in a manipulative manner. 

A recent study has given details of how social media was abused during the elections in Philippines last year (We'd carry that report soon.) and when President Rodrigo Duterte was asked whether had spent over a hundred thousand dollars on trolls to defend him during elections and if he continued to use these tactics, he [perhaps inadvertently] replied saying he no longer did so. 

What an innocent admission from a politician!

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