Social media and tech updates: Google Drive down, ultra rights up, privacy a fundamental right in India

Google Drive shuts down, breaking many hearts

If you thought, Google is invincible, at least in the internet world, Google gave you evidence that it is not. When it went down for some time on 7th September, those who depend on Drive for various purposes including collaboration though Google Docs suite of online tools and online sharing of files and pictures were a worried lot. Not only were their resources not available, their trust that Google would keep their resources intact even if their laptops might fail them due to a malware attack or hardware glitch, was shattered.

Luckily, the service breakdown was not worldwide and it was resolved for most users within two hours.

Just for record, Google Drive also went down in January this year for about two hours.

The way ultra right websites are creating storm on the web

Stormfront, the hyper-nationalist/ neo-Nazi website that was in operation since 1990, has been pulled down by its registrar. The site, its owners and members have been linked with many hate crimes including murder of about a hundred people. Under local laws, Google had removed the site from many country indexes.

Stormfront had over 300000 registered users who used to spread white supremacist hatred and violence wherever they could. It is reported to have experienced huge traffic spikes all through the Presidential debate in the US in which Donald Trump often gave pro-white and rightist statements.

Another such website, The Daily Stormer, has also been removed last month following racist rally and violence in Charlottesville, USA. The site owner wanted to host the site it on other web hosts who either refused or removed after investigation into the site's credentials. This led to another site, PunishedStormer, which too has been renedered inaccessible. However, the founder- editor of the sites, Andrew Anglin, recently tweeted a series of Tweets saying he is not a neo-Nazi and is fighting for freedom of expression!

Interestingly, Anglin's free speech bogey got a shot in the arm when his article was taken down by Gab, a social network promoting right ideas, and it stoked debate around free speech.

It is reported that finding hosts against him, Anglin has hosted the site on the dark web.

The less privileged do adopt social media but late?

A recent study by Pew Research Center on use of social media for news among Americans shows that about two-thirds of them get at least some news from the social media. One-fifth of Americans are reported to be using social media very often to get news.

What is more relevant is that the use of social media for news has not risen among the youth and whites and has gone down among the well-educated lot; on the other hand, it has grown significantly among the older (50 years plus), non-whites and less-educated people. Let me add that one year's change does not make a trend.

Just for record, Facebook happens to be the biggest source of news, followed by YouTube. Not Twitter! But wait, this is because of a very large user base of Facebook. Otherwise, among those who use a particular social media, the percentage of users using it for news is the highest in the case of Twitter.

Indian supreme court gives citizens the fundamental right to privacy

The debate around privacy has been raging in India over the last many years in the face of points and counter-points for controlling social media and chat apps, the IT Act and the regulatory authority TRAI seeking public views on its sections and so on.

India is one of the few nations in the world to have introduced a unique identity for its citizens. When this was made mandatory for getting welfare funds and services, and then for banking and tax purposes, concerned citizen groups raised alarm and took the government to the apex court.

In its historic judgement on August 24, the Constitutional Bench of the court ruled that privacy was a fundamental right though not written in the constitution. Though the unique identity (called Aadhar) is/ was in question, the privacy ruling will now have a huge bearing on cases relating to online content and social media control.