Don’t Post ‘Irrelevant’ Comments on Facebook (Updated)

Hang in there just like that kitten on the poster, Mr. Zuckerberg. (flickr.com/gpaumier)

Tech startup personality and Rackspace Internet talking guy (seriously, what do you call Mr. Scoble, anyway?) Robert Scoble inadvertently ran afoul of Facebook’s vast, hydra-headed Cthulhu-armed cyber-nannyism today. This is news on a Saturday in early May:

…Robert Scoble, the well-known tech startup enthusiast, went to post a comment on a Facebook post written by Carnegie Mellon student (and TechCrunch commenter extraordinaire) Max Woolf about the nature of today’s tech blogging scene. Scoble’s comment itself was pretty par-for-the-course — generally agreeing with Woolf’s sentiments and adding in his own two cents.

But when Scoble went to click post, he received an odd error message… Read More

SOPA Opera

Megaupload and S.O.P.A. Spark Interest in Decentralized File-Sharing

Retroshare screengrab

Arrests, shutdowns of established file-sharing sites like Megaupload and legislation such as S.O.P.A. have driven users to seek a new breed of file-sharing destination. File-sharers are looking for security and privacy and they may have found it with newer solutions such as RetroShare and Tribler.

Naturally, since governments the world over are actively pursuing shutting down file-sharing in a variety of ways, anonymity and a lack of censorship are highly prized. TorrentFreak has more on why these and other options are gaining in popularity: Read More

Law and Order

Oregon Law Targeting Twitter Mobs Defeated by Twitter Mob

Oregon State Capitol, Salem

A proposed Oregon law that could have criminalized tweets about Occupy Wall Street has died in committee due to public outcry.

State senate bill 1534
would have made illegal the “use of electronic communication to solicit two or more persons to commit [a] specific crime at [a] specific time and location.” The now-dead bill would have carried penalties for using Twitter, Facebook, etc. to call on others to engage in criminal activity as severe as the punishment for actually committing the act.

Oregon State Sen. Doug Whitsett, the chief sponsor of the bill, said he was targeting “flash mob crimes,” in which many people descend on a specific location at a specific time to commit a crime, a scenario that was actually not completely made up: a “mob” of four people who “may be using some of the social media such as Facebook and Twitter to schedule an event if you will” robbed a Victoria’s Secret in Georgetown last summer, and gang members in New York reportedly used Twitter to coordinate the annual “Crips Holiday.” Read More

SOPA Opera

They Work For The Internet: Behind Silicon Alley All-Stars’ Marathon Coding Session at Tumblr to Fight Against Congress

Silicon Alley hits the political presses, snazzy logos and all.

DAVID KARP DOESN’T SEEM LIKELY FOR POLITICS. When the Tumblr founder and CEO explains what happened over the weekend, he speaks about it in his typically blazing conversational speed, a full paragraph at a time, with the intensity of someone who’s been sequestered on a coding project for the last three days:

“Basically,” he blasts off, “we had this gathering of the internet in our office, we had seventy people and a bunch of politicians on the phone”—and then pulls back to divest himself of credit—”though we didn’t organize the effort, it was the Demand Progress guys. We just put them up in our office, where we had forty-plus people around. We were in here all day on Saturday. We basically showed up to just say, ‘hey, anything we can develop we’ll help develop, in direct communication with dozens of people,’ and basically all of these founders and people in tech companies are standing by following all this,'” and by ‘this,’ Mr. Karp is referring to a piece of legislation going through Congress—”developing, working to figure out how they can seed it in their communities—propagate it—and get it out there. We literally just finished the copy, we had our team of engineers help build it.”

And yesterday morning, these efforts went live, the center of which was a quirky, live collage of user-submitted photos from those with jobs in the tech/online platform entitled I Work For The Internet that provoked the call to Mr. Karp. That was at the beginning of the day. Read More

SOPA Opera

Do Startups Lack Political Klout? Pushing the Innovation Agenda

Image via The Guardian


Tumblr’s 32.5 million users woke up last week to a vision of a dystopian future. ““WTF,” a frustrated fashionista working on her own startup wrote to Betabeat. “I can’t see any of my god damn archives. UGGGGHHH.”

Logging in to their dashboards, where they browse the stream of posts from the blogs they follow, users were greeted with text and images that were blacked out like the redacted sections of a classified briefing.

Those obscured blogs represented Tumblr’s take on American Censorship Day, a protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was going before a hearing of the Congressional Judiciary Committee that afternoon. The bill would allow companies to sue service providers like Tumblr or Facebook for hosting content like copyrighted music files or movies, a big reversal from the safe harbor provisions which had long defined internet piracy law.

The startup community, both entrepreneurs and the investors who back them, had been raising the alarm for several weeks about their concerns that this bill would cripple their ability to innovate and damage the internet economy. But if SOPA was the first real test of the political muscle of the entrepreneurs and small-business owners who are driving the tech sector, it was a test they would fail. Whether SOPA eventually becomes law or not, the issue provided a clear illustration to many in the startup world that they may be frighteningly unprepared to navigate the dangerous waters of Capitol Hill, where buttonholing trumps beta-testing and hard-nosed lobbying beats “likes.”

“We’ve got all these blogs and these Twitter followers, but when it comes to politics, I worry that we’re the tree falling in the wood and nobody is hearing us,” said Fred Wilson, New York’s most prominent venture capitalist and an outspoken opponent of the SOPA bill. Read More

SOPA Opera

Eric Schmidt Is No Fan of Censorship, Rips SOPA Act

Not a fan of censorship. Who knew!

It’s finally here! American Censorship Day is in full swing, with sites like AVC and upstart search engine DuckDuckGo censoring their banners in protest of the proposed anti-piracy bills going before a Congressional hearing. Yesterday the titans of the internet sent a letter to Coongress opposing the new SOPA bill. Sadly none of them have joined the American Censorship day movement. But luckily tech’s best big mouth, Eric Schmidt, got a few choice words in.

Back when he was CEO of Google, Mr. Schmidt was always getting into trouble for saying wild, borderline creepy stuff. But now that he is executive chairman, the man can finally let it rip without being the final word from Google. As Reuters reports, auring an appearance yesterday at MIT, Mr. Schmidt declared, “”The solutions are draconian. There’s a bill that would require (internet service providers) to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.” Read More


Google Didn’t Remove Police Brutality Porn, But They Did Scrub a Bunch of Other Stuff


The Atlantic‘s Rebecca Rosen takes note of Google’s latest Transparency Report, in which the company boasts of their refusal to comply with a request “from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality.” Wonderful! Unfortunately, they did remove a bunch of other stuff, the contents of which they’re not about to explain in anything but the most vague terms possible. After an extensive look into the context of the report, BetaBeat can sufficiently surmise this: They were not cat videos. Read More