Archive for the 'Legal' Category

Twitter’s Policy Change: Censorship or Aid to Free Speech ?

February 2, 2012

While many have deemed Twitter’s recent announcement to block tweets country-by-country an act of censorship, even vowing to boycott the social media giant, Zeynep Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina, says otherwise.

“Twitter’s latest policy is purposefully designed to allow Twitter to exist as a platform… making it as hard as possible for governments to censor content,” explains Tufekci in a recent blog post.

According to Tufekci, the policy, which proclaims to take down content only within the jurisdiction of countries with imposed legal orders, actually provides tools for advocates of free speech. She argues that Twitter has effectively focused its policy — previously it was forced to take down restricted content from global viewing — and has made its decisions more transparent. A list of blocked tweets will be published with links to original tweets as well as the country’s court order. “So everyone who is not… [in] that particular country can see what it’s about.”

Furthermore, Tufekci explains that users can easily circumvent blocked content in their country by manually overriding their computer’s country setting.  “[By] making such censorship visible and easily circumventable, it is at least giving the global civic society as well as citizens of a country [the ability] to recognize what’s going on and respond.”

See Zeynup Tufekci discuss social media’s role on the Arab Spring at our BRITE ’12 Conference (March 5-6, NYC).



Case Study: The Scrap Over Scrabulous

January 12, 2011

Scrabulous on FacebookAs Facebook grew dramatically over 2007-08, there was one dominant gaming application growing with it: Scrabulous. Users were having fun, connecting with their friends around the world, and, well, wasting a little time, playing an adaptation of the Scrabble board game developed by two brother’s in India, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla.

Columbia Professor Rajiv Kohli spoke at BRITE ’10 about his development of a case study on the challenges faced by the major players—Hasbro and Mattel (the rights holders of Scrabble), the Agarwalla brothers, and Facebook—in what was to become a legal, financial and networking battle.

Scrabulous on Facebook details the backstory leading up to the challenge that was about to take place in 2008 over the existence of the Scrabulous application. The case covers Hasbro’s video game strategy, financial details of the online gaming industry, software piracy figures (an estimated $48B lost globally by 2008), and the growth of the Facebook network.

Click here to request copies of the case.

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