Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

Lingering concerns about Twitter’s censorship policy

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 31, 2012 15:03 UTC

There’s a bit of a debate going about whether Twitter’s new censorship policy is reasonable or not. My colleague Paul Smalera wrote one of the better posts leaning toward Twitter’s policy having some merits, in the way it makes it easier for those outside censoring countries to see what’s being censored. But I also see some flaws with this, which Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin helped me realize. She calls it “a polite step down a slippery slope”

First, the very act of tweets being censored in those countries, even if those outside the country can read them, removes an early warning system for the folks in country to know of incoming danger. Let’s say, for example, there is a riot on the march toward the village they live in, or there is police activity by an oppressive regime under which they’re force to live headed their way. Twitter’s supposedly enlightened method of censorship isn’t going to protect them.

You also can’t assume everyone is a geek. Some activists use Twitter simply because it’s a broadcast medium and have no idea how to hack their way around censorship. They may have no knowledge, for example, about Tor, an application that can help sidestep the type of blocks that countries try to use to stop citizens from reaching certain bits of information or, in some cases, the entire Internet.

According to Xeni, the real reason Twitter would want to implement this policy is because they want to have a physical presence in these countries. And they can’t have boots on the ground without giving in to some of the demands of the governments in places like China, India, and in the UK, where there are more nuanced defamation laws.

It’s easy to accept censorship in other countries when you’re privileged enough to know what’s being censored. I would like to assume that the ability to see what is being censored will lead to something being done by outside parties, but that requires political courage, and possibly even military action, that many countries ravaged by global recession neither have the resources nor the stomach for.

President Obama hangs out on Google+

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 30, 2012 23:39 UTC


A social media first occurred this evening when President Barack Obama held a Google+ Hangout to take live questions from five Americans and a few people who were taped beforehand, including a homeless veteran and an Occupy protester.

He answered questions about the economy, job creation, small business, and the use of drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama referenced a New York Times story on the use of drones, which he called “overwritten,” and said that the use of drones had not resulted in an unusual number of civilian casualties. Asked about the anti-piracy legislation that set the Internet on fire, Obama said, ”When SOPA came up on the hill, we expressed some concerns about the way the legislation had been written.”

Almost as fascinating as the Hangout itself was the discussion of the Hangout on Twitter.

Disturbing development at Twitter: countries will silence tweets

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 27, 2012 12:23 UTC

Word came down yesterday that Twitter will begin giving the governments of some countries the ability to request to have messages censored over their service. This is a big change from Twitter General Counsel Alex Macgillivray’s previous statement from last year that the company was “from the free speech wing of the free speech party.”

Twitter claims they have not yet censored anyone under this new policy and will tell the public when they do, possibly with greater cooperation with the website Chilling Effects.

One has to wonder if the Arab Spring could have happened the way it did under this new policy. Since censored tweets will still be available for people outside of the country doing the censoring, does that simply make those banned tweets more powerful? If everyone else in the world can see what is being blocked, will it have the opposite of the intended effect and bring greater worldwide attention to possible injustices?

Congressman Darrell Issa, Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales talk SOPA

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 27, 2012 11:20 UTC

Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys Storify’d my live tweeting of a great panel here at Davos that included California congressman Darrell Issa, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond, Scribd founder Trip Adler, and moderated by Mashable’s Pete Cashmore. A full video of the session can be found here on Mashable.

I interviewed congressman Issa after the panel, here’s the video.


[View the story "SOPA panel with Jimmy Wales, Rep. Darrell Issa from Davos, Switzerland" on Storify]

What does the future hold for RIM and Blackberry?

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 25, 2012 07:47 UTC

Will a change in leadership at Research In Motion help change the prospects of this floundering company? The prospects do not appear good. Here’s my video report on location from Davos, Switzerland.

The Davos Rookie

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 23, 2012 15:19 UTC

I’m going to level with you. I have little more than a vague idea of what I’ve gotten myself into here. An assembly of heads of state, titans of industry, the cliched 1%. I feel a bit like a fish out of water. What on earth is someone like me going to do among these power brokers?

I’ve got questions, for sure. What, if anything, has been accomplished as a result of the World Economic Forum since its inception? Going by Mohamed El-Erian’s assessment, it seems not much. I don’t say this out of malice. It seems like a well-intentioned idea to bring together people who have the power to effect change in the world. Nobody is expecting them to solve the euro zone crisis over the course of a week, but have they seized that opportunity because of coming here? I arrive with an open mind but a skeptical pair of eyes.

Are there examples we can point to where a Davos meeting led to the brokering of some improvement in the world? Perhaps we may never know. Many meetings here happen behind closed doors, out of the sight of nosy press like me.

Anonymous takes down several websites over shutdown of Megaupload.com

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 19, 2012 23:45 UTC

Earlier today Reuters reported that file sharing website Megaupload.com was taken offline and charged with copyright infringement by a U.S. grand jury.

In response, the loose knit hacker collective “Anonymous” has organized a protest using a brute force method of flooding a website with so many requests it falls under its own weight, a tactic they call a LOIC (low orbit ion cannon) or DOS attack (denial of service).

The victims of their attack so far: the Department of Justice, the RIAA, MPAA, and Universal Music. As of the publishing of this post, only the MPAA had regained its footing and the other sites remained inaccessible.

BuzzFeed gets serious

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 13, 2012 03:15 UTC

BuzzFeed has been getting a lot of attention lately, for their high profile hire of well respected political reporter Ben Smith, from Politico and for a recent influx of $15.5 million in new investment. I headed to BuzzFeed headquarters downtown here in Soho to find out what they’re planning to do with the money and how they’re going to differentiate themselves from sites like the Huffington Post.

Interview with founder and CEO Jonah Peretti and politics editor-in-chief Ben Smith

Interview with political reporter and video researching wunderkind Andrew Kaczynski

Matthew Keys joins Reuters as Deputy Social Media Editor

Anthony De Rosa
Jan 9, 2012 14:05 UTC

I am pleased to announce that Matthew Keys will be joining Reuters as our Deputy Social Media Editor. He will produce online content for Reuters.com; expand our presence on TwitterFacebookGoogle+Tumblr and on new platforms; and play a key role in helping to train Reuters journalists on best practices in social media.

Matthew is well known in social media circles as a reliable source for news and was recently nominated for an Online News Association award in the category of “Breaking News excellence” for his coverage of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

Matthew is a recognized leader in helping journalists turn social media into valuable reporting tools. His online tools—a journalists guide for Tumblr, a guide for finding breaking news video on YouTube, as well as a guide for finding breaking news images on Twitter –have helped many journalists taking their first steps into social media.

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