The Great Debate UK

from Jack Shafer:

If I unfollowed you, it’s because you tweeted about the World Cup

WC Tweet

At the rate I'm going, the number of people I follow on Twitter will have dropped from 640 to zero on July 13, after the last World Cup match concludes.

I've never been sentimental about Twitter, randomly unfollowing gassy and predictable feeds when flooded by their abundant and stupefying tweets, or pruning my list to make room for new voices. I can only assume that other Twitter devotees similarly budget their accounts, otherwise how could one keep up with the traffic?

Last month, soccer enthusiasts simplified the editing of my follow list by tweeting expansively about the World Cup. They published pre-game tweets. They live-tweeted matches. They offered post-game tweets. They tweeted about soccer fashion, about the officials' bad calls, about the stadiums, other fans, the weather, other tweets, and more. If you're a heavy Twitter user, you know what I'm talking about.

As a soccer agnostic, with no hatred for or interest in the game, these many tweets hold a negative value for me. So, on June 12, when Brazil took on Croatia in the first match, and fans filled Twitter with the written equivalent of a vuvuzela orchestra, I tweeted my minor rebellion: "If I unfollowed you, it's because you tweeted about the World Cup. Nothing personal."

Help, I want my email back…

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The web-based Heartbleed bug has dominated discussions about online security in recent days. We’ve been told to change passwords, and if you were a regular user of Mumsnet then you’ve probably had your data stolen, the forum said in a message earlier this week. While I was reading all of these articles not once did I think to actually change any of my passwords. This is not because I think that I am immune to Heartbleed and its evil ways, but rather I don’t think the data this super bug could steal from me would be of much use to anybody.

Take my email. First it started with my personal email, an account I have had since 2001, provided by a major internet company headed by an extremely glamorous CEO. For years now it has been hijacked by marketing types. I get hundreds of emails every day, all adverts. It’s worse than watching an episode of Game of Thrones in the US. There are literally adverts coming at me every minute of the day. Some even use my name in the subject line. Just today I have had a cleaning company asking me if I am ready for Easter (who gets ready for Easter???), a website telling me the secret to perfect “standout eyes” and an Easter gift from a clothing site.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Buying into Big Brother

Whatever high crimes and misdemeanors the National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden may or may not have perpetrated, he has at least in one regard done us all a favor. He has reminded us that we are all victims of unwarranted and inexcusable invasions of privacy by companies who collect our data as they do business with us.

Some, like Google and Facebook, pose primarily as software companies when their main revenue source, and their main business, is to mine data and sell advertisers access to customers. We knew this already, of course, though it seems many of us would prefer to forget the true nature of the technology firms that have boomed in the last decade. Seduced by their dazzling baubles, we have bought in to Big Brother without truly understanding the true price we are paying and will continue to pay for access to their brave new world.

from Paul Smalera:

What real Internet censorship looks like

Lately Internet users in the U.S. have been worried about censorship, copyright legalities and data privacy. Between Twitter’s new censorship policy, the global protests over SOPA/PIPA and ACTA and the outrage over Apple’s iOS allowing apps like Path to access the address book without prior approval, these fears have certainly seemed warranted. But we should also remember that Internet users around the world face far more insidious limitations and intrusions on their Internet usage -- practices, in fact, that would horrify the average American.

Sadly, most of the rest of the world has come to accept censorship as a necessary evil. Although I recently argued that Twitter’s censorship policy at least had the benefit of transparency, it’s still an unfortunate cost of doing global business for a company born and bred with the freedoms of the United States, and founded by tech pioneers whose opportunities and creativity stem directly from our Constitution. Yet by the standards of dictatorial regimes, Internet users in countries like China, Syria and Iran should consider themselves lucky if Twitter’s relatively modest censorship program actually keeps those countries’ governments from shutting down the service. As we are seeing around the world, chances are, unfortunately, it won’t.

from MediaFile:

Apple and Twitter: A New Power Duo?

One big winner coming out of Apple’s developers’ conference on Monday is Twitter.

Apple announced that the Internet microblogging service will be integrated directly into future versions of the iPhone and iPad software.

from Felix Salmon:

Understanding Twitter’s valuation

Count me in with Paul Kedrosky: there's something extremely irritating about Shira Ovide's Deal Journal blog post this morning kvetching about how high the mooted valuation of Twitter is.

The valuation -- somewhere between $8 billion and $10 billion -- is explicitly not based on Twitter's current revenues. Yet Ovide insists on calculating silly ratios designed to make the valuation look as outlandish as possible:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan, blasphemy, and a tale of two women

blasphemyprotestFor all the bad news coming out of Pakistan, you can't help but admire the courage of two very different women who did what their political leaders failed to do -- stood up to the religious right after the killing of Punjab governor Salman Taseer over his call for changes to the country's blasphemy laws.

One is Sherry Rehman, a politician from the ruling Pakistan People's Party, who first proposed amendments to the laws. The other is actress Veena Malik, who challenged the clerical establishment for criticising her for appearing on Indian reality show Big Boss.  I'm slightly uncomfortable about grouping the two together -- the fact that both are Pakistani women does not make them any more similar than say, for example, two Pakistani men living in Rawalpindi or  London. Yet at the same time, the idea that Pakistan can produce such different and outspoken women says a lot about the diversity and energy of a country which can be too easily written off as a failing state or  bastion of the Islamist religious right.

from Breakingviews:

Privacy is the Person of Last Year

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has been crowned Person of the Year by Time magazine. WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange, meanwhile, topped the associated reader poll. Uncommon levels of self-belief, and superior coding abilities, aren’t the only parallels between the two men. Both are leading the technological assault on privacy.

First Direct CEO Matt Colebrook answers your questions

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– Matt Colebrook is Chief Executive of online bank First Direct. The opinions expressed are his own. –mattcolbrook

In an article on 21 September, Matt Colebrook discussed the role of social media in banking, arguing that social networks are key for customer service as they enable customers to use and interact with banks whenever they want and from wherever they may be.

Matt Colebrook on the future of banking

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– Matt Colebrook is Chief Executive of online bank First Direct. The opinions expressed are his own. –

The 21st birthday of First Direct is as good a time as any to look back on changes within the financial industry and how it will continue to evolve.

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