On Tuesday August 30th (2016), it was reported that the German government had asked Facebook to remove hateful and illegal posts more quickly, as part of its corporate social responsibility. Social Media companies however are typically reluctant to be very proactive in their approach to such removal, preferring to rely on notifications from the users, because they do not want to be seen to edit the content that is shared since this might lead to them being labelled a publisher. The moment a social media company becomes a publisher it would become liable to media regulations and open to libel laws. This was also the position that Zuckerberg reaffirmed one day earlier during a Q&A in Italy where he said: “No, we’re a tech company, we’re not a media company,” Facebook builds “the tools, we do not produce any of the content.”
The POET (Public Outreach Engagement Tool) project is currently running a second round of interviews to map out how academics at the University of Nottingham are using social media in the context of public engagement, especially in regards to the Impact and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) agendas. We previously conducted one round of interviews with science researchers, and have held a workshop to think about what the output of this tool could look like. Our project is still at the stage where we are collecting information about how social media is used by academics as part of their working day – to what extent it is used, the feelings associated with using it, whether their motivations for using it are work related, and whether this tool would be useful for any current public engagement work.
Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions before signing up to a website or ordering something online? These long, wordy documents are a form of consumer protection designed to make sure we are fully informed when we agree to an online contract. They are supposed to ensure we are making a conscious decision to sign up to a service with full knowledge of the consequences.
The Social Media & Society conference series has been bringing together social media researchers annually since 2010. This year’s meeting in London (UK) was the first time it was held outside of Canada. For CaSMa this offered an excellent opportunity to present the results of the work Andrew Moffat at the Horizon CDT did for our POET project. Follow these links for more information about Andrew’s project, poster he presented at SM&S 16 and the report he wrote about his work.
As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Gada for the civic-engagement in the digital age project, we participated in the Connected Life 2016 conference that was held at the Oxford Internet Institute on June 20th and 21st. We were particularly interested in this conference because of the deliberate efforts by the (student) organizers to include not only academics but also activists and civic/civil-society NGOs among the speakers and discussion panels. While the first day of the conference consisted of academic talks, the second day was organized around workshops and panel discussions by activist/NGOs.
On June 2nd and June 3rd the biennale Danish conference on STS (DASTS16) was held at Aarhus, Denmark. The tagline for the conference was the “quintessential anti-determinist and anti-essentialist mantra of STS ‘It could have been different'”.
In the shadow of the ongoing debate over other Investigative Powers Bill, a debate where much of the rhetoric has been predominantly framed in terms of anti-terrorism and national-security, the National Crime Agency is currently busy with its own internal ‘future scoping’ exercise to examine the UK law enforcement community’s efforts regarding interceptions of communications and associated data. At the heart of this exercise is the question of identifying the boundaries of acceptability of such communications interceptions that delimits ‘policing by consent’ in the fight against serious and organized crime in a democratic society.
Over the last couple of weeks, Facebook has repeatedly had to defend itself against criticism about the way in which it makes editorial decisions when selecting stories that will appear on its ‘Trending Topics’ and ‘News Feed’.
At the heart of current online consumer protection is the concept of informed consent where by the prospective consumer makes a conscious decision to sign up to a service with full knowledge and consent to the consequences of doing so. Even in the newly signed EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will go into effect in 2018, this will not fundamentally change. For anyone who has ever used a commercial internet service however, and this included policy makers, it is glaringly obvious that there is a fundamental flaw in this approach, namely the assumption that the consumer has a good understanding of the contract that is being entered into.