Category Archives: Social Media

SOPA and PIPA Bills Postponed but What’s Next?

Google protesting SOPA - Against Internet CensureshipThe SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Internet Property Act) bills were put on the shelf last month because the public and internet community joined together and successfully convinced enough lawmakers in Washington that they were a bad idea.  The anti-piracy laws pushed by the Entertainment industry were so broadly written that they threatened the peoples’ right to freedom of speech, and paved the way for government censorship of the internet.   In addition, the ISPs, search engines, ad networks, payment companies and sites that provide shared content like YouTube and Facebook would potentially be run out of business because the demands made on them to enforce these laws would be impossible to meet.  Since the massive public outcry and internet blackout led by companies like Reddit, Google and Wikipedia on Jan 18th led to the bill’s being shelved just two days later, one would think that democracy prevailed and we can all move on, right?  According to a recent article on Gizmodo.com, this is not the case.  The push for uncompromising anti-piracy laws continues, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid still wants to censor the internet with a new bill hidden under the mask of cybersecurity. SOPA in sheep’s clothing.”    The following quote by former Senator Chris Dodd, who is now the head of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) provides a clue as to why these strict bills just won’t go away, “Those who count on quote Hollywood for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake.  Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

For those of you who are still fuzzy on what the SOPA bill was about, here’s Wikipedia.org’s description:

“The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a United States bill introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith (R-TX) to expand the ability of US law enforcement to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. Provisions include the requesting of court orders to bar advertising networks and payment facilities from conducting business with infringing websites, and search engines from linking to the sites, and court orders requiring Internet service providers to block access to the sites. The law would expand existing criminal laws to include unauthorized streaming of copyright material, imposing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.”

In other words, if this bill had passed the government would have had the right, without due process, to:

  • Immediately shut down any site that might be infringing on copyright laws
  • Force advertisers and companies like Paypal to stop doing business with these sites
  • Force the ISPs and search engines not to link to such sites
  • Throw anyone in jail for up to five years just for sharing content that has been copyrighted

It is disturbing that such loosely written laws that could potentially destroy the internet and threaten democracy were so seriously debated in Washington, and that they continue to show signs of life.  This enduring support from lawmakers will inevitably result in deepening the level of mistrust that the American people have for their political leaders.  Even more seriously, this alienation is giving rise to extreme groups that are threatening a “Cyber war” against the government.  Recently, the group Anonymous took credit for hacking the CIA’s website.

The postponement of the SOPA and PIPA bills proved that Americans still have a voice and that the internet is a free and powerful tool that can be used to alert lawmakers that they are not acting in the best interests of the people they serve.  Of course the movie and music makers have a right to shield themselves against piracy, but more fair and balanced laws are required.  Unfortunately, despite massive protests by millions, such laws do not seem to be in the works right now. The best case scenario in the near future is that, with the help of the internet, the people keep fighting and winning (while mistrust of the government deepens).  The worse case scenario is that these unpopular bills, in whatever mask they are wearing, actually become law.  And then what?  Tell me what you think.


Goodbye Alec Baldwin Tweets

Alec Baldwin Twitter

courtesy of radaronline.com

I followed Alec Baldwin on Twitter because he is a funny guy who is not afraid to let his true opinions be known and I found that refreshing and entertaining.  And, did I mention he is funny?  In my last post, I wrote about how social media is a tool that empowers people to connect with one another and bring about worldwide action practically overnight, as evidenced by the explosion of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  But upon learning that my favorite SNL host cancelled his Twitter account following an incident with American Airlines, I got to thinking that the immediacy and extent of reach social media offers is not always a good thing.

In case you haven’t heard, the Emmy-award winner apparently refused to stop playing a game called Words With Friends on his mobile device and turn it off when asked to by a flight attendant. Since the flight was about to depart, he was kicked off and had to board a new flight a little later.  Here are some of the tweets he fired off during the incident:

“Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt.”

“But, oddly, 30 Rock plays inflight on American. #theresalwaysunited”

 “Now on the 3 o’clock American flight. The flight attendants already look…..smarter.”

 #theresalwaysunited Last flight w American. Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950’s find jobs as flight attendants”

Here is the retaliation from American Airlines via its Facebook page:

“Since an extremely vocal customer has publicly identified himself as being removed from an American Airlines flight on Tuesday, Dec. 6, we have elected to provide the actual facts of the matter as well as the FAA regulations which American, and all airlines, must enforce.  This passenger declined to turn off his cell phone when asked to do so at the appropriate time. The passenger ultimately stood up (with the seat belt light still on for departure) and took his phone into the plane’s lavatory. He slammed the lavatory door so hard, the cockpit crew heard it and became alarmed…The passenger was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language. Given the facts above, the passenger was removed from the flight and denied boarding.”

And finally just for fun, here what Baldwin’s publicist tweeted as a response:

 “hey @American_AA: How come ok 4 other 1st class passengers 2 tweet while @alecbaldwin asked to leave while using his device? #hypocrisy.”

It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong here.  The point is that somehow the need to vent and get revenge makes people forget that their audience is made up of real people, and messages cannot be deleted from cyberspace once that send button is pressed.   Another example of the use (or abuse?) of social media for this destructive purpose can be found in the article, “Hilariously Awkward Facebook Interactions,” that I originally found on Mashable.  While I have to admit to cracking up while reading these, when I got to the last one, my jaw dropped and I was kind of cringing (in case my Dad reads this, you will have to find the details of the FB post I am referencing by clicking on the link.) Had this disgruntled teenager, pre-Facebook, decided to take revenge on his sister in a similar manner, he would maybe have had to go about it like this:  sneak out of his house (remember he was punished), go to the nearest library (if it was still open – no 24 hr. Kinkos back then) to photocopy the letter he found containing his sister’s private, shall we call it “love thoughts?”, then wake up the next day and stand in front of her school handing out copies of it while saying something like, “My sister is a slut. Read on.”  I know slightly crazy, short-tempered, childish people out there exist but maybe, just maybe, the lapse in time and face-to-face effort involved would have caused this kid to realize his plan for revenge was a bad idea. Or, maybe he would have revealed his sinister plan to a friend the night before, who would have convinced him that punching her was a better idea.

People saying and doing dumb things, and fighting and blabbering about it to anyone that will listen are nothing new. But, whether you are a celebrity or random high school kid, using social media to vent and extract revenge, well, you might want to think about it for a half-second first.

P.S. Alec Baldwin posted his side of the story on The Huffington Post if you’re interested:  My Flying Lesson.


%d bloggers like this: