Tag Archives: Social Media

Texas Sued Over Law That Stops Social Media Sites from Banning Users



The State of Texas has been sued over its new law that prevents social media platforms from banning users over their political views, The Texas Tribune reported.

The Texas bill is called HB 20. Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law. According to The Texas Tribune, the law states that “social media platforms with over 50 million monthly users in the U.S. – a threshold that includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube – must publicly report details about content removal and account suspensions biannually. The platforms are also required to establish an easily accessible complaint system, where users could flag violations of the law.”

The lawsuit was filed by NetChoice, LLC and Computer & Communications Industry Association, which represent Google and Twitter in the lawsuit. It was filed against Texas Governor Ken Paxton (in his official capacity as Attorney General of Texas). The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Austin Division.

Here is a key point from the lawsuit:

…The Commerce Clause does not permit a single state to dictate the rules of content for the global Internet. H.B. 20 would regulate wholly-out-of-state conduct – balkanizing the Internet by imposing onerous extraterritorial regulation on the operation of covered social media platforms. This vastly exceeds Texas’s regulatory purview and will impede commerce across the Internet…

USA Today described this Texas law as a “social media censorship law”. According to USA Today, “Texas lawmakers were motivated in large part by the suspensions of former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol”.

Personally, I don’t think this Texas law stands much of a chance in court. USA Today reported that a federal judge blocked a similar Florida law in June, one day before it could take effect.


Trump Plans to Start his Own Social Media Platform



A spokesman for Donald Trump announced on Fox News “#MediaBuzz” that Trump will be returning to social media with his own platform. It appears that the platform will be released in two or three months. No further information has been released other than that the new platform “is going to be big”.

Personally, I’m not surprised that Trump wants to make his own social media platform. As you may remember, he was permanently suspended from Twitter on January 8, 2021, days after the riot at the U.S. Capitol. In a blog post, Twitter stated the reason for the permanent suspension was “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Facebook also suspended Trump’s account for roughly the same reason.

It is possible that Trump (and whomever is helping to create his new social media platform) believe that he would be safe there to post whatever her wants to. I cannot imagine what his own platform would consider egregious enough for them to decide to suspend Trump’s account.

The trick is finding a web-hosting company that will accept Trump’s new social media platform. Gab, (another right-wing social media platform), has a history of having its web hosting company drop them. A quick look at Gab’s Wikipedia page lists that Apple declined Gab’s submission of its app to the App Store in 2016. Google removed Gab’s app from its Play Store for violating policy against hate speech.

In 2018, PayPal, GoDaddy, and Medium terminated their relationship with Gab one day after the the Pittsburg synagogue shooting (and after posts by the shooter were found on Gab). Later that day, Gab’s hosting provider, Joylent, gave them a limited time to move out before it terminated service. In 2018, Gab started using Epik as a domain registrar, and may potentially be using Cloudflare (a company that provides content delivery and DDoS mitigation). In 2019, Amazon Web Services ceased Gab’s fundraising site due to Amazon’s policy on hateful conduct.

Parler (another right-wing social media platform) has also faced difficulties. BuzzFeed News reported in January of 2021 that Amazon suspended Parler from Amazon Web Services. The reason for the suspension was because Amazon became unconvinced that Parler could effectively moderate calls for violence and hate speech.

NPR reported that Parler sued Amazon and asked a federal judge to force Amazon to restore Parler’s web-hosting service. The judge declined to do so. Engadget later reported that Parler found web-hosting with Epik – the same company that hosts Gab.

It might be possible for Trump to launch his own social media platform. If he does, I suspect it would pull like-minded users from Twitter, Facebook, Gab and Parler. However, unless Trump also creates his own web-hosting company – there will always be a chance that his social media platform could be taken offline.


Sri Lanka’s Government Blocked Social Media After Attacks



A wave of bombings happened in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. Targets included churches, hotels, and an apartment complex. At least 290 people have been killed and 500 were injured. While this was happening, Sri Lanka’s government blocked access to social media sites.

Sri Lanka’s government moved to block Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram – all owned by Facebook – on Sunday out of concern that “false news reports… spreading through social media” could lead to violence. The services will be suspended until investigations into the blasts that killed more than 200 people are concluded, the government said. Non-Facebook social media services, including YouTube and Viber have also been suspended, but Facebook and WhatsApp are dominant platforms in the country.

The Guardian reported that this was not the first time Sri Lanka’s government blocked social media in an effort to prevent misinformation from spreading and resulting in violence. In March of 2018, the government blocked several social media platforms amid hardline Buddhist violence against Muslims. Some of that violence was fulled by hate speech and false rumors that were spread on social media.

Social media websites need to vastly improve their ability to keep people safe. These companies need to wake up and realize that what what is said – and passed around – on the internet can have devastating real-world repercussions. They must do a better job of removing misinformation.

Personally, based on Sri Lanka’s history, I think their government did the right thing by blocking social media websites while police were investigating the cause of the bombings. I think this action likely prevented people, in a time of crisis, from being unfairly influenced to target other people with violence. The government may have saved some innocent people from being harmed or killed.

The big problem, of course, is that blocking social media was necessary. If Facebook (and other social media companies) were quicker to remove misinformation, Sri Lanka’s government would not have needed to block it. People could have used social media to let their families know that they were safe.

Another thing to consider is that many governments are not going to block social media platforms in their countries during a crisis. This could lead to misinformation spread online resulting in additional violence in “the real world”. Social media companies need to be more responsible about what they allow to spread on their platforms.


Google+ Offers Download of Data



Announced back in October, Google+ is coming to an untimely demise on 2nd April, leaving many of us somewhat uncomfortable with the thought of having to move house over to Facebook. Never mind Facebook’s total disregard for privacy, the user interface is complete rubbish…

While Google+ may be ending, Google is making it easy to retrieve information from the service and all users should have received an email giving the details of what needs to be done.

The download and save links to a support page which provides guidance on downloading all your Google+ information, including photos. It’s straightforward to do, but Google does take a few days to assemble the data and make it ready for download. Google then makes the data set available for around a week. I requested the download on 3rd February and received a notification that it was ready on 7th Feb.

Once downloaded, the archive can be unpacked. Google sorts the data into folders relating to your activity on Google+ and provides some additional html files to make browsing the data a little easier. Having said that, if you are only after your pictures, a quick search from a file manager for jpg will get quick results.

My online life with Google+ was quite small at 108 MB, but a friend who was an enthusiastic contributor to the server downloaded several gigs of data.

While it’s sad to see Google+ going away, it’s great to see Google making it easy to retain your Google+ data.


Ferrari Arrives On Instagram



Ferrari LogoWhen it comes to objects of desire, a Ferrari is close to the top of many a wish list. The gorgeous shapes, the fabulous sound and rich racing history are all part of the aura surrounding the Italian company and the famous prancing horse. It’s perhaps a little surprising then that it’s taken this long for Ferrari to join Instagram and show off the red supercars in all their glory.

Social media isn’t new to Ferrari, with active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, but Instagram is the obvious platform for pictures and now, sound. As well as the visual treats, Ferrari have recorded aural delights to get more senses involved. It’s all very current too with the first set of photos fresh from last weekend’s Mille Miglia.

Lined up. #Ferrari #RossoFerrari #MilleMiglia

A photo posted by Ferrari (@ferrari) on

Follow @Ferrari to keep those dreams alive!


Instagram to Manage Your Feed for You



instagram logoIt’s a trend that seems unstoppable. More and more, social media services are implementing algorithms that automatically manage what you do and don’t see. First it was Facebook, then Twitter. Now, Instagram is doing the same thing. Earlier this month, the photo-sharing service posted this on its blog:

You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.

If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.

We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months.

This change has been met with outrage from the Instagram community. There’s a Change.org petition that’s demanding to Keep Instagram Chronological. The petition has racked up over 280,000 signatures so far.

Every time a social network announces a change like this, it’s met with a serious amount of brushback from its user base. And then, a month or so after the change is implemented, everyone quiets down and just goes along with it. The only real way a user can potentially impact these monolithic networks is to leave and never come back. But few are willing to make that commitment.

If you’re an Instagram user and you appreciate the natural, chronological feed you’ve always had, enjoy it while it lasts. This change is expected to take hold in the next few months and it’s unlikely it’ll ever go back.


TweetDeck rolls out New Teams Feature



tweetdeck logoI prefer to access my various Twitter accounts thru the TweetDeck web interface. It organizes all of the different accounts and their associated streams very well, and it makes it much easier and more enjoyable to use Twitter.

Today, TweetDeck announced a new “Teams” feature, which will allow multiple users to access the same Twitter accounts but those users won’t need to share passwords in order to log in. From the Twitter blog, linked above:

TweetDeck Teams is a simple solution to Twitter account sharing. It enables you to delegate access to as many people as you like, and remove accounts when they no longer need access.

TweetDeck Teams works by having the owner (Admin) of one Twitter account create a team inside of TweetDeck and from there, that owner can add other users (Contributors). Those users confirm their place on the team thru an e-mail invitation. Account owners can also remove team members anytime. More from the Twitter blog:

Admins are users who sign in to TweetDeck with their personal account. As an admin, the user can Tweet from the account (plus build lists, follow or unfollow accounts, send Tweets and schedule Tweets), add or remove team members and view the team. An admin cannot access the account off of TweetDeck or change the credentials or password.

And contributors are those people who can Tweet from and act as the account (plus build lists, follow or unfollow accounts, send Tweets and schedule Tweets). Contributors cannot view, add or remove team members, and can not access the account outside of TweetDeck.

Continue reading TweetDeck rolls out New Teams Feature