The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

TAG | social networking

Courthouse News Service reports that a virginia judge has ruled Facebook “Likes” are not protected speech.

The case was related to employees of the Hampton VA sheriff’s office who “Liked” the current sheriff’s opponent in the last election. After he was re-elected, he fired many of the people who had supported his opponent.

The judge ruled that posts on Facebook would have been protected, but not simple Likes.

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This article from Threatpost discusses a study out of CMU of Chinese censorship of their home grown social networking websites.

Now that they are blocking most of the western social media sites entirely, the focus of censorship is internal. Obviously blocking the internal sites as well would defeat the purpose, so they are selectively deleting posts instead. This study looks at the rate at which posts with sensitive key words are removed from the services.

It clearly shows how censorship can be taken to the next level when the censor controls the websites as well as the network.

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Back in February, British Prime Minister David Cameron gave a speech where he strongly opposed the censorship and crack down on protesters in Egypt.

For decades, some have argued that stability required highly controlling regimes, and that reform and openness would put that stability at risk. So, the argument went, countries like Britain faced a choice between our interests and our values. And to be honest, we should acknowledge that sometimes we have made such calculations in the past. But I say that is a false choice.
As recent events have confirmed, denying people their basic rights does not preserve stability, rather the reverse. Our interests lie in upholding our values – in insisting on the right to peaceful protest, in freedom of speech and the internet, in freedom of assembly and the rule of law. But these are not just our values, but the entitlement of people everywhere; of people in Tahrir Square as much as Trafalgar Square.

Now, with the riots in England he feels that restricting access to social media, and censoring free speech is necessary to maintain order.

Everyone watching these horrific actions will be struck by how they were organised via social media. Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill. And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them. So we are working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality. I have also asked the police if they need any other new powers. Police were facing a new circumstance where rioters were using the BlackBerry Messenger service, a closed network, to organise riots. We’ve got to examine that and work out how to get ahead of them.

It is easy to condemn censorship in others, but it seems expedient when one is trying to control one’s own population. When in power, the difference between justifiable actions and tyranny is largely a matter of “us” vs “them”. “We” are good and would not abuse this power while “they” use censorship to keep the boot of oppression on their people.

The trouble is, it is very hard to know when one has moved past the tipping point, and powerful self justification comes easily to intelligent leaders and their advisors. As has been said many times “no man is the villein of his own story”.

This is a Rubicon I hope the UK can hold back from crossing.

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Face book announced that it will soon start automatically suggesting your name for tagging photos any time it thinks it recognizes you in a picture. This automatic facial recognition is the default and will be done unless you explicitly opt out.

It looks like you need to customize your privacy settings to disable this. In Facebook, look under the “account” menu and select “Privacy Settings”.

From there click the “Customize settings” link at the bottom of the table. Within there, look for “Suggest photos of me to friends”, and set it to “Disabled”.

I suspect that few people will simply stumble on that.

Other people tagging you in photos can lead to embarrassment you might want to avoid. Having your name suggested just makes that more likely.

While you are at it, you might want to change the setting that allows others to “check you in” to locations. That can tell thieves you are away from home or stalkers where to find you.

CNN has a good article on the announcement. Facebook lets users opt out of facial recognition – CNN.com

 

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