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Status Updates

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Pupils, passwords and privacy. A law that went into effect on January1st has the parents of some Illinois school children asking themselves how much of their children’s privacy they’re willing to forgo to keep cyberbullying in check. The new Prairie State law requires students to surrender their social-media-site passwords to school officials if—according to a… Continue Reading

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Social drinkers. The founder of the Lagunitas Brewing Company decided to drop a lawsuit that he’d filed against Sierra Nevada for trademark infringement after beer drinkers expressed their disapproval of the suit on Twitter. The complaint claimed the letters “IPA” on the label for Sierra Nevada’s Hop Hunter IPA mimicked the “IPA” on Lagunitas’ India… Continue Reading

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A Craigslist conviction. The highest court in Massachusetts upheld the conviction under the Bay State’s anti-harassment statute of a couple who posted fake Craigslist advertisements that caused a great deal of trouble for their neighbors. The convicted couple, William and Gail Johnson, had purchased a tract of land in 2003 with the intention to subdivide… Continue Reading

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Poster’s remorse. It’s official – as of January 1st, social media sites accessible in California had to begin allowing users younger than 18 “to remove, or to request and obtain removal of” posts they regret. The legislation, known as the “Eraser Button Law,” applies to all web sites that are directed at minors or that have… Continue Reading

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Fake-out stakeout. For several months now, we’ve been covering the increasingly prevalent use of social media by law enforcement agencies conducting criminal investigations. In one such instance, the FBI sent a link to a fabricated news story to the MySpace page of a high-school-bombing-threat suspect to lure him into downloading malware that revealed his whereabouts…. Continue Reading

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Facebook fit. It’s been said that a species’ evolutionary success depends more on its adaptability than any other trait. That apparently holds true for a social media platform’s staying power, too. Facebook continues to flourish despite two hugely disruptive developments that, at least in theory, should have had a negative impact on its standing in… Continue Reading

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An undercover app. Internet innovators have for some time been trying to cash in on the public’s mounting desire for anonymous messaging platforms, with varied success. As we recently noted, at least 11 students at colleges around the country have been tracked down and arrested for threatening violence on the purportedly anonymous messaging app Yik… Continue Reading

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Instagrowth. Instagram’s relationship with Facebook is turning out to be mutually beneficial. Since Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, the photo sharing platform has passed the 300-million-user mark, surpassing Twitter’s 284 million active-user base. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom attributes his social media company’s growth to its decision to translate its app into more… Continue Reading

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Block party. Twitter has revamped its anti-harassment policies to make it easier to report harassment on the network or to block another account. The change follows recent highly-publicized instances of “Twitter harassment,” such as the Gamergate controversy, in which certain prominent women in the videogame industry reportedly became targets of harassing tweets. Twitter users will… Continue Reading

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Yik Yak arrests.  For several months now we at Socially Aware have been writing about how college students have been using the purportedly anonymous messaging app Yik Yak to communicate deeply offensive remarks and threats of violence.  Now The Huffington Post reports that students at seven universities have been arrested for doing just that.  Since… Continue Reading

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Between a lock and a hard place. Should search engines be responsible for verifying the legitimacy of the companies they include in their search results? A locksmith in Lorton, Virginia, is claiming that they should. Mark Baldino of Baldino’s Lock & Key asserts that, despite having paid $1 million in advertising fees to search engines… Continue Reading

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Search stripped? European regulators have several beefs with Google—the digital giant has been accused of tax avoidance and violations of data protection laws—but right now they’re focused on whether the company, which reportedly controls 90% of the online search market in Europe, is wielding illegal monopolistic power. Based on allegations that Google is manipulating search… Continue Reading

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Forget me not. Twitter launched just eight years ago with this tweet from company co-founder, Jack Dorsey:               (Not nearly as dramatic as “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you”— but I digress.)  Since that inaugural tweet, hundreds of billions of tweets have flowed through Twitter’s network, with 500… Continue Reading

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Commercial free content. Would you pay to diminish the number of ads that appear on your screen while you surf the Web? Google is testing a service that will allow users to do just that. The service, called Contributor, will give visitors to ten web sites that Google has partnered with the opportunity to pay… Continue Reading

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A saving grace for search results. In the first case since 2007 to address the issue, a California state court judge recently held that Google’s search results are in fact protected by U.S. free speech laws, and that Google is therefore entitled to rank  the results it delivers in response to queries however it determines… Continue Reading

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Pay to play. Attention, marketing professionals: The free ride that Facebook has been giving to advertisers is coming to end. We’ve recently discussed Facebook’s recently ban on “like” gating. Now, inspired by its users’ dissatisfaction with the prevalence of promotional content on the Facebook platform, the social media giant will start lowering the priority of… Continue Reading

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Laundry time. Make sure you are getting what you’re paying for. That’s good advice in a lot of areas of human endeavor and it’s certainly true of online advertising. We wrote last month about efforts by the online advertising industry to impose standards on how viewable an ad must be.  Now advertisers have a new… Continue Reading

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That’s a lot of latte. It turns out that Starbucks—not a company in the mobile payments business—was the first company to make in-person payments by mobile phone mainstream. According to recent statements by the coffee giant’s representatives, Starbucks shops handled seven million mobile payments weekly last year, accounting for a whopping 90% of all mobile… Continue Reading

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Tale of the tape. Remember the 1980s? Back then, watching a movie on demand meant visiting your local video store and renting the video tape version of the film that you wanted to watch (assuming it was available). During that era, Congress passed – and President Reagan signed into law – the Video Privacy Protection Act… Continue Reading

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 Lyfted documents? Uber and Lyft, two ride-sharing companies that are both expanding rapidly and trying to take business away from traditional taxis in cities across the nation, have never been on the best of terms. Their rivalry just found its way into the courts, as Lyft has sued its former chief operating officer Travis VanderZanden,… Continue Reading

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Bad chords. A European musician’s attempt to stop a negative concert review from continuing to appear in Internet search results is raising questions about whether the EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling could prevent the Internet from being a source of objective truth.  Established in May by the European Court of Justice, the right to… Continue Reading

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Cuffed links. The Spanish parliament has passed what is commonly known as the “Google tax,” although it’s technically not a tax and doesn’t apply solely to Google. Rather, it’s an intellectual property law requiring online news aggregators to pay fees for describing and linking to stories published by Spanish newspapers; failure to pay can expose… Continue Reading

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Cover your Glass. We’ve addressed in Socially Aware the growing legal hysteria stirred up by Google Glass and other wearable technology. Just as Polaroid cameras were once banned from beach resorts and even the Washington Monument for crying out loud, expect to see all types of businesses and organizations – bars, restaurants, banks, schools, museums, casinos,… Continue Reading

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Back to the future. Socially Aware readers – and editors – of, uhm, a certain age will fondly recall how, during the early days of the dotcom era, we hung out on message boards and in chat rooms discussing (some might say arguing about) politics, sports, movies, music, you name it – with people we’d never… Continue Reading