Tim Cook
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Why is Tim Cook’s Personal Life News?

My colleague Mark Wilson takes on the task I failed to (but should have) in commentary: “Apple’s Tim Cook is gay—the fact it needs to be announced shows what’s wrong in tech“. The CEO’s admission, in a Bloomberg-Businessweek opinion piece, isn’t surprising. The news media’s overglowing reaction is the shocker, as Mark observes: “Websites have practically fallen over themselves to heap their praise on the announcement”.

What? Are bloggers or reporters afraid they might appear to be homophobic if neglecting to add their voice to the echo chamber? Many news writers called Tim Cook’s announcement courageous. This morning, in chat, I told Mark: “Your response to it is hugely courageous”. He chose not to join the echo chamber and even to risk recriminations for rightly questioning why so much news space was given to Apple’s CEO. [Read more]

Stormtroopers
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Twitter betrays You

Today, over at BetaNews, my colleague Mark Wilson asks:
Twitter may be within its rights to block ISIS beheading content, but is it right?” The social service did more—suspending accounts for some users who shared the gruesome video depicting the slaughter of front-line journalist James Foley, who was held in captivity for about two years. Mark writes:

Twitter has a responsibility to allow events to unfold without intervention. The sheer number of people using the site means that it is possible to get a fairly balanced view of what is going on in the world—do a little research and you should be able to find supporters of every side of just about any story or argument. But for this to work, censorship just cannot happen.

I agree but see far darker implications with respect to news reporting. [Read more]

Twitter Lane
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Twitter’s Defiance is Good News

I love Twitter, all the more since Eric Snowden’s revelations about the U.S. government’s secret spying program. The company largely stands apart from other techs’ positions, but not completely. In December, I scolded Twitter, along with Apple, Facebook, Google, and a smattering of others for their “disingenuous and self-serving” call for global government surveillance reform.

Today, Twitter tweaks the government regarding an agreement that expands disclosure of information requests, including those that fall under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In a startling act of defiance, Twitter chooses not to disclose the number of FISA and other national security-related requests, contending they’re scope is an “overly broad range”.[Read more]

My wife and I just returned home from watching “The Fifth Estate“. My problem isn’t the film but the trailer, which makes the movie look more like a political thriller. The film is nothing like that. I would have taken her to a different movie and seen this one alone, had I known what to really expect.

Every blogger or journalist should see this film. I can’t speak for total accuracy of portrayals, but the broader events fit with what I am familiar and the larger ethical quandaries are hugely relevant to anyone writing news.

Mad Catter
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This is How Free Speech Dies

“The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can’t do Groklaw without your input”, Pamela Jones writes today. “It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate”.

She responds to recent revelations that the U.S. government reads your email: “The owner of Lavabit tells us that he’s stopped using email and if we knew what he knew, we’d stop too. There is no way to do Groklaw without email”.[Read more]