“I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history,” writes Reddit's recently-departed interim CEO Ellen Pao in a Washington Post op-ed today. “And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack.” Read the rest
If you set out to create the platonic ideal of a badly considered anti-trolling bill that made a bunch of ineffectual gestures at ending harassment without regard to the collateral damage on everything else on the Internet, well, you'd be New Zealand's Parliament, apparently. Read the rest
What can we conclude from all this? A few things:
• Generally, trolling comments are nothing personal. Trolls project their insecurities onto others as a coping mechanism of sorts. They’re hurting, and they deal with it by making others hurt too.
• In the heat of the moment, as trolls are blowing off steam in comment sections around the Web, they forget that a real human being is on the other side reading what they’ve written. The Internet creates a feeling of distance — if you’re not standing in front of someone, it doesn’t feel like what you’re saying will actually hurt them.
• Sometimes, ignoring trolls and cyberbullies isn’t the best policy. A well-written response might just open the troll’s eyes and change their ways.
Struck by a succession of abusive scrawlings going live on its popular maps service, Google has apologized and promised to retool the service to prevent it from happening in future.
"This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries," wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, a Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, explaining how Google's system slurped up the offensive terms because of how it incorporates "online discussions" of particular places. "… This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for."
Earlier this week, it was found that when given offensive search terms, Google would return inappropriate locations. Queried with "nigga house," for example, Google would offer the White House.
Howard University, reported one internet user, "shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps."
The benefits of algorithmic changes will be seen soon, Fitzpatrick promised, and Google will continue to refine its software over time: "Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't."
Maps, like much in the Googleverse, is comprised significantly of information added by users or algorithmically incorporated into its dataset—unvetted and often dependent on community reporting when something goes awry.
Google recently shuttered another crowdsourced component of Google Maps due to repeated addition of naughty and offensive landscape features that were not, in fact, there. Read the rest
Rightcorp, the notorious, publicly traded copyright trolls, have warned investors that they're losing money despite a successful claim of mass extortion against alleged copyright infringers. Read the rest
Michael Geist writes, "The launch of the Canadian copyright notice system earlier this year raised serious concerns as Rightscorp, a U.S.-based anti-piracy company, sent notices that misstated Canadian law and demanded that users pay to settle claims." Read the rest
It's an incredibly arduous, tedious, and deliberately unfriendly process, but you can, in fact, opt out of the data-brokers that are most commonly used to doxx people, uncovering their home addresses, work details, and so on (but beware, you have to do this on a more-or-less monthly basis to stay out of their databases). Read the rest
Personal Audio is a patent troll that claims to own the process of sending audio around because they bought a patent from a guy who read Scientific American articles onto cassette tapes and sent them through the mail (seriously!). The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to invalidate this patent -- which Personal Audio is using to shake down all kinds of indie podcasters for protection money -- using a new, cheaper, streamlined process.
Personal Audio is fighting dirty. They've filed an expensive lawsuit outside of the patent proceeding, and subpoenaed the names and personal details of everyone who donated to the campaign against their patent, purely to raise the price of adjudicating their patent and to intimidate podcasters who gave to the litigation fund rather than paying off Personal Audio.
EFF is fighting back. At stake is the process that is supposed to fix one tiny corner of the patent quagmire -- if Personal Audio's tactic succeeds, it will kill Congress's patent-fix dead.
The Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School has offered free counsel to anyone who's worried about the subpoena. Read the rest
In a surprisingly sane ruling Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik found that an IP address is not sufficient evidence of the identity of a copyright infringer. The case involved the B-movie Elf-Man, whose production company have gained notoriety through trollish attacks on people alleged to have downloaded the movie over bittorrent. Read the rest
John Steele is the colorful copyright troll whose work in shaking down people by threatening to link their names to gay porn with spurious lawsuits has been augmented by a series of bizarre legal maneuvers, including allegedly stealing his caretaker's identity in order to create a disposable buffer between Steele and his operation.
MPHJ are the notorious patent trolls who claim that any business that scans documents and then emails them owes them $1,000 per employee. Their corporate structure is shrouded in mystery, hidden behind a nigh-impenetrable screen of shell companies, but thanks to a lawsuit the company has launched against the Federal Trade Commission, we're getting access to some details about their extortion racket. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Julie Samuels rounds up the most interesting tidbits including the fact that MPHJ believes that every business in America with more 100 employees owes them $1,000 per employee, no matter what industry the company is in.
MPHJ brought suit against the FTC because it claims that it has a First Amendment right to send threatening letters to small businesses. Read the rest