Tag Archives: technology

Is Flickr Guilty of ‘Freemium Extortion’?

Clock
The clock is ticking for non-subscribing users of Flickr…

If you hit the Flickr Help Forum, you’ll currently find a thread of well over 8,000 posts relating to what some are describing as a blackmail scheme. Many of the comments do defend Flickr, although the defensive comments mainly come from a handful of supporters who post intensively. Whether that passes as credible support is open to debate, but there’s no doubt that a drastic policy change, announced by Flickr at the beginning of last November, has upset a lot of people. Have we really witnessed an extortion plot?…

WHAT HAPPENED AT FLICKR?

In May 2013, the then Flickr owners Yahoo scrapped a 300MB per month image upload limit for users with free accounts, and set an astronomical new maximum upload capacity of 1TB. Users with free accounts were told, at this point, that the new storage capacity was free to the photographer, and funded by the advertiser. No buts, no untils; that’s what they were told.

In spring 2018, SmugMug bought Flickr, expressing an intention to continue running the platform without significant change.

In November 2018, SmugMug U-turned on their previous assertion, warning that from January 2019, free Flickr accounts would have their maximum capacity limited to 1,000 photos in total, and threatening to delete all excess images after 5th February 2019.

In summary, users with free Flickr accounts were encouraged to upload a vast quantity of images on the basis that they would not have to pay, and then, after many had made major commitments to Flickr, they were told their work would be deleted if they did not pay. There isn’t even a way to put a positive spin on it. Continue reading Is Flickr Guilty of ‘Freemium Extortion’?

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10 Major Reasons Why Twitter Is The Best Social Media Platform

Why Twitter is the Best Social Media Site

I’ve criticised Twitter extensively on this blog, and I’m not about to retract any of my whining episodes. But I wouldn’t be complaining if I didn’t care, and the reason I care is that Twitter is not only the best social media platform; for many people it’s the only social media platform. I’m using this post to document why. Please be aware that the following points apply at the time of writing, but that policies can change…

TWITTER LETS USERS POST IN ANONYMITY

Oppressive social sites insist that users publish under their real names, because it increases the value of people’s personal data. The platforms claim they make the real-names-only insistence for safety reasons, but there’s nothing safe about forcing everyone to identify themselves in an unvetted public place. How safe would it be if everyone who walked into a night club was forced to wear a T-shirt with their legal name on it? Clearly, it would be a stalker’s, burglar’s, mugger’s, blackmailer’s and rapist’s charter. That’s the reality of real-name-only policies.

Real-name-only policies also inhibit humour, and other fundamental bases for online entertainment. Broadly, they stifle fun and promote an environment that’s little different from being at work.

Twitter has benefitted enormously from its freedom of identity. Not only does it have a fun and progressive vibe – it’s also become a home to major communities who, precisely because of their dependency on anonymity, cannot legitimately exist on Facebook or other oppressive sites. Yes, anonymity assists cowardly trolls to an extent, but the vibrancy and life it encourages almost infinitely outweighs the negatives. Continue reading 10 Major Reasons Why Twitter Is The Best Social Media Platform

Flagbot: The Censorship Protocol That Will Change YOUR Behaviour

Flagbots

Once upon a time, we all used to post on old-style, moderated forums. Forums were far from perfect, but one thing we could be sure of was that if we observed the forum rules, our accounts and profiles were safe. On most forums, moderators would even privately warn members if they were sailing close to a penalty of some kind. How different things are now that massive social media and publishing sites have become the hub of our online activity.

ENTER THE FLAGBOT…

Almost all large, user-generated content platforms now use ‘flagbots’ to moderate their sites. A flagbot is simply a piece of software designed to detect breaches of the Terms of Service, so a human moderator doesn’t have to do it. Great! It’s labour-saving, and that means the sites can spend their money on more important stuff, like… Well, spying on us and selling their findings to corporate thugs, obviously.

There are just one or two snags. The flagbots are engineered not only to detect ToS breaches, but also to actually take immediate, shoot-on-sight, punitive action. So if they get it wrong (and Snag 2 – flagbots have no sense, so they do get it wrong, a lot), masses of innocent users are punished for good behaviour. Continue reading Flagbot: The Censorship Protocol That Will Change YOUR Behaviour

Shadowban City: Why EVERY Twitter User Should Switch OFF Their Quality Filter

Twitter Quality Filter

The Twitter Quality Filter is an innocuous-looking selection in the Notifications tab of the site’s Settings suite. “Improves the quality of Tweets you’ll see”, it says. But that’s not all the Quality Filter does. What it actually does, is it shadowbans accounts that Twitter considers to be of low quality, within your personal space. That means when a “low quality” account follows you, you won’t see it in your followers list, and that could end up causing you problems.

Let’s say you’re followed by an account with views you find offensive. You want to block that account, right? Well, if you’ve left your Quality Filter in its default “on” state, and the offensive account does not meet Twitter’s quality threshold, you can’t block it, because you can’t see it in your Followers list. Continue reading Shadowban City: Why EVERY Twitter User Should Switch OFF Their Quality Filter

“Private Search Engines” and Their Deals With Oppressive Trackers

Private Search Engines

The “privacy” model has become a default business strategy for new search engines. Why? Because it sells. Given the typically inferior quality of their results, and their often uninspiring user-experience, “private search engines” routinely over-achieve in terms of growth. So unless they have a revolutionary new concept, anyone entering today’s search market is almost compelled to trade on privacy.

They’re all at it. Barely a week goes by without a new “private search” brand coming up in the #privacy tags on Twitter. Some are just a front for affliate marketers to peddle overpriced rubbish. Others, such as Search Encrypt – taken seriously by a lot of people – are listed as malware. Some, despite billing themselves as privacy protectors on Twitter, have no SSL and literally no privacy policy whatsoever. “Private search” has become a joke. It’s that same old bunch of shady chancers using the gimmick of the moment in the hope of becoming billionaires. But what about the few brands that manage to attract continuous applause? Have we not noticed that they’re in bed with the enemy?… Continue reading “Private Search Engines” and Their Deals With Oppressive Trackers

Why Deleting Your Social Media May Worsen Your Privacy

Delete Social Media

Deleting a social media account, or the content within it, has become a hot privacy topic in recent times. As more and more stories surface about the extent to which cyber giants collect and use our personal information, we’ve let the shock push us towards reflex action. How dare they quietly store private call logs and precise location info from our mobile phones, we think. How dare they record every move we make with a mouse, and tail us around the web logging our various site visits.

As we finally wake up to the reality that the whole internet is one big piece of spyware, the easiest solution is to blame Facebook, then promptly delete Facebook. Because that’s what certain influencers and high profile blogs are telling us to do. Continue reading Why Deleting Your Social Media May Worsen Your Privacy