Monthly Archives: March 2012

On the Huffington Post: SXSW Struggles with Women, Bullying & Tech

Super proud to share that the Huffington Post has published a piece I wrote about sessions I attended at SXSW:

SXSW Struggles with Women, Bullying & Tech


Image credit: Julia Manzerova on Flickr


Building Human Rights into Social Networks #SXsafesocial

  1. The panel “How to Build a Social Network without Getting Users Killed” had a sensationalist-sounding title, but one founded in real concerns. Citizens are becoming citizen journalists, using social and online tools to share real-time information from breaking events. The Arab Spring revolutions became known as Twitter and Facebook revolutions because of the visible role those tools played as accelerators of existing sentiment and action. With this great scale and usage, social network platforms play a key role as a broker of access to information and access to ways to share information.

    But that power is tempered by networks that weren’t necessarily built to play a role in advocacy, and can easily be  manipulated by actors motivated to repress information, expression and ideas. Panelists Jillian York (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Ahmed Shibab-Eldin (Huffington Post), Danny O’Brien (Committee to Protect Journalists) and Sam Gregory (WITNESS) discussed the ways social networks have been manipulated, and what ways they can change to avoid manipulation in the future.
    With a veritable who’s who of the Twitter journalist corps in the room, the session was live-tweeted in detail. 
  2. Share
    The idea that one can bully a company into removing your content really irks me @jilliancyork #sxsafesocial
  3. York opened the discussion with a core idea: Companies can be bullied, manipulated and used to repress information, although, in a sense they are becoming communications utilities.
  4. Share
    During important time in Egypt, @jilliancyork says, @Ghonim page was taken down because he was anonymous. #sxsw #safesocial
  5. Share
    Why was @jilliancyork blog blocked by Yemen? Because her posts were spammed by pornographers. #safesocial #sxsw
  6. Share
    York: community policing is vulnerable to abuse for political purposes. Likely example of Moroccan athiest FB page removed. #sxsafesocial
  7. Facebook got a lot of (negative) attention not just because they are one of the most widely used tools but because of concerns about lack of transparency, inadequate response to user concerns and slow adaptation to needs of international users.
  8. Share
    .@jilliancyork: Facebook’s TOS is in 11 languages, but it’s not enough. It’s not in Arabic, for example. #sxsafesocial
  9. Share
    York: I pick on Facebook because they’ve been resistant to listening to complaints and concerns from users. #sxsafesocial
  10. Share
    York: Even though I’m not totally satisfied with Google’s #nymwars response, it showed they actually listened. #sxsafesocial
  11. Both panelists and listeners defended the social networks in one sense – they weren’t built to play pivotal roles in civil discourse. They were built by college students in dorm rooms trying to make it easier to keep up with their friends. They aren’t prepared for attacks from state level actors.
  12. Share
    #sxsafesocial state level actors now try attacking facebook, google, etc.
  13. Share
    at #sxsafesocial foreign govts love targeted phishing operations against activists
  14. Share
    Comment from @techsoc: some problems are just issues of scale. Platforms don’t have enough staff to address millions of users. #sxsafesocial
  15. A lot of the negative outcomes are the result of mistaken applications or abuse of spam policies.
  16. Share
    “algorithmic collateral damage” – algorithms aren’t built to detect human rights violations @danny_at_cpj #sxsafesocial
  17. As journalists adapt to their roles as curators and organizers of shared information, they will be targeted by actors seeking to repress information.
  18. Share
    O’Brien: you’re going to see more regimes going after data journalists because they’re the ones with the deepest knowledge. #sxsafesocial
  19. So what change is needed? Software developers need to understand that the decisions they make (perhaps in dorm rooms) may have future implications for human rights. Gregory in particular argued that communication and outreach needs to occur between the developer world and the human rights communities, to make sure human rights are “baked in” on the front end. 
  20. Share
    Designing for human rights and privacy needs to be embedded in developer mindset #sxsafesocial
  21. Share
    Are there ways to create a campaign to make tech wake up to privacy, rights, to leverage change? #SXsafesocial
  22. Share
    #sxsafesocial we should base our terms of service on the UN declaration of human rights.
  23. Share
    Audience comment: Many western CEOs and engineers are unaware that human rights violations are occurring on their platform. #sxsafesocial
  24. Journalist Brian Conley disrupted some of the assumptions underlying the conversation by pointing out that assumptions about working with software terms of service are based on typical American TOS. 
  25. Share
    Ht @BaghdadBrian: has anyone reviewed tos of social networks across countries? #sxsafesocial
  26. Finally, collaboratively created notes from the session are available on Google Docs. 
  27. Share
    Notes from today’s #sxsafesocial session: #sxsw

Jay-Z at SXSW: I’m funded and I’m stealth and my series A is a go

I told my brother Lucas J Meeker that I was seeing Jay Z at SXSW (long story, thanks American Express!) and I got this GENIUS in my inbox:

Now the year is ’12 and my start up is raw
In my iPhone reflection is a code ninja.
I got two choices y’all, pull out a card or,
Pounce on his LinkedIn, check in on FourSquare, friend him on Facebook, follow him on Path, send him a TextPlus, and Instagram me thumbs-upping and post that shit on his wall.
Now I ain’t trying to see no location based start up with Jake,
plus I got a few dollars and I can offer options to make my case.
So I, pull over to the South by Southwest Tech panel on how to brocode,
and hear, “Son do you know what I’m Pythoning you for?”
Cuz I’m funded and I’m stealth and series A is a go?
Do I look like Facebook, sir, I DON’T CODE.
Should I post on your wall or tweet hashtag SXSW some more?
“Well, you was networking at a panel on hipster whores.
Twitter handle, Southby badge, and step off of the floor,
into a stealth hipster coffee bar to talk some more.
Are you carrying a company card I know a lot of you A rounders are?”
I ain’t steppin outta shit without posting to my Path about it.
“Do you mind if ask about your idea on Quora a bit?
Well my ideas amazing and so is the app, and I know my rights so I’m gonna NDA that.
“Arent you sharp as a tack are you some kinda venture fund person?”
Nah, I aint cashed out hard, but I know a little bit, enough not to get jacked by a hipster keyboard jockey bitch.
“Well we’ll see how smart you are when the Facebook recruiters come.”