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News

Twitter to Censor Tweets! Is Twitter Selling Out?

One of the best things about Twitter is that there is no censorship, there are no real controls either and no expectations about what is being shared on it. The free for all nature actually leads to some amazing discussions more often that say hate speech or even spam.

All this is might change very soon as Twitter will soon start blocking certain tweets to make sure they adhere to local laws of this country.

Twitter’s Country specific Settings!

Twitter_Settings_Country

  • If you sign-in to your Twitter account and look up your Account Settings.
  • It will show you the specific country that Twitter has classified your account under.

Thought users can change the country in the settings, it does not mean they will avoid their country specific censorship of Twitter.

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Twitter associates the country specific information of an account thanks to a cookie stored on a browser. This probably will make it difficult for users to change count specific details just via settings.

Why Twitter has chosen to censor certain Tweets?

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Actually, this is something that is unavoidable. Every country defines freedom of expression in different ways. For example in the US, all statements are legal. While spreading racist content is illegal in France and Germany.

There is also the question of copyright laws which can change from country to country.

Back in India, we have had the issue of internet censorship being raised. But without an actual law specifying what exactly is illegal, I doubt Twitter will filter or block tweets in India except the ones that are breaking laws in many countries.

The fact is this will make if easier for Twitter to grow a lot more in certain countries. This might make it a lot more locally relevant at the price of being globally relevant.

Do you think Twitter is selling out on its principles? Do drop in your comments.

(via Twitter Blog)

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News

Does India Really Want Internet Censorship Like China?

Internet censorship was something we never imagined in India. There have been calls for bans on social media networks by some groups but no one really gave such ideas any real importance. Then came the bombshell from Indian Government’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal who first wanted internet websites to screen all their content. Screening online content is just another definition of ‘online censorship’.

Today according to this report on NDTV, a Delhi High Court Judge warned Facebook and Google that if they failed to create a mechanism to remove objectionable online content, they would block these websites like China does.

Why was the case heard in Delhi High Court?

The case against 21 internet sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more for objectionable content has been registered in Delhi High Court. These are complaints against posts and images that are objectionable. I am not a lawyer, but it is a little strange to ask for filtering of content created by billions of people every day. The case is not about removing objectionable content but filtering this content.

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After the court’s observations, the government of India has also now sanctioned prosecuting these websites.

What could happen next?

The worst case scenario, is that websites like Facebook and Google cloud be blocked. I do not think Google or Facebook will adhere to any screening unless India does have a law that defines what exactly needs to be blocked, removed or screened. Personally I doubt the Indian government would like to see itself in a club that contains mostly autocratic regimes from around the world.

Also these are observations of a High Court in Delhi. The Supreme Court could also be approached to also address the issue if websites could be held accountable for content created by third parties (users).

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Google and Facebook’s Defence…

Almost every social network has a procedure to remove objectionable content from its website. Another issues is India does not have a Data Protection Act which lays down privacy laws for online content. So internet companies tend to adhere to community rules from the US.

Google is not even hosting the content but only pointing to links to content written and hosted independently.

Holding websites responsible for user-generated content is the same as holding a telephone company responsible for what was discussed on the phone by users.

As someone who lives in India, a country with free press and no internet censorship, the suggestion that China is a model we want to follow – is very depressing and disheartening. 🙁

Web censorship of any kind tends to be abused and ends up killing innovation. What are your views on internet censorship and the possibility of it happening in India? Do drop in your comments.

Related: Read about SOPA which could give rise to Internet Censorship in the U.S.

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Analysis

Interview – Sitakanta Ray on starting MySmartPrice

More than a year ago, I reviewed MySmartPrice.com a website that allows people to compare the best prices from online retailers. For example you could look up the prices of a particular book from 4-5 websites that sold books. I was a little intrigued by this start-up as I knew its founder.

He was a not the typical 20 something, who are usually the ones who end up creating web start-up companies. He graduated from IIM – Bangalore and gave up a well-paying job along with financial security to create his own web start-up.

Sitakanta_MSP_Interview

I decided to catch up with Sitakanta Ray the founder of MySmartPrice and interview him on his experience of creating an internet start-up company in India.

Q. Could you tell us about your enterprise MySmartPrice.com and what it does?

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With MySmartPrice, we want to answer two important questions that every shopper has in mind. They are ‘What to buy?’ and ‘Where to buy it?’. Currently MySmartPrice allows people to quickly compare price of a product across stores. At this point of time we cover mobiles, books, cameras, games and laptops. Over the next few months we will cover all major product categories. Our goal is to become the easiest way to get the best price, for anything sold online.

Apart from this we are also working on answering the what to buy question as well. You can find our first attempt at solving this problem at mysmartprice.com/mobile/finder. We plan to roll out some major improvements to this part of the product in the new future.

Q. MySmartPrice seems to be India centric at the moment and even though India has a very bright future when it comes to online retailing, it also has an unpredictable future. How difficult was it to draw up a business plan?

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I think once things become more predictable in an industry, start-ups will find it more difficult to succeed. The fact is big companies have more resource (both talent and money) than start-ups and a lot more experience about operating in stable, predictable times. The hope is to get in the game, understand it and get a big enough lead before they direct their best resources to the game.
Let me confess that I do worry about our own ability to put together the right team, move at the right speed and execute well. But I am much more comfortable about future of e-commerce in India. There are two simple observations that give me the confidence

Our cities are getting congested, rents are going up and we are having more money and less time. All of these will make online commerce more attractive.

If you look at our Tier-II and Tier-III cities, then you will find that supply is not keeping pace with demand. There has been a lot of increase in affordability. TV shows have taken the aspirations higher but supply is lagging behind. People are turning to online shopping to solve that issue.

Having said that now we work on a 12 month plan. There are so many variables, many of which we have no clue about. The idea is to keep extending that time period as we get more clarity both about the industry and our own abilities.

Q. What is your team like? Who came up with the idea of MySmartPrice?

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MySmartPrice was started by me and my friend Sulakshan. We have discussed hundreds of ideas in the past 10 years but price comparison was never one of them!! We sort of stumbled onto the idea of MySmartPrice.
I was coming back to coding after 5 years and needed a good challenge. Came across isbn.net.in of Swaroopch and found the problem interesting. So when I finally showed the idea to Sulakshan, he got excited about the possibility for e-commerce in general. That is how we moved from a self assigned project to a proper startup.

Q. How is MySmartPrice going to monetize? Will it serve up ads or sponsored reviews? Or are you looking at a different model which is not generic and relevant only to MySmartPrice?

Monetization is one of the areas where we are most clueless :-). For now we are surviving on AdSense money. The plan is to improve upon affiliate income part. Apart from that we have some ideas but we will need a higher scale to get them to work. It will be interesting to see how they will stack up when the hit the real world.
The trick will be to get the product execution right. If we can truly become the easiest way to find the best price, then monetization will not be a challenge.

Q. We often hear of young kids in their 20s creating a start-up after college well before having personal responsibilities like marriage and kids; in your case it (might?) be different. What were your challenges?

I wish someone had told me that starting your own company when you are young is really a better idea. We had been thinking of starting a company ever since we graduated from college. Every time we used to delay the decision by saying that it will be less risky once we cross this certain milestones. After 10 years we realized that entrepreneurship is never going to be a safe option so we better take the plunge now.
So finally when we decided to take the plunge, I had a 7 month old daughter and my wife had just left her job as well. So everyone in both the families completely freaked when I first mentioned about leaving my job. Fortunately my wife stood by me during that period. In a way that I have been a boring conservative guy all my life worked in my favour :-). Everyone assumed that I must have some Plan-B in my mind even though I had none.

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Q. You were in IIM – Bangalore and worked in finance domain for years. I heard you went back to coding after a good 5 years. Why would someone do that? What is love for coding or just that MySmartPrice needed a coding team more than a management team?

Once a geek, always a geek :-). In a way I realized how much I enjoy coding only once I stopped coding. On a more serious note, the final decision was  a combination of both my passion and the need of the product. We wanted to build the easiest option to find the best price. Making a product that is absolutely easy and intuitive to use is something that gets Sulakshan excited, whereas I get my kick out of working with millions of records of data and deriving sense out of them. That is how we ended up with this division.

In India, starting new companies is difficult especially for people coming from an academical and services background. There is always family pressure to not start a business as it is termed ‘risky’. What were your challenges and advice to others creating start-ups.

I can talk about geeks and technology companies alone because I have no clue about any other business. (How much clue I have about technology businesses will be known in a couple of years only) If any geek out there is holding back because of worries about “what if my startup fails” then I will ask him to stop worrying right away. The probability a good geek will go jobless because of a failed startup is definitely less than Shahrukh going without a film offer because of some failed movie.

Having said that I can say that creating the product is definitely not the toughest part because we already know a good deal about it. Getting people to notice your product and hiring the talent required by the product are the toughest parts. It may be a good idea to learn about these things also, preferably at someone else’s company. By the way we are hiring. 🙂

Categories
Analysis

Apple iPad 3; worth waiting or not?

Apple’s latest tablet in the iPad series that is iPad 3 is on its way and will be launched in the first quarter of 2012. As expected the internet and tech blogs are flooded with thousands of rumor related to iPad. Most of them are just gonna be rumors and we’re not going to repeat them here. We have just created a list of expected features of iPad 3 and based on them we will tell you whether it’s worth waiting for iPad 3 or you should buy an iPad 2 right now. Let’s have a look at them:

Expected features of Apple iPad 3:

  1. Retina/HD display: Currently this feature is in iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S and most probably this feature will be there in iPad 3. A retina display not only gives you a very good screen graphics quality but it also enables to run many new applications which are based on Retina display only and gives you a better user experiences of those apps. Although the display of iPad 2 is good too and there’s no other tablet in the market which’s having this Retina display.
  2. A6/Quad core Processor: This thing is also expected in iPad as Apple always upgrades the processor of their new product. If new quad-core processor is there in iPad 3 you should definitely wait for it as this high-speed processor will support so many new application and will give a better graphic quality. It will obviously increase the processing speed hence lesser time to do your tasks.
  3. Siri: The artificial intelligence feature that made the iPhone 4S popular. If it comes in the new iPad then you should definitely wait for it and I think it will be there. But it’s totally your personal choice whether you want Siri in the new iPad or not. Some people are waiting for iPad 3 just because of Siri.
  4. Better Camera: A new 8 M.P camera in iPad 3 is expected but the camera of iPad 2 is good too. I don’t think waiting for iPad 3 just because of a good camera is a nice idea.
  5. Screen Size: Rumors says the new iPad is going to have a 7″ display but I don’t think it’s true, Apple won’t make iPads having screen size smaller than the current size. However they might launch two different iPads for that.
  6. Battery Life: The new iPad will definitely have a better battery life which might increase its cost as well. But if you are getting a nice battery life in a Tablet PC then you should wait for it as battery life of a tablet matters a lot.
  7. Price: Price is a main factor here. The cost of iPad 3 will be either equal to iPad 2 or it will be little expensive. If it will be the same as iPad 2 then Apple will slash the prices of iPad 2 by $100. That means even if you are planning to buy iPad 2 you should wait till the launch of iPad 3.
Well according to these points it’s quite clear that even if you are planning to buy iPad 2, you should wait for some time as you will either get a cheaper iPad 2 or you can get a new iPad with awesome new features. So just wait for some time to get a better deal. Stay connected for more updates on iPad.

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Analysis

Top 10 Tech Moments of 2011

The year started with civil revolutions happening in Egypt, where a lot of credit (sometimes unfairly) was heaped on the role played by social media. By the end of the year Facebook had competition, Steve Jobs was no longer around and companies like Skype and Motorola had new owners.

Here are the 10 most interesting moments in technology in 2011.

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#1. Egypt’s Revolution

The year started with Facebook being used to organize protests against the then government in Egypt. The world itself did not pay much attention until Egypt decided to block internet access to all its country.

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The internet community started supporting the protests on social media websites and Egyptian protests intensified finally getting rid of its undemocratic government. The best tribute to Facebook came with ordinary Egyptians carrying posters thanking its role in the revolution.

#2. Steve Jobs presents iPad 2

Steve Jobs was ill and was already on leave from regular CEO duties at Apple. Jobs did show up one last time, at a keynote event for Apple and introduced iPad 2 to a rousing reception.

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iPad 2 has been a blockbuster hit for Apple in 2011 and rumours are that Apple is scrambling to release iPad 3 on Steve Jobs birth anniversary.

#3. Google has a new CEO

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin decided to hire a professional as a CEO. His name was Eric Schmidt. Schmidt managed to look after Google quite well for over 10 years but 2011 was the year the passing of the torch was done. Larry Page took over as CEO of Google in April 2011.

Larry Page has now presided over shutting down the not so popular Google services and also the introducing Google Plus.

#4. Google’s New Baby: Google+

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Google had been working on a new social network for many months. It finally unveiled the new weapon against Facebook. The name was Google+ and it sort of borrowed ideas from Twitter and Facebook.

It did race to 10 million users in 2 weeks, but it has hardly dented Facebook as the undisputed king of social media. But it will be interesting to see how Google keeps tweaking and improving Google+ to match up to Facebook.

#5. Google Buys Motorola

Android OS never had its own hardware for optimal performance. This is what probably prompted Google in buying Motorola for $12.5 Billion. Motorola is an iconic company in the cell phone market but it had been losing out to Nokia, Samsung and Apple over the past few years.

We should expect to see a lot of new great products from Motorola in 2012.

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#6. Apple Rise to top

Apple overtook Microsoft in terms of profit. It had defeated its arch-nemesis in terms of profits. Apple rose to become the most valued company in 2011, with stock prices going through the roof. It apparently has more cash reserves than the US does as country. It will be interesting to see how Apple conducts itself now that it is no longer the underdog.

#7. Microsoft Buys Skype

Skype is one of the most used messenger for video chatting. Microsoft bought the company for a cool $8 Billion. This was Microsoft biggest acquisition but even months later, it is unclear how Microsoft will leverage Skype. Maybe with Windows 8 release in 2012, it might bring about something interesting.

#8. Steve Jobs Passes Away

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The magician at Apple, finally succumbed to cancer on October 05, 2011. Apple fans across the world were in mourning after Steve Jobs passed away. Tributes showered in from heads of states, politicians and his contemporaries in the technology world.

#9. Facebook’s Reacts to Google+ with Timelines

As Google+ rose to prominence, Facebook felt the heat. Facebook could take its user for granted for a long time but with Google+ around they had to pick up their game.

They introduced a massive re-design change called Timelines. Timelines has be received with mixed reviews and many are unhappy about it being so easy for other to look up their old Facebook updates. Timelines is still being unveiled slowly and the jury is still out on whether Facebook has come up with a winner.

#10. BlackBerry Outage

If you were a blackberry user, you probably were a victim of this outage. Blackberry’s messaging network had a downtime which lasted not for hours but for days. The outage was fixed but it will take some time to repair the damage done to BlackBerry’s reputation.

The year 2011 was full of ups and downs in the tech world. Famous technologists died, big companies and services flopped while newer names came into prominence. The year 2012 will probably be full of stories with its origins in this year.

Hope you enjoyed our coverage over the past year and let me wish all our readers a Happy New Year.

Categories
Tips

Privacy bug in Facebook Timeline cover photos

Well just think before you upload a new cover photo on the recently launched Facebook Timeline profile. For those who don’t know, a cover photo is the new banner or header of your profile on Facebook. You can change it and upload a new cover photo or select from the existing photos anytime you want to.

But there’s a privacy bug (feature according to Facebook) in these cover photos. These cover photos are public and anyone on Facebook can access it and view or download your photo even in high-resolution. Moreover not just the current cover photo, but your whole cover photos album is public. Let’s have a look at few things you should know about these cover pics.

  • Cover Photos are ‘Public’ and anyone on Facebook can see it.
  • Not just your current cover photo, but your whole album is publicly visible.
  • This album is visible to people in your restricted list as well.
  • People can download or view all your cover photos.
  • Unfortunately there’s no way of hiding a cover photo or its album. It’s public by default.
  • You have to manually delete a cover photo to hide it from public.

Keeping these photos public isn’t a good idea and there should be an option of making this album private. I hope Facebook will change it after another legal action against them for invading user privacy.

Editor’s Note: We missed that Facebook informs about public status of a cover photo as cited by Dnyanesh Mankar. Still we feel that the entire album should not have been made public by default.

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Analysis

Journey Of A Thousand Posts [TDIS]

I recently completed a thousand posts on Devils’ Workshop. I am not particular about numbers and was not aware of being so close to the milestone. Thanks to my friend and colleague [email protected] for a timely tweet reminding me, that I was nearing a 1000 posts on DW. That tweet got me thinking about my journey as a professional blogger.

I am a professional blogger today but it was not something I had planned. At my previous job, I felt stuck. The routine work paid well but was boring and uninspiring. After a long day of work, I would spend hours trying to write a short story or update my personal blog. In other words I was falling in love with writing.

Vivek Jain a friend and later a rtCamper, read a couple of posts on my blog and introduced me to Rahul Bansal (the guy who started DW). He was looking for someone to run this blog. He was himself making his move from being a blogger to an entrepreneur and I was the lucky one who became Editor-in-Chief of this blog. 🙂

Journey_Blogging

Lost in the Woods!

In the beginning I felt lost. I was blogging for a well established blog and in charge of it. It had a ready-made community around it. What did I know about Blogging when I took charge? Absolutely nothing.

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I tried to write what I felt would be useful for others. Writing posts after posts, I felt sometimes like giving up blogging entirely. I felt totally lost in this new world. I could write well and I knew that but I started wondering if I could blog well.

Then one fine day, Google created their social experiment called Google Buzz. I simply did not like it and wondered why did Google bother with such a social network and worse embed it into my Gmail. I stepped out of my comfort zone as a blogger and wrote a blog post exclaiming why Google should have just bought Twitter instead of creating Buzz.

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The post was not a very popular one but it was appreciated by people whose opinion I respected. With that post I could say, I found my blogging voice and no longer felt lost.

Think Different!

‘Think Different’ was a slogan for Apple’s advertising campaign. I am not a Apple fan particularly but a big fan of this quote. I might have written some decent posts but I still did not know if I could make a career in blogging. Blogging was fun but at times frustrating. Also you spend a lot of time alone, work at nights and read a lot. You end up reading a lot of things which are repetitive and sometimes your writing becomes predictable.

Then a movie named ‘Inception’ was released and one Sunday afternoon I toyed with the idea of comparing the movie’s storyline with the realities of social media. I did not like the post at all but it did start me off ‘thinking differently’ about my blogging. I ended up writing about how Inception the movie was similar to Blogging. This time the post became quite popular. 🙂

Making a Difference

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As a blogger you can sometimes feel like you are not making much of a difference. Early this year wrote a post about the SpeakAsia scam. It was a Ponzi scheme and thousands were signing up. My post was well appreciated by many and some even changed their mind about investing in such a scheme. It was very pleasing to know that what I wrote was making a true difference to someone. That post made me learn to be proud of being a blogger and the difference they can make.

Thanks…

I learnt a lot of things as a blogger. I am not entirely proud of all my posts but not really embarrassed by any one of them either. There are many people who I would thank for making and shaping my blogging journey. Firstly I would thank Rahul , who gave me this opportunity to run Devils’ Workshop. It is a credit to him that he allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn blogging at my own pace, in my own space. I would have to thank all the bloggers I have worked with. Each one has taught me something importantly good.

After a thousand posts, I am nowhere close to being satisfied but I know what I want to do. The last thousand posts were very eventful and great fun, hopefully the next thousand will be even more eventful and fun.

About TDIS: Thank Devil Its Sunday [TDIS] are posts which are not the regular Dw fare about tutorials, how tos and updates. Posts under TDIS are usually more casual and personal.

(Image via Colherada cultural )

Categories
Tips

How to deal with useless/repetitive updates in Facebook News Feed

With the last change in Facebook design, the News Feed or the homepage of Facebook has started showing useless update of friends and subscriptions. This is because Facebook algorithm automatically selects friends for top feed resulting into more frequent updates from people we hardly know and lesser updates of closed ones.

Another problem with the updates is that the News Feed is mixing up recent and highlighted stories due to which some important updates are getting skipped. We’ll tell you how you can make your News Feed updates better to get relevant updates. Below are some changes you can do on your profile.

Sorting Updates:

On the top of News Feed there’s a link ‘Sort’. Click on that link and select ‘Recent Stories First’ from the drop down list. By default it’s ‘Highlighted Stories First’.

 

 

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Unhighlight useless updates:

You can unhighlight updates that are not much important for you. You will see a Blue Triangle with some updates which means that update is highlighted one. Facebook automatically selects such updates for you.

 

 

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To change such updates either click on the Blue Triangle or Click on the arrow to open a drop down list as shown above. Do following changes:

  1. Click this link remove a story from top post. If you unhighlight a story it will be a normal update without any special priority.
  2. ‘Hide Story’ is used for removing a single post. This can be used to hide an abusive pic or content.
  3. ‘Subscribe to’ can be used to select priority of updates from a particular friend. Select ‘All Updates’ if that Facebook friend is close to you or you want to read more frequent updates from that user. ‘Most Updates’ is the default option. ‘Only Important’ will show selected updates from those friends.
  4. ‘Unsubscribe’ can be used to completely stop receiving updates from a particular friend. You can select this option for people you don’t know personally.

After these changes you will see a better updates in your News Feed. These changes are highly useful for you if you’re having a larger number of people as your Facebook friends.

Categories
Analysis

Facebook’s top ten Global and Indian topics of 2011

Facebook just released a blog note sharing the most popular topics of 2011 that Facebook user talked about ; globally and country wise. Facebook added a new tab “Memology 2011” on their official page which gives all this information. This Memology is the trending topics of Facebook in 2011. We’re sharing top ten global, Indian, United States and United Kingdom topics of the year.

Top ten global topics on Facebook:

 

 

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Top Ten Status Trends [India]:

 

 

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Top Ten Status Trends [United States]:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Status Trends [United Kingdom]:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can find trending topics of Facebook for more countries here. As expected, the most shared topic for India in 2011 is Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill. Surprisingly Death of Steve Jobs was a trending topic in India and not in Steve’s own country United States. Stay connected to read about the fastest growing pages of 2011.

(via Facebook)

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News

Indian Government Flip-flops on Internet Censorship!

Online_CensorshipAccording to news reports India’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal asked internet companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to screen content which may be deemed inflammatory.

While the Indian government has regularly made noises about online content being screened, the suggestion from the minister that human beings should be used to screen content instead of automatic checks. This demand is a little strange and quite impractical.

With over millions of hours of video content generated and billions of blog posts published a year, it would require thousands of people to actually screen such content manually.

What is more interesting is that the government has not defined what is inflamatory and is asking the companies to take do it themselves.

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Criticism for the move

Kapil Sibal’s comment have been made fun of on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. It is ironic that what he set out of control was dished out to him.

Politicians are often criticized about their views and made fun of on social media websites. It is next to impossible to try and control the internet.

Clarifications have come in that the government is not looking to censor online content. I guess we have not heard the last of this issue as most governments around the world are looking for some sort of control over content.

I do not like any sort of censorship on the internet. It kills creativity and dialogue. In my opinion governments should not try to find ways to censor or control the internet but actually use internet tools to reach out to people and get their opinions.

What are your views? Do drop in your comments.

(via Economic Times)

Image Credit: daviddicke.com