Category Archives: Internet

Amanda Todd and sexual assault

Some facebook friends linked this blog about “What it’s like being a teen girl” that discusses sexual harassment and assault.  What stood out especially was that boys aged 12-17 are the most likely to commit sexual assault.
http://sodisarmingdarling.tumblr.com/post/34106027759/what-its-like-being-a-teen-girl

So then I caught up on reading about Amanda Todd, and watched her video (at the bottom, “My story…”), which made me cry.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/11/amanda-todd-suicide-bullying_n_1959909.html

I think I’m going to have to do more real-life lessons in the classroom.

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Changes on Facebook

Whenever Facebook updates something, such as notification settings or email, they do it silently.  Every time this happens, posts about it will go circulating on news feeds for a couple of days, warning you.  If you don’t catch it, it’s usually not the end of the world, but I’m sure sometimes it can be a big problem.  So people complain.

But how bad is it, really, compared to how other companies would go about it?

What most companies would do is present you with pages and pages of legalese, that you would scroll down without reading, and click “I agree” at the bottom.  Or they’d send you an email saying “we’ve updated some stuff, just FYI” and if you could be bothered to click and not delete the email immediately, you’d get a list of such changes, usually padded with heaps of boring text and/or legalese.  Then you would complain.

I think the “Facebook is messing with your settings AGAIN” posts on the news feed are more effective, because instead of clicking “I agree”, you think, “god dammit Facebook” and read the thankfully concise info and change your settings.  DONE.

Suspect Timing: A CRTC Post

I have a suspicion that the CRTC’s timing on certain issues is following at least one political agenda…

One issue, the one that has received significant media attention, is about usage-based billing*.  Bell essentially wanted to take cell phone pricing and penalties and apply it to their DSL services.  What a nasty, underhanded way of treating your customers.  A new company comes along and offers a good deal that threatens your customer base, and rather than offering competitive prices or services, Bell decides that it’ll make up for lost revenue by increasing their prices.  Oh, and they want to penalize the start-up company.
The CRTC’s role in this was to propose to allow this new pricing scheme in law.

Thankfully, our docile little nation voiced enough outrage over this issue to get the government to notice us.  They told the CRTC, in no uncertain terms, to go to hell**.

Great, and the day is saved!  Oh, but there was another CRTC issue…
Yeah, the one about legalizing deliberately misleading news.
The law currently states that it’s illegal to broadcast/publish “any false or misleading news.”
The proposed change (slated to take effect September 2011) is that it would be illegal to broadcast/publish “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.”

So if someone wanted to contest a certain news piece in court, the onus would be on the prosecution to prove that the “news” endangers or is likely to endanger lives, health, or safety.  If that was not proven, there would be no case.  This would make it excruciatingly difficult to contest any news article, even if it was obviously false or misleading.
Such is the hope of Sun TV, which is launching its news network, nicknamed “Fox News North”, after the demonstratedly biased and misleading news network.

Unfortunately, the uproar over usage-based billing was so great, that everyone forgot about the “fair and balanced” news law.  From what I can tell, the UBB announcement came in October 2010, and the news law in January 2011, when most of the objection to UBB flared up.

Who wins here?  The right-wing media, when they take advantage of the ruling that seems tailored to their purposes.  Consequently, the political conservatives, whose ideologies would be promoted in the media.  Also note that the government tried a little to look like the “heroes” for saving the public from UBB, so that’s another reason to suspect the timing – there will likely be an election within a year, and possibly soon.

I’m scared for this country.

* Two parts: a) if an Internet user exceeds their ‘cap’ – say, 25GB/month – they pay huge penalties;  b) Internet companies that use Bell’s DSL lines (such as those which offer unlimited service) must also pay for extra usage
** Tony Clement said, “Reverse this decision or we’ll flex government muscle to do it anyway”

Link: petition to reverse the Misleading News ruling

Link: wikipedia article detailing the controversies surrounding Sun TV news

For fun:
Bizarro cartoon

Subway Pigeon

So a pigeon rode the subway. Big deal, I heard about that at least a month ago, along with the YouTube video. It must have been a slow news day for it to have made the front page of the Star’s GTA section.

Two thoughts from this:
1: Are you kidding me? Who cares? And somehow people are saying, “Damn, that’s one smart pigeon.” Even if the same pigeon came back to the subway, it’s more likely that the pigeon deemed it a safe place with food scraps than it thought, “Hmm, it’s an easier way to get to High Park, peck peck peck”
2: Do newspapers save stories like this for slow news days? I mean, reallllly slow news days.

Link: Pigeon gets off at Runnymede station
Link: A year-old video of another TTC pigeon

Facebook Shouldn’t Have A Dislike Button

For at least a few months now, people on Facebook have been clamouring for a “Dislike” button to match the “Like” feature that’s been rather popular among users. I think this idea is stupid.

Reason #1: It’s been done. Reddit, Digg, and other social bookmarking sites, and probably many more such things, have points assigned to posts. I’m talking posts of all kinds: links, photos, notes, just like in facebook (and this website, even). The points are given by users, who vote up or down. The most popular posts rise to the top of the lists and get more views. It works well in filtering out less interesting and less funny material, and helps a browser (you know, a person who browses) find the best stuff quickly.

But on Facebook, the only posts you see are from friends and pages/groups that you choose to add. And sometimes also 500 other people who you met once but just had to add to Facebook so you can stalk them or appear more popular (omigod you have 879 friends well actually i have 933 i guess i’m just cool like that). But anyway: the whole concept of Facebook is to connect to things you already like. It’s its OWN quality filter. And you probably know what friends are more likely to post stuff you’re interested in.

Reason #2: Online bullying. When they stopped only accepting university and college students on the site, high school students flocked to it like pararazzi to Britney Spears. Just think of the ways to be cruel with this button. Think of your recent status updates or posts, and imagine your feelings if you received even one “dislike”.

And high school students can be mean as fuck. So can adults, of course, but we’re less likely to click “dislike” on everything the unpopular kid does. I can even picture innocuous “dislike”s creating firestorms of rage and broken friendships, due to simple misunderstandings. Yes, I’m being extreme, but a dislike button would have the potential to devastate. And yes, there is already the option to comment, negatively, but the dislike button is a quick-and-easy weapon that requires no thought. That is yet another part of its power.

The dislike button is sought-after in part for quick-and-easy responses to posts like “Ross has to work until 8pm tonight :(” or other things that merit sympathy. But the disadvantages of implementing this feature far outweigh any benefit. Facebook, if you’re reading this, I am available to work in your development department. From home.

The Breast Cancer Meme

Breast Cancer: a real problem, with a lifetime risk of 1 in 8 women. Can be deadly. Inspires: meaningful action.
Meme: a fad, with little to no substance. Can be boring and overdone. Inspires: bandwagon jumping.

Recently on Facebook, girls have been posting their bra colour thanks to a circulating email, much to the confusion of many girls and most boys. This is purportedly meant to raise breast-cancer awareness. But without reading the email, how are people supposed to know what this is about? When I asked a friend what the colours meant, the answer was anti-climactic. I wasn’t inspired, I was annoyed.

This isn’t because I was jealous to be left out, unable to participate. A slew of sarcastic posts came to mind, but I ignored the idea, because the whole thing is meaningless. This is just a meme. Girls are posting the colour of their bra, getting some “likes” and comments. That’s it. This isn’t raising awareness, this is just basic social networking. I seriously doubt that more than 0.01% of the population will be more aware of breast cancer next week.

So girls, are you going to do something for breast cancer? Self-examine? Donate money? Run for the cure?
Your participation in this meme means nothing.