Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: May 2008 (page 2 of 4)

The Curious Tweet

* Caveat: I just want to say that while I do not believe there is a word that should not be spoken, a topic that should not be broached, or an image that should be hidden from sight, I do believe that when any of the aforementioned are used to hurt, slander, or otherwise harm another person, they become weapons.

So, with that in mind, I am going to share a story with you. I’ve found much of the information on this recent controversy to be fairly insider, so I’m writing this for the rest of us (hi Dad! The underlined text? That’s a link – move over to it until you see a Mickey Mouse-like hand then click the mouse) to understand – the case of Twitter, its Terms of Service, and Ariel Waldman. Why? Because few others have, not even Wikipedia.

Ariel Waldman is a fairly well-known blogger and a “social media insights consultant.” Although I can’t judge her skills, I would translate that title into “expert at observing social interactions online and how they can be improved.” Among other excellent jobs, she is the community manager (that’s just what it sounds like) for Pownce, a micro-blogging and social networking site.

Twitter is another such site. The basic concept is, you use this one site to keep in touch with people (often constantly) via cell phone, your computer, another computer, or other device and publish what you’re saying on this site onto other sites, if you so choose. Programs like twitterific and twhirl (which I am mad at, because I cannot install it on my MacBook) can aid the process

Ariel Waldman, according to herself and other sources including (apparently) her own mother, was being stalked and had been for some time, even prior to her becoming well-known online. The person had harassed her on Flickr and began to harass her on Twitter as well. Among other things, Ariel was called a “cunt,” a word at which I take extreme offense when used in that manner. I don’t think I’m alone there. And I believe that most people would agree using that word in an aggressive way (as in toward another person) is harassment.

Ms. Waldman complained about that incident (among others) to Twitter. Twitter’s terms of service, after all, read: “…4: You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users…” and “…Violation of any of these agreements will result in the termination of your Twitter.com account. While Twitter.com prohibits such conduct and content on its site, you understand and agree that Twitter cannot be responsible for the Content posted on its web site and you nonetheless may be exposed to such materials and that you use the Twitter.com service at your own risk…”

It would seem from the above that Twitter takes a strong stand against harassment. At least that’s what I would be lead to believe. And so Ms. Waldman filed her complaint (not her first, incidentally, but the preceding was resolved satisfactorily) and Twitter responded (the details are outlined in Ms. Waldman’s blog, but if you’re feeling clicked-out, the long and short of it is that Twitter claimed to be afraid of possible lawsuits (from the alleged harasser) and concluded that they could do nothing further to assist Ms. Waldman.

This comment sort of sums up my feelings on the subject. I am aware that when one puts herself out there on the internet, she is taking the risk of being harassed, but that, were she to complain to the site where the harassment is taking place and said site happens to have a TOS agreement that states that harassment of another user is grounds for termination of your Twitter account, the moderators of that site will take action against the perpetrator.

Will I leave Twitter? No. Do I necessarily believe 100% of what Ms. Waldman claims? No. But given that the details of the particular story I mentioned have been confirmed by both parties, I can see clearly what should have been done. If Twitter wants to change its Terms of Service tomorrow, it should – but not before issuing an apology for failing to uphold its previous ones.

*Addendum: Mashable! makes a point as well. Skip to the last three paragraphs if you’re tired of reading.

The Funniest Package

Every day I come home to the hope of mail.  By mail, of course, I mean actual mail, not bills or credit card offers or catalogs (though magazines count).  Lately my favorite thing to watch for is checks from all of my recent paying writing ventures.  And today I was hoping for a package – a sweet little pair of shoes I ordered online the other night.

So of course I was excited to come home this evening and find a large cardboard box waiting for me by the door (along with my other mail, the only exciting piece of which was a nice check from Guidespot!)  Imagine my surprise, then, when I opened the package and discovered…a puppy carrier?  A chew toy?  A can of Febreze pet odor deodorizer?  A dog bib?

How perplexing!  And then I noticed a letter.  Among other things, it said:

Febreze is always looking for individuals who are highly regarded in their communities, such as yourself, to test out products and share feedback, therefore we would love for you to be one of the first to try Febreze Air Effects Pet Odor Eliminator

Well, gee thanks Febreze!  This has been happening a lot lately…special offers of all kinds coming my way (my favorite of which, by the way, was a $10/yr. subscription to National Geographic “for press only” – I’m press now?  Awesome!)  I have no idea how Febreze found me or why they consider me highly regarded (perhaps it’s my cat’s celebrity) but I like it.

So thanks again Febreze – the product is quite nice, I enjoy the smell, and although LC almost immediately climbed out of the cat carrier, she’s been chilling in the cardboard box the whole kit and caboodle came in for almost a half hour now.

My Mac

My Mac, whom I’m not sure if I should name (would/have you? I name my cars), came into my life on Mother’s Day (hmm) when my parents and I met for lunch at the famous Kowloon in Saugus, on Route 1 somewhere in between their house and mine. Since that Sunday, I haven’t missed a day with it (not that I usually miss a day, what with my addiction and all). I love it. I love that someone can grab hold of my screen through theirs, from Trinidad, and take over my computer. I love that I can hear frogs chirping in the background. I love using the little remote control, and how everything is built in, and how the computer handles itself (rather than making me constantly run SpyBot and Ad-Aware and think about which anti-virus protection is the best, and having to download it and install it and pay for it) and how I’ve turned into such a nerd and I love that I can do shit like this:

Also, I love Global Voices – what a nice gesture to do that on my birthday!

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