Friday Wrap #129: High court’s Facebook free speech case, Uber app isn’t malware, Amazon activism

Friday Wrap #129
Flickr photo of wrapping a turkey in bacon courtesy of Jennifer Morrow
A very Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers; I hope you enjoyed warmth, family, and turkey yesterday. Here’s an abbreviated Friday Wrap (since there wasn’t much news published yesterday or today); I’ll be back with a more complete round-up next week. In the meantime, be sure to follow my link blog to stay on top of all the items I collect, from which I select stories for the Wrap and for my weekly podcast.


Free speech on Facebook goes to the U.S. Supreme Court—On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will decide when the First Amendment protects violent posts on social media. Anthony Elonis is facing a 44-month prison sentence for posting threats to his ex-wife on Facebook. While his ex felt like she was being stalked, Elonis is claiming that he’s an aspiring rapper who quoted works from Jay-Z, the Notorious B.I.G., and Eminem. “Art is about pushing limits,” he wrote; “I’m willing to go to jail for my constitutional rights.” The court will determine whether the law under which Elonis was convicted requires proof of subjective intent to threaten, and whether the First Amendment requires a similar standard of proof. Read more

You can now select a YouTube URL that reflects your Channel name—YouTube creators are now able to change to a new URL using the Creator Studio. To take advantage of the feature, your channel needs to have a minimum of 500 subscribers, and there are some steps to follow. Once you go through the process, YouTube will recommend some URLs “based on your channel’s description, Google identity and associated websites.” Read more

Twitter tests analytics within each tweet—Twitter is experimenting with a feature that will display the analytics of a tweet from directly inside that tweet. If you’re one of the Twitter users included in the test, you’ll see a “view analytics details” button on the mobile app. When you tap it, you’ll see total impressions, total engagements, engagement rate, and other details. Read more

Twitter CFO accidentally discloses acquisition—I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it. You think you’re sending a direct message on Twitter but actually send the tweet publicly. That’s what happened to Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer, when he tweeted, “I still think we should buy them. He is on y our schedule for De 15 or 16—we will need to sell him. i have a plan.” The errant tweet led to a lot of speculation over the target as well as discussion about the gaffe. If there’s a lesson to learn, it’s that these things happen. Deal with them and move on. Read more


Uber app isn’t malware, but it does symbolize a problem—One blog post was responsible for spreading an inaccurate message this week: that the Uber app is malware. It’s not. The concerns that led to the post were the same that had the Internet abuzz with reports of all the horrible things Facebook’s Messenger app was doing. Like Messenger, Uber has to use the default permission language written by Google (for Android) and Apple (for iOS). The permissions sound scary, writes The Next Web’s Owen Williams, but their uses are legitimate. In an email to readers, Editor-in-Chief Martin Bryant pointed out, “The real problem here is that tech companies don’t describe what they’re doing well enough. Super-simple terms and conditions would be better for everyone. I’ve noticed a growing cynicism from a segment of our readers about every new data-focused app released, both from ‘big guys’ like Google and Facebook to tiny new startups alike… clearer communication is one step every tech company can take to help maintain the trust of their users.” I couldn’t agree more. Read more

Amazon activism is now a thing—The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) took to Amazon’s review feature to protest against PepsiCo’s use of palm oil sourced from the rainforest. In the section of a product page where customers can ask questions, RAN members posted queries like, “Is Pepsi Co. still destroying forests for palm oil? I can think of more environmentally friendly companies to get drinks from.” The campaign was launched in an effort to force the food-and-drink company to adopt a palm oil purchasing policy. Based on the visibility the campaign achieved, we can expect others to adopt the technique. Read more

Employees caught creating fake reviews for their company’s app—Canada’s Bell Mobility hadn’t gotten many positive reviews for the original app; it rated just 2 stars on average in the iTunes Store. The company removed the app and introduced a new one, which quickly amassed several five-star ratings. When Scott Stratten dug a little deeper, though, he found those reviewing the app were mostly Bell Canada staffers from either the marketing or IT departments. Non-employee reviews weren’t so kind. “Not only is this not ethical,” Stratten writes, “it also breaks every review site rule or TOS.” It’s not a practice to emulate. Read more

Automated ad placement can cause problems—There’s much to be said for automated ad placement, but it caused some problems for The New York Times recently. The Times ran an article on the North Dakota oil boom. The article wasn’t kind to oil companies, but it did note that Statoil has an impressive safety record. A Statoil display ad appeared alarmingly close to the paragraph referencing the company. Statoil didn’t place the ad there deliberately—it was placed there coincidentally by the automation process. The opposite is equally possible: your ad appears alongside critical or objectionable commentary. Read more


Employees don’t share professional accomplishments via social media—Only 15% of workers share successes and recognition via their social media accounts, preferring to share that kind of news in person. Other results from the LinkedIn/Wakefield Research study include the fact that employees care more about small successes than major advances. Small successes lead employees to feel better about their jobs, which in turn results in them working harder. Read more

Small business embraces Facebook video—The number of small and medium-sized business posting video to Facebook has nearly doubled in the last 12 months. 800,000 businesses posted more than 3 million videos online in September alone, according to Facebook. The social network is attracting more than 1 billion videos per day, and video advertising has proven successful. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

New service lets you search notifications pushed via mobile—You use notifications to communicate with customers’ mobile devices, but you have no idea how you stack up against competitors who also push messages. Batch Insights aggregates push notifications so you can search, filter, and manipulate the ones people are receiving from thousands of popular apps. You can count on more such tools for measuring mobile activity will be appearing at a steady clip. Read more

Watchmakers crack down on bootleg watch faces—On my Moto 360, I have installed a watchface that looks a lot like a Rolex Oyster. It’s not an exact replicy; it says Moto 360 instead of Rolex, but that crown logo is prominent. Watchmakers are getting wise to the fact that hobbyists are creating watchfaces designed to emulate their expensive designs, which users are installing on a variety of smartwatches. Takedown requests are starting to pour in from brands including omega, Panerai, Swatch, and Tissot. According to one report, the watchmakers aren’t really worried about the digital replicas, but are obligated to take this step in order to continue taking action against more traditional counterfeits. Read more