Two sides of the new media game

The bad:

Slashdot broke the news on Saturday that AT&T’s updated terms of service for its high-speed Internet packages essentially forbid you from criticizing the company on pain of cancellation. The full terms of service are here, and here’s the offending passage highlighted, courtesy of Ars Technica:

AT&T may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of AT&T, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

This is the exact kind of overbroad legalese that gets companies in trouble in ways they probably never thought of. If I am an AT&T subscriber, for example, and I post derogatory comments about AT&T on a site they own, does this give them leave to terminate my service? What if I post or send a complaint about AT&T to a complaint site or consumer news site, like ConsumerAffairs.Com (whom I write for), and they publish said complaint? Am I liable if I was using my AT&T ISP while writing said complaint? What if I did so while using my laptop at a Wi-Fi hotspot? The mind boggles.

The good:

Nonprofit organizations are increasingly turning to social-media initiatives in hopes of expanding their reach, increasing donations, and tapping into a younger generation of potential donors.

Evidence of this trend can be seen in the growing number of nonprofits currently utilizing YouTube to increase awareness for their causes and organizations.

At the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) third annual meeting on September 27, the online video giant announced the YouTube Nonprofit Program. The program provides participating groups with a number of features, including a premium channel on YouTube to serve as a hub for their uploaded videos, the opportunity to insert a Google Checkout donation button on their channel or video watch pages, and eventually, a centralized area within YouTube. Among those already using the program are the CGI and the March of Dimes.

YouTube isn’t the only new-media outlet that nonprofits are using to spread their messages and to raise funds. Others are tapping into blogs, social-media sites, podcasts, and more recently, Facebook.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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