Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

09/04/2012

Intense Publishing Intrigue – Fighting for Privacy, Free Expression AND Profitability


Fighting for privacy, free expression and profitability all at the same time is, indeed, intense intrigue. It would turn my hair gray then take it away.

But, these big issues are facing the online social media sites/businesses every day — and how they are handled by the individual sites should determine their success or failure — Especially if they go public — It’s all related to trust of the users.

An example: Can we rely on these sites to publish our content (even unpopular) and protect our privacy; doing all this while still making a profit even if their sponsors are the target of the content? 

Twitter’s top legal beagle, Alexander Macgillivray, a young (40-year-old), Princeton and Harvard trained attorney and seasoned corporate lawyer, will demonstrate tonight how Twitter handles these online publishing problems:

Twitter’s Free Speech Defender  (The New York Times by )

Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter’s chief lawyer, says that fighting for free speech is more than a good idea. He thinks it is a competitive advantage for his company.

That conviction explains why he spends so much of Twitter’s time and money going toe to toe with officers and apparatchiks both here and abroad. Last week, his legal team was fighting a court order to extract an Occupy Wall Street protester’s Twitter posts. The week before, the team wrestled with Indian government officials seeking to take down missives they considered inflammatory. Last year, Mr. Macgillivray challenged the Justice Department in its hunt for WikiLeaks supporters who used Twitter to communicate.

“We value the reputation we have for defending and respecting the user’s voice,” Mr. Macgillivray said in an interview here at Twitter headquarters. “We think it’s important to our company and the way users think about whether to use Twitter, as compared to other services.”

It doesn’t always work. And it sometimes collides awkwardly with another imperative Twitter faces: to turn its fire hose of public opinion into a profitable business. That imperative will become far more acute if the company goes public, and Twitter confronts pressures to make money fast and play nice with the governments of countries in which it operates; most Twitter users live outside the United States and the company is already opening offices overseas.

That transformation makes his job all the more delicate. At a time when Internet companies control so much of what we can say and do online, can Twitter stand up for privacy, free expression and profitability all at the same time?

“They are going to have to monetize the data that they have and they can’t rock the boat maybe,” said Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington. “I don’t predict Twitter is going to lose its way, but it’s a moment to watch.”

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1 Comment »

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