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Today’s Flickr Photo

 

Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan and Chief Justice John Roberts. Flickr photo by TalkMediaNews.

 

If you read one thing today . . .

Because it’s not everyday that we get to hear sitting U.S. Supreme Court justices talk about the Court’s decision-making process, this Bloomberg News interview with Justice Stephen Breyer caught our interest, especially the headline that proclaimed, “Breyer says U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t have pro-business slant.” Come again? Saying the conservative-leaning Court doesn’t have a pro-business slant is like saying that Glenn Beck doesn’t have a flair for self-promotion. In this case, however, I think there’s a nuance to Breyer’s remarks. What he says is that the current Court is no different than those from years gone by. Historically, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business always do well. Bloomberg reporter Greg Stohr writes:

Breyer also said that partisan politics doesn’t influence the court’s actions, even in cases with political ramifications, including the decision this year that allowed unlimited corporate and union campaign spending, and the Bush v. Gore ruling that decided the 2000 presidential election.

“I don’t see that politics,” Breyer said. “It would be bad if it were there. And I don’t see it.”

Overheard:

From a Washington Post story about politics in the age of Facebook:

“So you have 50,000 Facebook fans – what the heck are you going to do with them?” said Vincent Harris, a GOP new-media consultant for numerous 2010 candidates. “Campaigns this cycle are in this frenzy of numbers, numbers, numbers. But how do you effectively reach these people and activate them?”

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The mysterious disappearance of the Boycott BP fan page from Facebook last night was, apparently, a mistake caused by Facebook’s automated system, or so Facebook says today. Here’s what Facebook told us when we asked why the Boycott BP page was taken down:

Thanks for reaching out to Facebook. The admin profile of the Boycott BP Page was disabled by our automated systems therefore removing all the content that had been created by the profile. After a manual review we determined the profile was removed in error and it has now been restored along with the Page.

TechCrunch has more. But there’s still a lot of room for explanation on Facebook’s part.

In response to Facebook’s decision to remove the Boycott BP page, Public Citizen attorney Greg Beck issued the following statement:

“Late Monday, Facebook shut down the Boycott BP fan page, effectively locking out the page’s more than 700,000 members. After a backlash by users, Facebook reinstated the site this morning. Facebook has not said whether a complaint by BP prompted its decision to terminate the Boycott BP page. Regardless, Facebook’s decision to delete the page without warning or explanation was irresponsible.

Facebook and other social websites have become the public squares of the Internet – places where citizens can congregate as a community to share their opinions and voice their grievances. Facebook’s ownership of this democratic forum carries great responsibility. At the very least, Facebook should provide warning and a reasoned explanation before destroying a large and active community.

It is not clear whether BP is behind the page’s temporary removal. Facebook says the site was removed when the company’s “automated systems” disabled the site owner’s profile, and restored after a manual review “determined the profile was removed in error.” But the company has not explained the cause of the removal or said whether a complaint by BP triggered the process. Companies often complain to Facebook about fan pages that include their names, claiming that viewers will be confused about whether the company sponsors the site. Here, nobody could be confused into believing that a page named “Boycott BP” is run by BP itself. People have a right to criticize a company by name, and BP has no right to stop it.

Note: Public Citizen’s call for a BP boycott can be found at www.BeyondBP.org.”

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A few hours ago, Facebook censors removed the Boycott BP fan page, which had almost 800,000 members. It’s unclear why Facebook took the boycott page down. The page’s creator Lee Perkins, who goes by the moniker “Bayou Lee,” immediately created a new page, calling it Boycott bp/Arco. Bayou Lee wrote:

I can’t believe they shut us down with no explanation. I could not even say goodbye to my friends. We must have been doing something right.

Bayou Lee’s page was the largest of many Facebook campaigns aimed against BP for its role in causing the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The question many people were asking Monday night was whether this was a deliberate effort by Facebook to silence BP’s biggest critic.

Could Public Citizen, which has been calling for people to boycott BP by taking the Beyond BP pledge, find itself in a similar situation with its Facebook page, 1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP?

On June 14th, we received a warning from Facebook that (more…)

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The folks at Facebook would like you to know that they’re concerned about your privacy. So much that they’re willing to create a nonprofit foundation dedicated to online privacy, while at the same time profiting hugely from their business of allowing you to make your most private thoughts and moments available to anyone you’ve ever met. Facebook’s offer to create the foundation is part of its proposal to settle a class-action lawsuit brought against it for violating the privacy of its users.

If you recall, the case involves Facebook’s Beacon marketing program, which back in 2007 and 2008 let all of your Facebook friends know about stuff you bought online. Well, on Monday, Public Citizen filed an objection to the proposed settlement, saying that it did a lot for Facebook and the lawyers in the case but very little for Facebook users.

From the Public Citizen news release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Facebook’s solution to complaints that it violated the privacy rights of potentially millions of its users is no solution at all, Public Citizen said today in opposing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that was filed against the social networking giant.

The central piece of the proposed settlement is the creation of a nonprofit foundation that would largely be controlled by Facebook. The foundation would be charged with funding projects and initiatives that “promote the cause of online privacy, safety, and security,” which Public Citizen attorney Greg Beck likens to putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Under the proposed settlement, Facebook would pay $9.5 million into a settlement fund, with as much as a third of that money going to pay the class-action attorneys. The remaining money would go toward the creation of the new privacy foundation. Facebook would choose (more…)

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Yesterday, we launched our campaign to amend the Constitution to undo the terrible U.S.  Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. FEC case. As you may know that case threatens the very fabric of our democracy by allowing an unlimited flood of corporate cash into our elections. More than 10,000 of you have signed our petition at DontGetRolled.org.

The fight is only beginning. Stay tuned to this blog and join our campaign on Facebook to learn how you can get involved and make your voice heard.

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