May 10, 2011 : News in Brief - Watching
- Facebook purges political groups for Royal Wedding
- Rebellious 'Radical Media' conference
Facebook purges political groups for Royal Wedding
Following the Metropolitan Police's particularly spectacular brand of repression around the Royal Wedding (note the capitalisation of this particularly spectacular brand of Public Event), it emerged that Facebook also utilised the opportunity to conduct its own purging of online space. In the twelve hours leading up to the royal wedding on the 29th April, 51 political Facebook groups were rapidly taken down, including 'Tower Hamlets Greens', 'Arts Against Cuts', 'Bristol Bookfair', 'Save NHS', and 'Comrade George Orwell'.
Facebook responded with the explanation that the purged groups were set up as 'profiles' rather than 'groups' and that their policy prohibits the use of fake names on Facebook profiles. They asserted that the removed pages were taken down as part of a 'routine sweep' ensuring safety, security and accountability in Facebook-land.
However, many have questioned the timing of Facebook's actions, essentially jamming online networks which may be critical of the royal wedding, or wider 'austerity politics', just as it was occurring on the May Day weekend.
Rebellious 'Radical Media' conference
A corporate media group, @Radical Media LLC, has trade-marked the phrase "Radical Media" and is trying to ban Peace news, New Internationalist, Red Pepper and other groups from using it in the title of a conference, to be held in London on the 8th and 9th of October 2011. The conference will now be called the Rebellious' Media Conference.
What is "radical media" and should there be restrictions on who is allowed to use that term? It seems fantastical that those actively involved in radical media, from UK indymedia to North African revolutionaries might be prevented from using an adjective to describe what they do, but this is exactly what a global media group is trying to do.
In September 2010, I [a member of the group PLATFORM] was approached by the editors of Peace News with a proposal to mark the 75th anniversary of the newspaper with a conference. Anyone who works in print-media, no matter how main-stream the publication or how large its circulation, is exercised over what the future may hold. The rise of free, online news outlets challenges the public's willingness to pay for a newspaper and as ever more people get their news stories from blogs, and social networking sites, newspapers have been left behind the curve, struggling to devise ways to turn a profit, or even cover their costs in the online world.
This new media landscape is a challenge for Peace News as it is for Australian media barons. The conference will be a chance to address these challenges and bring together a fragmented radical media community to learn from one another. It seems common sense that any media which reports on radical politics - setting out to serve that constituency - might naturally be referred to as "radical media", so back in the autumn a small band of volunteers began working to assemble "The Radical media Conference".
It wasn't until six months in that the conference organising group received a threatening legal letter from the media corporation @Radical Media LLC objecting to unlicensed use of the term "Radical Media".
Our collective jaws dropped, how could anyone own an adjective? Yet in the closed-source world where intellectual property is hard currency, it appears that virtually anything may be trade-marked. We didn't know whether to rant or cry. Our instincts told us that anyone with a radical bone in their body should fight this corporate usurpation of language, but the prospect of facing legal costs in line with house prices tempered this instinct. Even if we won such a battle we could only expect to recover 75 percent of these costs, leaving us tens of thousands of pounds down, money which - even if we had it - should be spent on more useful, more radical things than legal fees.
As a result, organisers of the newly renamed "rebellious media conference" are calling for support to retain the URL www.radicalmediaconference.org and we would love to see anyone who supports our fight not only attend the conference, but get involved in truly radical media by blogging, tweeting, forwarding and linking to this story. Please tweet the hashtag #radicalmediafail, follow us on
twitter and join the Facebook group. We need to tell @Radical Media LLC that we are taking back "Radical Media" for free use by us all, why not email the CEO at email@example.com or the corporate president at firstname.lastname@example.org?
Groups working in open-source, non-hierarchical and other genuinely radical media projects must have the right to use the term 'radical media' to describe what they do. See @Radical Media's own website for more board members
who you might like to get in touch with. A demonstration was held outside @Radical Media's London office on Tuesday 3rd May, which was called "*We* make radical media, You make adverts".