Instagram passing responsibility for legal breaches onto users

Instagram, the photograph sharing service, is trying to pass responsibility for its alleged breaches of the law onto its users, it has been found.

Instagram, which is led by Kevin Systrom as its CEO, has been founded inviting corporations it has been alleged to have breached the intellectual property of to get in touch with users who might not be aware of such actions.

The news comes as increasing pressure is being put on its rival Twitter to take responsibility for the illegal actions of its users, such as the posting of indecent, obscene, menacing or threatening content, which it says to victims are within its own rules.

Kevin Systrom is the CEO of Instagram, which is asking corporations to take its alleged breaches of the law up with users directly
NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY: Kevin Systrom is the CEO of Instagram, which is asking corporations to take its alleged breaches of the law up with users directly. Courtesy: AFP

In one instance a corporation was asked by Instagram in a trademark dispute to contact a user directly, telling them “If you would like to contact the user to see if they might be willing to yield their username to you, we would suggest creating an account with an alternate username and leaving a comment on one of their photos or videos.”

Under the E-Commerce Directive, which has been transposed into UK law through the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, providers of information society services like Instagram and Twitter are required not to allow any unlawful content to be hosted on their platforms.

Both Instagram and Twitter are expecting both businesses and consumers to resolve issues between themselves, when the law puts the liability firmly at the door of social media platforms. Known as sysop prerogative, website owners like Instagram and Twitter are only allowed in theory to do what the law entitles them to do, but in practice will use their own rules to justify not following the law.

Following being approached by Crocels News, a spokesperson from Instagram confirmed that if the company’s own rules have not been broken that it is in their view not their responsibility, even it would seem if the law has been broken by them.

Are young people being held hostage by smart devices?

A new report published by the Youth Sports Trust has revealed that nearly 25% of children consider playing video games as a form of exercise.

Nearly 75% of young people have access to games consoles, and daily screen time eclipses activity time with young people averaging close to 3 hours per day using technology.

Amongst 11 year olds, 70% say they watch YouTube, 15% log into Facebook and 11% post on Instagram.

Ali Oliver, chief exec of the YST, says that the digital revolution presents opportunities and challenges with young people “potentially held hostage” to their handheld devices.

The trust has called for more PE and technology integration in schools, and the government has provided £300m in funding earmarked to “prioritising PE” and improving school sport.

Some 75% of the five to 16 year olds surveyed say they enjoy PE at school and two-thirds feel better after taking part in sport.

Edward Timpson, the Children’s Minister, is encouraged that the research shows millions of young people are enjoying PE lessons. “[PE] remains a government priority,” he said.

But the report says that there is “no resisting” the march of technology and in order to get children active a more holistic approach to PE is needed. It recommends one which “integrates technology and the delivery of a seamless, intuitive and digitally enhanced form of physical activity.”

Some believe there is a block in teachers using technology in lessons due to a lack of training or software comprehension. A college worker has described that some lecturers “just don’t want to know” about using animations or apps.

Others note that technology has been historically blamed as leading to sedentary lifestyles: books, radio, TV, video games and now smart devices face criticism despite it being difficult to pin-point their attributions to overall physical wellbeing.

One parent notes that it would not be difficult to create parental controls to deactivate devices remotely. “[The report] clearly signals that action is needed now to modernise approaches,” says Oliver.

Mario Balotelli penalised for Instagram trolling

Liverpool FC footballer, Mario Balotelli, has been fined £25,000 and given a one-match ban for postings he made to the Instagram social networking service.

Mario Balotelli posted a picture the Nintendo character Mario on Instagram with the text “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a jew.

It has been suggested this remark refers to stereotype of Jewish business owners squeezing the profits of their suppliers, and the stereotype of Black people being good at playing basketball.

Thomas Rosicky ‘trolling’ backfires

An attempt by footballer Thomas Rosicky to troll his former Arsenal teammate, Robin van Persie, on Instagram, resulted in Thomas Rosicy making a fool of himself, it has been learned.

Thomas Rosicky, 33, had intended to post a picture of himself laughing, in order to mock the performance of Robin van Persie’s team Manchester United’s in their 5-3 defeat to Leicester City. The last laugh was on him, however, for getting the score the wrong way around, making Manchester United appear the winners.

Internet trolling expert, Jonathan Bishop, said that such mistakes go with the territory. “Thomas Rosicky shows that not all trolling is the abusive kind, and that in many cases those trying to troll are the one’s that look foolish,” he said. “Most comically this can be when a troller known as a ‘grammar Nazi’ corrects someone’s spelling and makes a grammatical error in the process.

Manchester United’s record since the departure of Alex Ferguson has been poor. Manchester United’s management sacked its trophy-winning manager, David Moyes, only 9 months into his term at the club. The recent events show the club’s problems go far beyond the involvement of Moyes, known for his huge successes on Merseyside, as former manager of Everton.

Whilst Thomas Rosicky messed up in his trolling bid of Manchester United, it is clear that the club’s dismal record since Alex Ferguson left, and even more so after not seeing Moyes’s involvement as a long-term investment, is not a laughing matter.



Zelda Williams ‘forced to leave Twitter’

The daughter of actor Robin Williams, who was found dead on Monday 11 August 2014, has said she has deleted her social media accounts from her devices following abuse from what have become called ‘Internet trolls.’

Zelda Williams, 25, had made public statement on her father’s death. “He was always warm, even in his darkest moments,” she said. “While I’ll never, ever understand how he could be loved so deeply and not find it in his heart to stay, there’s minor comfort in knowing our grief and loss, in some small way, is shared with millions.”

Following this, Zelda Williams faced a barrage of abuse from social media users, on both Twitter and Instagram, resulting her seeing no option but to suspend her accounts. Out of desperation she tweeted, “Please report @PimpStory @MrGoosebuster. I’m shaking. I can’t. Please.”

Internet trolling expert Jonathan Bishop said there are serious flaws in the way Twitter deals with abusive messages. “Twitter only allow the reporting of posts where it is the person affected that reports them,” he said. “That can make it difficult for people suffering apprehension from trolling – which is a test in the UK for determining whether a message is grossly offensive, indecent, threatening or of a menacing character – as they may not have the immediate capacity to deal with the situation, especially in the case of Zelda Williams, who is suffering this abuse at the most difficult time from any son or daughter.

Councillor cleared of allegations

A councillor in Cardiff has been cleared of allegations made against him about his conduct on social media by an independent body in Wales.

Councillor Keith Jones, who represents the Llanrumney ward on Cardiff Council, was suspended by the Labour Party who thought that fact he “liked” young girls on the social media platform Instagram had the same meaning it would in an offline situation, when words like “like” and “follow” carry different meanings in Cyberspace.

A complaint accusing Councillor Keith Jones of breaking the Code of Conduct for local authority members was then made to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in February. The ombudsman’s office said it found there was no evidence of a breach of the Code of Conduct on Councillor Jones’ part.

Elizabeth Thomas is the director of investigations at the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales. “Instagram is a public photograph sharing platform. It does not allow for indecent or obscene photographs,” she said. “The ‘like’ feature is a commonly used feature which is intended to convey a public endorsement by the person sending the message which can be seen by other people.
“There is no element of secrecy to any information posted. Whilst Councillor Jones has responded to photographs using the ‘like’ feature or has engaged in online ‘discussions’ they appear to have been ‘two-way’ conversations and I have seen nothing improper or indecent in any of the photographs or Councillor Jones’ online responses.”

Councillor Keith Jones welcomed the outcome. Coun Jones said: “I am grateful to the Public Service Ombudsman for Wales for undertaking a thorough and intensive investigation before reaching their conclusions,” he said. “I welcome their findings. I am very pleased to have been exonerated.
“It has been a very upsetting period for myself and my family but I am now looking forward to continuing to serve my residents as a Labour councillor as mandated to by the people of Llanrumney who voted for me.”

Internet trolling expert Jonathan Bishop, who is a former Labour Party councillor, says the decision of the part to suspend Councillor Jones is likely to be based on factors other than his actual conduct. “There is no loyalty in the Labour Party as there is always someone ready to jump into your shoes,” he said. “The party is narcissistic, and any member, however established, should accept that if they are accused of something that makes the party less electable then no matter how many years of service they have given, they will be out on their ears.
“So based on my experience as a Labour Party branch and constituency officer, who provided reports to support potential election candidates, whether Councillor Jones is cleared by the party will unlikely be based on whether he is guilty or innocent, but whether or not they see him as an electoral liability or not.”

Councillor Siobhan Corria is a colleague of Councillor Keith Jones and is also of the view the Public Service Ombudsman got it right. “Keith has been suspended from the Labour Party for nearly a year and has conducted himself with dignity in the face of anonymous and unsubstantiated accusations,” she said. “I just hope to see things resolved for him and his family as soon as possible.”