Massachusetts brings social networking to the courtroom

open court - transparencyA Massachusetts courtroom is putting reporting into the hands of citizens by experimenting with social networking. OpenCourt is an experiment out of Quincy District Court run by Boston’s NPR station, and will allow journalists, bloggers, and anyone with an iPhone to use Wi-Fi to create real time updates and live stream cases as they unfold.

Up until now, courts have tried to bar electronic communication from the courtroom. Use of sites like Twitter and Facebook has resulted in mistrials, and the OpenCourt project is not without controversy. The full multimedia access to various court cases is supposed to “foster the openness of the American courts with the idea that more transparent court make for a stronger democracy,” but many are calling foul, saying their privacy is being infringed upon. Brian Dodge, charged with disorderly conduct and in court today, told the AP, “People at home being able to watch this and know my business – I don’t like that. Why does everybody need to see my case [online]? It’s nobody else’s business.” Alleged offenders aren’t the only concerned parties: Local defense attorney Richard Sweeney revealed he’s “not overly fond of the idea. I think there are a lot of pitfalls. I understand and respect the concept – they want an open court. In this era of everyone having cellphones and videos, I can understand that, but it’s fraught with perils for attorneys with conversations that can be picked up.”

open courtVisiting the court’s site reveals real time updates on the day’s events via its Twitter stream. “Man caught drinking Mike’s hard lemonade + beer in park gets 10 days community service but would rather pay $100 fine,” one post reads. Certain things are off limits, however. The presiding judge can determine whether or not the video steam goes live and is able to limit multimedia coverage of cases altogether. Restraining order hearings and juvenile sessions will be kept private, and no information that could harm witnesses or victims will be broadcast.

It’s an ambitious project, and one that could easily go two ways: Citizens may indeed increase their knowledge and awareness of the American legal system, but it also wildly multiplies the chances that confidential information could go public, or find itself in the wrong hands.

Social Media

Survey of teens says social media lets them connect with friends and get support

A survey of teenagers shows the ways that social media sites can be beneficial to them, like feeling more connected to their friends, the ability to interact with different people, and as a venue to get support when they are struggling.
Movies & TV

'Stranger Things' season 3 teaser reveals the new episodes' titles

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Social Media

Hotel chain offers an Instagram ‘sitter’ who will post photos for you

If the pressure to post stunning Instagram photos is ruining your vacations, then how about hiring a local Instagram influencer to do the job for you while you go off and enjoy yourself? Well, such a service now exists.
Social Media

Ride the rails and share your stories with Amtrak’s new social media residency

Amtrak is looking for travel fans with a knack for telling stories on social media. The new Amtrak social media residency program wants amateur travelers to share photos, video, and written content from aboard long-distance trips.
Social Media

Hangouts isn’t being hung out to dry in 2020, Google says

According to a report, Google may shut down Google Hangouts by 2020. While Hangouts was once Google's top-tier messaging app, the app has since been neglected in favor of Android Messages.
Social Media

Tumblr bans nudity to create ‘a safe place for creative expression’

Tumblr will soon no longer allow images with adult content. The company says the change is one that's designed to help more creators feel comfortable sharing on the platform, but admits the change won't happen overnight.
Social Media

Members can share the same Story with Facebook’s new Group Stories

Facebook Group members can now view and share Group Stories. Unlike the Stories for an individual user, the new tool allows members to contribute to the same Group Story, if the feature isn't turned off by an admin.
Social Media

You can now share saved Facebook posts with a Pinterest-like collection tool

Facebook collections can now be shared with friends if you also want to allow them to contribute to the list. Facebook is rolling out an update that allows users to add a contributor to their collections, or lists of saved Facebook posts.
Mobile

Broadway actor tells Kanye West to get off his phone during opening night

Theater actors can get understandably upset when they spot someone in the audience fiddling with their phone instead of watching the show. The other night that audience member was Kanye West, and he got called out for it.
Social Media

This event topped Facebook’s biggest moments of the year — again

As the year comes to a close, Facebook is looking back on what users discussed most over the last year. For two years in a row, International Women's Day topped the list. So what else is on the list?
Social Media

This band owns Twitter, according to list of top accounts and tweets for 2018

What was the biggest buzz on Twitter in 2018? Twitter's 2018 Year in Review highlights the biggest tweets, accounts, and hashtags. The most-tweeted celebrities, movies, TV shows, athletes, politicians and more in Twitter's 2018 trends.
Social Media

What do yodeling and Kylie Jenner have in common? YouTube’s top 2018 videos

In a true nod to the variety found on YouTube, the platform's top 10 list of videos from 2018 range from celebrities to sports, from perfectly tossing a picture frame on the wall to a kid yodeling in aisle 12 at Walmart.
Home Theater

It took Tom Cruise to raise awareness of this troublesome TV setting

Tom Cruise, in an unexpected PSA tweet, asks you to turn off motion interpolation on your TV, but stops short of how to do it. Here's more on the topic, along with links to a guide on how to rid your TV of the dreaded "soap opera effect."