Social sites ban together to oppose California Social Networking Privacy Act

coalitionProposed legislation in California is seeking to give parents increased access to their children’s social networking accounts while simultaneously requiring sites like Facebook to seriously alter their privacy settings. SB 242, or the Social Networking Privacy Act, spearheaded by Senator Ellen Corbett, would require social sites to fundamentally reformat how they operate and share information. “You shouldn’t have to sign in and give up your personal information before you get to the part where you say, ‘Please don’t share my personal information,’” Corbett says. In short, your profile and all of its accompanying personal information would be private by default and you would select what would be public, a complete 180 to how most social sites currently operate.

Facebook responded, calling the legislation a “serious threat.” Today, the site has taken action and partnered with industry heavyweights including Google, Twitter, Zynga,, Skype, eHarmoney, and Yahoo to formally oppose the bill. A letter from the coalition addressed SB 242’s various concerns, and here we break down some of the legaliese to decipher what Facebook and its industry cohorts are saying.

“SB 242 would establish a ceiling, undermining meaningful consumer choice while incentivizing this growing industry to expand their operations anywhere but California.”

This is, more or less, a thinly veiled threat to the state. The Bay Area and Silicon Valley are synonymous with social networking sites and are the home of most of the big names in the industry, including Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. These companies know how much money and prestige they’ve generated for the state as well as the innovation they’ve spurred and brought there, and they won’t be restricted. Try to hamper their plans and they will relocate somewhere that won’t. The letter also hints this legislation would cause “significant damage to California’s vibrant Internet commerce industry at a time when the state can least afford it.” Translation: Drop it, or else.

“A common just-in-time, contextual privacy notice on a popular social networking site has fewer than forty words, describes exactly the information to be shared and with whom, and is easily understood by a layperson.”

Basically, the coalition is telling backers of SB 242 it knows what it’s doing. The bill requests that such sites more thoroughly explain their privacy policies and do so before a user begins the registration process. “A description of all availability privacy and visibility options to a consumer who has never used the service in question could take thousands of words and up to half an hour to read.” And who’s going to read through all of that? Not very many people. Facebook recently has attempted to take the legal-speak out of its Terms of Service, as it found most people would only glaze these policies and find the jargon too overwhelming and the pages too many. This type of format scares off users, the coalition argues, and should they implement the legislation’s requests users will take less action in their privacy, or forgo these options altogether.

“The major social networking sites already remove personal information when the requestor specifies the information to be removed and the information is not already widely available.”

The header of the section this statement falls under says it all: “SB 242 is unnecessary.” It sounds like the coalition is telling the bill’s proponents they should have checked their facts a little better. Part of the bill states that social networking sites would remove information requested of them within 48 hours of the request being issue, and particularly pertains to parents of minors with accounts that want information about their children removed. According to the letter of opposition, there is currently no issue with this. Such requests are almost being granted, and the penalty the bill would impose for not meeting the exact demands – $10,000 – is wildly outlandish.

Lawmakers have attempted to curb the reach and capabilities of social networking sites, largely unsuccessful. The scope of SB 242 is so wide, it’s likely to find a similar fate.

Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

These Xbox One exclusives are the definition of quality over quantity

Xbox One has a prestigious collection of handpicked titles that you can't play on other consoles. Here are the latest and greatest Xbox One exclusives, including some that are also available on PC

Apple's iOS 12.2 brings support for Apple News Plus and new AirPlay 2 features

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Social Media

Facebook axes alleged discriminatory targeting of ads after civil settlements

Facebook advertisers can no longer use targeting for age, gender or zip code when advertising in the housing, jobs, and credit categories. The changes come as part of a civil settlement, following earlier changes to remove racial targeting.