It’s Not BBM, Twitter or Facebook. Stop Blaming the Tools!

Mass media is recently blaming social networks in general, and Blackberry Messenger in particular, for the London riots. Now the British Government is talking about shutting down social networks when necessary. And I can’t believe how naive all of this is.

Evil Blackberry

It seems very plausible that BBM, Twitter or Facebook were some of the tools used by rioters to spread their message, but it seems unrealistic to believe that shutting down these services is going to stop criminal activity. Not to mention the consequences this would have on its everyday legitimate use. Today there are hundreds of tools that allow us to communicate with huge groups of people at almost zero cost, so if BBM –or any other service– isn’t available, people will switch to another one. The root of the problem is the people, not the tools used by the people.

I understand, however, that all of these new ways of communicating present a big challenge for police forces around the globe. But they’ll have to adapt. A couple of decades ago their only concern was tapping phones: it required a small number of companies because all the information of a given suspect would go through a single path. Nowadays trying to get into all the networks of a user’s daily interaction is almost impossible. I’m not an engineer and maybe different tools can be tapped at the same time, but I think about all the tools I use and feel sorry for the officer in charge if I’m ever under surveillance: fixed and mobile phones, VOIP, email, IMs, social networks…

The good news for law enforcement agencies is that most of these new tools can be traced afterwards. Most require written communication, and that leaves a trace. It will probably be time consuming, but with the right tools I guess everything can be recovered. In fact I’ve read that Blackberry is already working with the police to track suspects.

This may be controversial, but a few days ago news were all about iPhone and maybe Android. Today Blackberry is back in the market! I’d kill to get info on the sales data per day to see if all this had any impact. Many people say their image has been damaged. I’m not so sure about it.


Posted: August 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: General | Tags: , , , , | 13,518 Comments »

You Can’t Claim an Inactive Twitter User Name Anymore

A couple of days ago I commented on Forrest W. Kobayashi post about Twitter names. I said that I had successfully claimed an inactive user name (@fernando) and said I’d search for the info on the process and post about it because the author thought it was not possible.

And it turns out that he was right. When I got my user name changed (January 09) it was possible to ask Twitter for a name which was inactive (nine months without any activity), but later they decided that they would not do it anymore. I suppose that it was too much work and they just gave up, so I was quite lucky!

This is the original post in Get Satisfaction in which a Twitter employee outlined the process you had to follow to claim an inactive user name.

And here you can see that the don’t do it anymore.

Just as a last check, I tried to change the user name in another account I own, and in a few minutes I received an email in which Twitter said that they don’t do this anymore. You can see below the email I received in January 09 and the email I’ve just received. Only in a few cases they only will make this kind of changes:

If your user name request concerns impersonation, trademark infringement, brand squatting, copyright, or another Terms of Service violation


Posted: December 16th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , | 15,163 Comments »