Cue the outcry — more big Twitter changes on the way

Friday. Good morning (or good evening, if you’re reading this at night). Andrew Beaujon is back next week.

  1. Let’s freak out about Twitter changes: Sayeth Twitter: “in many cases, the best Tweets come from people you already know, or know of. But there are times when you might miss out on Tweets we think you’d enjoy.” Noooooooo! (Twitter) | Stuart Dredge weighs in: “The difference between the two social networks is that Facebook is taking stories out of its news feed – it prioritises around 300 a day out of a possible 1,500 for the average user – while Twitter is only adding tweets in. For now, at least.” (The Guardian) | Previously: I wrote about the Facebookification of Twitter and the Twitterfication of Facebook. (Poynter)
  2. More Twitter changes: Now with audio! “Notably, Twitter is teaming up with Apple to let users listen to certain tracks and buy the music directly from the iTunes store,” Yoree Koh reports. Twitter is also partnering with Soundcloud. (Wall Street Journal) | “Throughout your listening experience, you can dock the Audio Card and keep listening as you continue to browse inside the Twitter app,” product manager Richard Slatter writes in a blog post. (Twitter)
  3. The media kinda sucks at covering Ebola: Just look at how it covered #ClipboardMan, Arielle Duhaime-Ross writes. (The Verge)
  4. Liberian media really sucks at covering Ebola: The Daily Observer newspaper “has become a feeding ground of phony conspiracy,” Terrence McCoy reports. “The top three news stories on the website all allege medical professionals purposely infected the country with Ebola, ideas that have drawn the conspiratorial from across the planet.” The bad journalism is leading to a debate over press freedom in the country. (Washington Post) | From yesterday: The BBC is using WhatsApp to spread accurate information about the virus in Africa. (
  5. Correction of the week: Deadspin retracted its story claiming U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner didn’t actually play high school football, as he claimed, after the primary source changed his mind. “As serial collectors of media fuck-ups, we add this self-portrait to the gallery,” editor Tommy Craggs writes. (Deadspin) | Earlier, Craggs told Erik Wemple, “If you’re looking for someone to blame here, blame me for getting way too cocky about my site’s ability to prove a negative.” (Washington Post)
  6. Whisper vs. The Guardian: A damning report in The Guardian on Thursday claimed Whisper, “the social media app that promises users anonymity and claims to be ‘the safest place on the internet’, is tracking the location of its users, including some who have specifically asked not to be followed.” (The Guardian) | Whisper editor-in-chief Neetzan Zimmerman angrily denied the report, and wrote on Twitter that the piece “is lousy with falsehoods, and we will be debunking them all.” (Washington Post) | Here’s a good explainer from Carmel DeAmicis: “The two sides disagree over what constitutes ‘personally identifiable information,’ whether rough location data tied to a user’s previous activity could expose someone.” (Gigaom) | And here’s a take from Mathew Ingram, who says Whisper’s problem is that it “wants to be both an anonymous app and a news entity at the same time.” (Gigaom)
  7. American journalists detained in Russia: Joe Bergantino, co-founder of the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, and Randy Covington, a professor at the University of South Carolina, are in Russia to teach an investigative journalism workshop. They were found guilty of “violating the visa regime” and will return to the U.S. on Saturday as scheduled. “Russian authorities have used visa issues in the past as a pretext to bar the entry for certain individuals to the country,” Nataliya Vasilyeva reports. (AP via ABC News)
  8. Good times at High Times: Subscriptions and advertising pages are growing for “the magazine about all things marijuana” as it celebrates its 40th birthday. Dan Skye, High Times’ editorial director, tells Michael Sebastian, “I think the legalization has everything to do with the boom.” (Ad Age)
  9. Front page of the day, curated by Kristen Hare: The Daily News (see it at the Newseum).NY_DN
  10. No job moves today: Benjamin Mullin has the day off. But be sure to visit Poynter’s jobs site. Happy weekend!

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Team podcasts disappear from iTunes after MLB complains about trademarks

NBC Sports | Awful Announcing

A number of baseball podcasts disappeared from iTunes after complaints from Major League Baseball about trademark infringement, Craig Calcaterra reports for NBC Sports. MLB says it notified Apple about “infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs” and “asked Apple to have these trademarks removed from the podcast titles and thumbnails.”

A bunch of podcasts vanished after that, Joe Lucia reports for Awful Announcing. Ted Price, who hosts a Texas Rangers podcast, tells Lucia iTunes accounts for almost all his downloads.

An MLB spokesperson told Calcaterra it didn’t ask for the podcasts to get 86′d: “Given our many years of experience in notifying Apple about trademark issues on the Store, we trust that removing the podcasts was an oversight, and ask that you please look into this matter as soon as possible.”

At least one professional sports team has zealously protected its trademarks when it comes to media coverage. The Washington Redskins in 2011 forced The Washington Post to change the name of its blog about the team from Redskins Insider to Football Insider. The Redskins also asked a blog called Redskins Republic to change its name; it’s now Hail Republic. (An increasing number of outlets have stopped printing the Redskins’ name for a different reason.) Read more


Apple removes Financial Times apps from iTunes

Apple has revoked its approval of the Financial Times iPhone and iPad apps, which have not complied with new terms that took effect two months ago. Apple now requires apps to use its iTunes payment system for all content purchases, but the Financial Times has refused to do that. The publisher uses its own transaction system, which gives it access to subscriber data and avoids paying Apple a 30 percent fee. The move seemed inevitable after the two parties reached a standoff and the FT launched a browser-based version of its app to circumvent Apple. || Earlier: Financial Times launches Web app to avoid Apple’s fees and restrictions | New York Times begins selling mobile subscriptions through iTunes Read more


Unofficial WikiLeaks app pulled from iTunes store

The Guardian

An unofficial WikiLeaks iPhone app has been pulled from the iTunes store less than a week after being approved for sale.

The app, which cost $1.99 and donated $1 of each sale to WikiLeaks, provided a mobile version of the controversial website. Jemima Kiss reports that the app’s developer was given no reason for its removal from the store.

A search in the iTunes store reveals several other apps that include WikiLeaks RSS feeds, and Kiss points out that a few WikiLeaks apps are also available for download in the Google Android Marketplace.

While the iPhone app may have been removed for violating Apple’s terms of service, the abrupt action adds to the perception that the company is tone deaf in its role as media gatekeeper.

At TechCrunch, Alexia Tsotsis points out a number of U.S. corporations have recently distanced themselves from WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. But, without an explanation for Apple’s decision in this case, consumers and pundits are left to guess if the Wikileaks App was removed for internal policy violations or external political considerations. Read more


Case in Japan raises question of ‘safe harbor’ copyright protections for Apple

The Wall Street Journal

A dispute over pirated books in Japan raises an interesting question for publishers concerned with the restrictive nature of Apple’s mobile app approval policies.

A consortium of Japanese publishers is reportedly upset that apps containing illegally copied books have been sold in the iTunes store. Daisuke Wakabayashi reports that material from several well-known Japanese authors was scanned, converted into mobile apps and placed for sale. Apple has since removed the apps.

The publishers, Wakabayashi writes, are calling on Apple to be more careful in its review process:

“In a joint press release on Tuesday, the Japan Book Publishers Association, the Japan Magazine Publishers Association, The Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan, and Digital Comic Association said Apple’s distribution of content that clearly infringes copyright is ‘illegal.’

‘The associations we represent believe that Apple bears grave responsibility for this problem,’ the statement said.”

In response, Apple claimed it has a duty to remove illegal material once notified of it, but said that it cannot monitor all such violations during the original app approval process.

As Wakabayashi points out, a similar controversy has arisen between YouTube and Viacom over pirated video content. A federal judge ruled this summer that YouTube had a “safe harbor” from copyright liability as long as it removed infringing user-published material once notified by the actual copyright owner. The safe harbor provision is part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and was created to protect Internet services that allow users to self-publish content on the Web.

Apple has apparently not used the safe harbor defense in any U.S. cases, but it is claiming protection from liability based on that principle of law. The iTunes store, however, is not a “user-generated” content platform. Apple maintains strict oversight, applying technical and content standards to any app submitted for download or sale. So, while this particular case is outside of the U.S., it raises an intriguing question and would be interesting to know how, or if, the DMCA applies to Apple’s app review process.

Hypothetically, claiming safe harbor protections might mean Apple would be allowed to dictate technical standards for apps, but not content standards as they do now.

That determination, if one were made, could go a long way toward clarifying Apple’s ability to restrict the types of materials publishers are allowed to distribute in the iTunes store. Read more


Doctor: iNewsstand “not too far away”

Nieman Journalism Lab
Ken Doctor predicts the long-awaited iTunes subscription news stand is on its way, and might be announced in conjunction with the iPad 2 unveiling in January.

Regardless of the timing — some expected it on Dec. 9 — Doctor describes what he believes it will look like:

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Time Inc. digital chief says customer relationship a core principle on mobile

Ad Age
The new chief digital officer for Time Inc. said Monday that maintaining contact with customers is a “core principle” of the subscription business, even on mobile devices.

Randall Rothenberg, speaking Monday to Edmund Lee, declined to comment directly on Apple’s iTunes store policies, which currently restrict the customer information available to publishers. But Rothenberg was clear he believes Apple must compromise on the issue:

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