You're Talking a Lot, But You're Not Saying Anything

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How does commentary affect the world around us?

Commentary Gets Flickr User in Trouble

Photosharing site Flickr recently erased the entire account of one user based on a comment he made on a White House photo thread. Business Week quotes the deletion victim as saying, “I thought it would be an appropriate place to start a discussion about politics. There’s this kind of gray area – is it owned by the White House vis-à-vis the American people and the taxpayers, or is it owned by Flickr?”

Free speech is protected by the Constitution, but not necessarily by individual websites. Can a site reserve the right to take entire accounts–not just comments–down based on users’ speech? Further complicating the issue is the fact that the account in question was deleted not necessarily for speech, but for graphic images–of torture victims–posted in his commentary. The pictures certainly added strength to the argument (the commentary was opposed to Barack Obama’s decision to allow the censorship of torture photos). But were they too offensive? Perhaps the real question at the heart of the matter is, do we truly “own” our online “communities” (or commentary, or photos) as long as they’re taking place on sites owned by corporations?

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