Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rappler CEO Maria Ressa Tweet Taken Out of Context

Wazzup Pilipinas!
"A recent U.S. court decision clarified that media organizations cannot assume that photos shared via Twitter are rights-free, to be used as though they were in the public domain."
"Social networks may be in the public domain but it doesn't make pictures and articles public USE". This is a statement form one of the netizens who was alarmed by the apparent reply of Rappler's Maria Ressa after a certain Erwin Aguilon, with Twitter name Erwin AguilonDZIQ, reported to Rappler that they used his photo without permission. Though there was attribution to the source of the photograph, Rappler did not ask permission from him.

A screen capture of the tweets between Erwin Aguilon and Maria Ressa shows a reply made by the Rappler CEO, but later Maria Ressa explained her side saying that was her second tweet, and that she had a first tweet before that. Her statements below:

My tweet was taken out of context – easy to do in 140 characters. When Erwin tagged me, I was in Narita airport. I responded by saying I didn’t know what this was about and asked him to go through proper channels so his concerns could be addressed. My second tweet was to remind him what we post on any social network is in the public domain, meaning the information is publicly available, i.e. reportable under fair use, and in the case of Twitter, can be retweeted and embedded (like what was done with my own tweet). I was not referring to the legal definition which is connected to copyright and ownership. As a journalist, I have great respect for content creators and know they own the content they create. While I was still travelling, Rappler's editorial team addressed his concerns. The post cited him as a source but was used without his permission. Rappler immediately took down the photo and posted this editor’s note: “This article had used a photo by Erwin Aguilon without his permission. We apologize for the lapse and have removed the photo. - Maria Ressa

The Philippines has the 2nd Highest Facebook penetration in the world after Brazil. The Facebook statistics here on the Philippines is staggering. Consider also these figures:

34 Million accounts in the Philippines
8.2 Million are in Android
4.2 Million are in iOS
16.2 Million Males vs 17.8 Million Females
22 Million aged 21 or older 65%

I don't have the data yet on Twitter, but the figures should be similar as the two social media networks are the most popular and widely used here in the Philippines followed by Instagram.

Whatever message we send, tweet, share, or post online gets picked up by who knows who....and with that process, the "ownership" or the real identity of the source would most of the time be extremely hard to determine.

But in Rappler's case, they admitted to the use of the photo without the permission of the owner thus the apology.

So this means it is not enough to just cite or give credit to the owners but would require also an authorization of usage? Maybe for photographs, illustrations, art works, etc., but what about their quoted statements or taken form interviews, or from news reports, etc., Can we print their written or verbal statement freely without asking for permission?

With social media networks making everything and anything viral and shareable, ownerships have become almost synonymous to public domain use? Nah! There was this reps from TV stations that still asked my permission even though my image was all over the Internet so it means there are still people, and news agencies, out there that value ownership.

Rappler was in the hot seat, but has surely bounced back to stardom when the next big issues emerged and their fault buried under tons of new and more controversial news.

Only in the Philippines?

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