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NY Times Asks Twitter To Shut Down Retweeting Feed 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the stop-repeating-me dept.
WesternActor writes "According to PCMag.com, the New York Times has asked Twitter to shut down the FreeNYT Twitter feed that basically retweets all of the Times' articles. Is this really possible? After all, the feed just points to a list of Times Twitter accounts, all of which can also be found on the Times' website. If the Times succeeds in shutting this down, it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general."
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NY Times Asks Twitter To Shut Down Retweeting Feed

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It would violate the twitter TOS, and its usage model... NYT can't have it both ways. Either they use twitter, or they don't

    • by appleguru (1030562) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:07PM (#35590360) Homepage Journal

      I should have looked it up before I rattled off a first post without being logged in, but it would indeed violate the standard TOS (unless NYT agreed to a custom version, which I doubt):

      You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).

      http://twitter.com/tos [twitter.com]

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        The content isn't being posted by the NYT, so they don't actually have permission to it in the first place.

        Just because some random guy puts content on twitter without permission doesn't mean twitter gets permission.

        If the NYT officially tweeted the tweets then it would be another story, but this is someone else, who is unauthorized doing it.

        Twitter is getting the content illegally (though not through any fault of their own) so their TOS is irrelevant. Its roughly the same as someone stealing my car, givin

        • by appleguru (1030562) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:19PM (#35590520) Homepage Journal

          Did you even *read* TFS? That's the problem exactly. The NYT *is* the ones originally posting the content (yes, largely headlines), on Twitter. And now they are asking for the retweeting of their tweets to be blocked. Absurd.

          • by Avalon73 (215477)

            He's not even retweeting, though... that's the thing. All he did was mirror the list of Twitter feeds that the NYT has already published on the web as a Twitter list, so that you only have 1 thing to follow instead of 40. Nothing is being reproduced, or even forwarded.

            Either the NYT lawyers don't have a clue how Twitter works, or they just don't like what the guy is saying about them. The latter is the free speech issue.

          • by segin (883667)
            And the retweet feature is how Twitter sublicenses the content in compliance with the TOS. This is all perfectly legal, NYT is just butthurt that someone is screwing them in a wholly legal manner.
            • by Kjella (173770)

              That said Twitter doesn't have to do anything just because it's legal. If NYT says "please stop doing X" then Twitter doesn't have to comply but they also don't have to refuse. They may find it's good business to make some kind of exemption for NYT - or not. After all nothing forces NYT to put their links on twitter either, if they don't like it they can take their ball and go play elsewhere. Personally I think Twitter should just tell NYT to shove it, but then I'm not always thinking with a sound business

              • by vegiVamp (518171)

                If they decide to do what the NYT asks, then they are taking something wholly legal away from another user. Not only does this set a bad precedent, but it might even open them up for a lawsuit for breaching their own TOS or something. Not sure about that, though, I don't even use twitter.

                Besides, even if they remove that feed, that doesn't stop dozens of other people to set up new aggretator feeds just to spite the NYT. Twitter could presumably block ALL retweeting of NYT feeds, but that would sooner or lat

          • Indeed, the NYT has explicitly agreed that Twitter has the right to do what has been done. If they don't like having their tweets copied, processed, adapted, or published, they need to stop using Twitter.

        • A shame, I'd really love twitter to simply start censoring any links pointing to nyt controlled sites. somebody needs to teach them a lesson and twitter has the weight to pull it off. Of course they'll never imagine such a thing because of some bizarre sort of corporate brotherhood.

    • Who cares. Twitter is a pile of crap, and should be a passing fad if it weren't for the deluge of idiots that exist these days.
  • Um... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:04PM (#35590324)

    Won't people just create replacements using lists?

    If NYT doesn't want their material tweeted, then maybe they should stop tweeting them.

    • Exactly what the Twitter account in question brought up: "Dear NYT: if you don't want people following your stories on Twitter then you probably shouldn't, you know, post 'em on Twitter."

      And to add to the lack of logic and/or sanity, there's this gem mentioned in TFA: The NY Times spent $40 million on a paywall that can be defeated by clearing the browser's cache!

  • shut out NYT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:05PM (#35590332) Homepage Journal
    Just like the WSJ, and FT, this simply means that I won't be pointing any tweets to the NYT. No traffic driven to the site, no ad revenue. Maybe the $300 a year they want for an ipad subscription will generate sufficient revenue.
  • by Hatta (162192)

    So obvious, I predicted [slashdot.org] it as soon as I read the first story.

  • Why doesn't Twitter first open up their walled garden?

    • Why would they? Where's the business case? What, if they don't then the Times is going to stop using their service? ooooooooo

    • by treeves (963993)

      Because then they would become fragmented. Or something.

  • erm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberfin (1454265) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:06PM (#35590354)
    "it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general".

    Eh, no. Just no. Stop it.
    • by smelch (1988698)
      Yeah, either they will take it down or NYT will stop letting twitter users around their pay wall. Its simple. Its not censorship of free speech, its "Hey, since we're doing this for your people, could you do this in good faith for us?" Free speech doesn't mean everybody has to give you a venue to say what you want.
      • Yeah, either they will take it down or NYT will stop letting twitter users around their pay wall. Its simple. Its not censorship of free speech, its "Hey, since we're doing this for your people, could you do this in good faith for us?" Free speech doesn't mean everybody has to give you a venue to say what you want.

        The simpler version is that there is no court involvement right now. There is no 'free speech' issue or chilling effect or anything like that. Those terms were just used to grab eyeballs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "Free Speech" only applies TO THE GOVERNMENT. If the government tried to force Twitter to stop tweets about the war, that would be a free speech issue.

      Here it is in the original text: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      I have no problem with people actually standing up for t

      • Re:erm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kidcharles (908072) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:30PM (#35590654)
        Who even mentioned the 1st Amendment? Free speech as a principle is bigger than just the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Just because something isn't technically in violation of that particular clause doesn't mean it isn't undermining the freedom of speech. As a hypothetical example, if Comcast decided not to allow any discussion of FCC regulatory policies to flow through their network infrastructure it wouldn't technically be a violation of the 1st Amendment, but it would quite clearly be a blow to free speech.
        • Sadly, the only reason Comcast could get away with that is because it's in a monopoly position. If there was actual competition in the telco space, anyone who cared about that issue could kick them to the curb - and nobody's free speech would be impinged. Hopefully, enough people would care, and the telco would go under.

          We only really need to care about government censorship, because that's the only sort that we can't just avoid (and kill off in the process). That also extends to government-endorsed monopol

        • by dthx1138 (833363)
          When you say "free speech" it's generally assumed that you are referring to censorship by the government, because well, that is the only kind protected by law. Censorship from private entities is common- that's their right. For some reason in the internet age, people have begun to equate the two. Do you think the average citizen would have been outraged in the the 1700s or 1800s if a newspaper refused to publish the letters of everyone who wrote to the editor?
          • Twitter isn't akin to a newspaper, they're a message transport system much like a post office.

            Don't you think the citizens would be outraged in the 1700s or 1800s if the post office destroyed the postcards they didn't agree with?

      • The protections for the freedom of speech in the US Constitution are, as you say, applicable only against governmental acts.

        But free speech in general is not limited to issues of government censorship, and NYT's actions, if successful, would indeed hinder the free speech of Twitter's users.

      • Well, they aren't "asking", they are actually making a trademark claim (!!). When they have to resort to bullying before they've even gotten started, it's proof that their business model is stupid beyond belief.

        As for "free speech", perhaps the definition needs changing to reflect today's realities, specifically that the government has delegated censorship to private parties to circumvent the constitution (by refusing service, as Twitter could do, or by making IP claims, as in the NYT is doing).

      • Re:erm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:56PM (#35591028) Homepage

        "Free Speech" only applies TO THE GOVERNMENT.

        No, free speech is free speech. The constitutional protections of free speech are applicable to the government.

        There is still plenty of sound argument and valid reasoning to want to have free speech that is protected from the actions of individuals and corporations.

        In the real world, this becomes difficult or impossible to enforce. Hence the saying that free speech is not without consequences.

        Nevertheless, it is in the interests of the people to advocate for a broad reaching, maximized freedom of speech, subject to practical limits of enforcement, and reason (let's avoid stupid logical paradoxes and fallacies in the pursuit of freest speech). There's some wiggle room for weasels in the concept of "practical limits" but clearly the guiding principle should be that the limits on speech should be kept as minimal as possible.

        Corporate censorship may not be illegal, but it is still wrong and the good and righteous still ought to fight the good fight against it.

    • "it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general".

      Thumbs up. I jumped on this same sentence. Free speech isn't really involved here.

    • Who cares? Throw them out the window! Forcing people to accept a stupid corporation's stupid business model is all that matters!
  • The NYT is backing itself into a corner, and is putting itself in a similar position as the RIAA. They are antagonizing their fans and readers. I just wonder how long it will be until they start suing people who regularly access their content through 'backdoor' means.
    • by dzfoo (772245)

      Not really. They are antagonizing a bunch of freeloaders that, when offered a free exception to the new pay wall in good faith, decided to exploit it by retweeting mechanically, wholesale.

      I don't think those are the readers the New York Times is looking for.

            dZ.

  • Alternatives (Score:3, Interesting)

    by freakingme (1244996) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:07PM (#35590362)
    Luckily there are alternatives like http://identi.ca/ [identi.ca] . Great joy for developers (lots of api access), and it's distributed, so they cant pull stunts like the ones twitter has been doing lately. Also, it can sync with twitter so you only have to type all your microblogs just once.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Awesome ... its distributed ... except not really since you have to go to a central site to start with.

      • No, you can install on your own server and register your accounts there. Identi.ca is just an instance of it, you don't have to use it at all.

    • by Bogtha (906264)

      That's not an alternative in this case. The NYT has recently put up a paywall so that only paying members can read articles. They aren't entirely stupid, they realise this will make people stop linking to them, so they've added exceptions to make sharing articles more likely.

      One of these exceptions is for Twitter - if somebody links to the article from their Twitter account, you don't have to pay to read the article. Cue a Twitter account that posts links to all of their articles, thus subverting the

      • You're absolutely right. What I meant however, was that lately twitter has been censoring more and more people, have been pushing ads everywhere, announced that they're not accepting new client apps, etc. Identi.ca is an alternative to twitter. Not an alternative of getting to the NYT.
      • by DavidTC (10147)

        No, cue their own twitter accounts that are publishing links to all their articles. And this guy's account that list all those accounts.

        The NYT is even stupid than this article makes them sound. They're the ones tweeting the links, and no one is 'retweeting' them.

        Twitter has a feature where an account can publish a group of other accounts, like 'famous TV stars' or whatever, which people can see all at once, or even follow or unfollow as a group. Some guy went and combed through the NYT's pages and colle

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:07PM (#35590370)

    NYT: Please refrain from letting anything newsworthy happen until we have reported on it... Thank you.

  • by Third Position (1725934) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:08PM (#35590382)

    If the Times succeeds in shutting this down, it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general."

    Anything that has a chilling effect on Twitter can't be all bad!

    • I'm not sure which is more frightening and depressing: the fact that you were modded insightful (rather than funny), or the fact that I agree with that moderation.
  • The title for this post should be "New York Times Asks Twitter to Shut Down Paywall-Evading Account". The actual story here is how NYT's paywall is flawed [slashdot.org]
  • After their fervent Wikileaks support, and their history of publishing classified documents, now they're on the other side of the coin with people publishing information that they want to have control over.

    Seems like poetic justice to me.

    • After their fervent Wikileaks support, and their history of publishing classified documents, now they're on the other side of the coin with people publishing information that they want to have control over.

      Seems like poetic justice to me.

      Perhaps I'm being trolled here but...Uhh..no. This is quite different. The Wikileaks disclosures and the Pentagon Papers, etc. is journalism.

      Getting "documents" from NYT in violation of the license they grant to users for their *copyrighted* (whether or not you or anyone else think it has value) content is helping folks to steal.

      As was pointed out in the comments to the other "NYT Paywall" post today, reporters, editors, web server admins, etc. rely on the NYT revenue to eat and pay rent and all those

      • by DrSpock11 (993950)

        After their fervent Wikileaks support, and their history of publishing classified documents, now they're on the other side of the coin with people publishing information that they want to have control over.

        Seems like poetic justice to me.

        Perhaps I'm being trolled here but...Uhh..no. This is quite different. The Wikileaks disclosures and the Pentagon Papers, etc. is journalism.

        Getting "documents" from NYT in violation of the license they grant to users for their *copyrighted* (whether or not you or anyone else think it has value) content is helping folks to steal.

        As was pointed out in the comments to the other "NYT Paywall" post today, reporters, editors, web server admins, etc. rely on the NYT revenue to eat and pay rent and all those good things that some of us (if you go by some of the comments) don't need to do.

        That's like saying 'It doesn't matter that Laura HIllenbrand expended effort to create "Unbroken" I should be able to read her book for free because its available as an ebook.'

        N.B.: I picked that author/book off the NYT's bestseller list only because it is available as an ebook not as an endorsement of the book.

        Some of you may say, "Why should I pay for the crap they post on the NYT website? The NYT are a bunch of hacks and losers who wouldn't know jpurnalism if it came up and bit them on the ass." Fair enough. If you feel that way, don't read their content. But don't justify stealing their content by saying they suck.

        So publishing classified government documents is somehow not stealing? Somewhere along the line, someone has to have stolen the documents, by definition, as they were classified.

        The Times can't have it both ways. The philosophy behind publishing classified documents is that no information should be restricted to only certain people. They then can't turn around and try to enact draconian restrictions to their own information.

        The reality is that they only believe in freedom of information when it suits their

        • They then can't turn around and try to enact draconian restrictions to their own information.

          The reality is that they only believe in freedom of information when it suits their financial and political motivations.

          My apologies. I guess my analogy wasn't sufficiently clear.

          Information (e.g., government documents, Baseball box scores, etc.) is not the same thing as creative expression (e.g., news articles, books, etc.). Wikileaks posts information. Newspapers engage in creative expression (you can argue about the value of that expression if you want, but it's still creative expression).

          Do you get the point now?

  • "Chilling effect" is something the government does to Free Speech, and is illegal so they can't do it when the courts say they can't. Private organizations can't do it at all without your cooperation. Not even the NY Times. They can ask nice, but fuck 'em if I keep aggregating their shit.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      That's okay, not like I use twitter. I stopped reading the NYT about 6 years ago when they went even more bat shit insane than usual. But if they want to put themselves in to a fine gated community and refuse to let anyone unless they pay. They can finish dying off in the era of new media.

  • That a commercial entity requests that Twitter not automatically feed all of their news articles to the world hardly seems like an affront to free speech. You or I may not care for that policy but I must admit, the NYT isn't making much money off of me either way. The news reporting business in general is struggling to find a way to stay afloat and the cry that they owe it to us gratis doesn't help.
  • by zill (1690130) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:23PM (#35590558)
    Zill writes

    "According to PCMag.com, the New York Times has asked Twitter to shut down [pcmag.com] the FreeNYT Twitter feed [twitter.com] that basically retweets all of the Times' articles. Is this really possible? After all, the feed just points to a list [twitter.com] of Times Twitter accounts, all of which can also be found on the Times' website [nytimes.com]. If the Times succeeds in shutting this down, it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general."

  • So, @freenyt is retweeting @nytimes. And @nytimes is the official twitter feed. Is that correct?

    I just don't see why anyone would follow @freenyt when they could follow @nytimes. Surely both are available on twitter.
    • the NY Times tweets their headlines under 20 or so different accounts (nytimesarts, nytimesopinions, etc). freenyt has a list [twitter.com] of all of them. You could do the same with any twitter client, too.
  • Free speech? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Speech isn't free, slashdot. It has a cost: Stop using Twitter. But that's not convenient, is it? And that, right there, is how freedom dies.
  • There is no chilling effect, that is total hyperbole. To have a chilling effect there has to be possible negative consequences or reprisal for an action. Having a free twitter account where all you do is retweet shutdown is not going to give anyone the chills. You can create new one in 5min.

    Now if they sued the person who set the account up or something that might have chilling effect.

  • The New York Times is not a biased news source! Stop saying it is! It is the oasis of objective news in a world of bribed sources. You might as well say that National Public Radio doesn't represent the Public of the Nation via the medium of Radio.
  • Tweet should have an option for "do not allow retweet for this tweet". Problem solved.

    Of course, it doesn't forbid people manually copy/paste the text, but still, this could be a useful feature.

    • by jvkjvk (102057)

      So, now you want to add DRM to tweets, too?

      Gah.

      Twitter is an information sharing service. Let's try to keep anything we can able to be shared, ok?

  • by thehossman (198379) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @03:44PM (#35590806)

    The twitter account in question isn't retweeting the URLs.

    There is no automated bot in play here.

    All this guy did was create a "Twitter List" of the ~40 official Twitter Accounts used by the NYTimes (they seem to have one per section of their site) ...

    https://twitter.com/#!/FreeNYT/firehose/members [twitter.com]

    ...if you follow that "list" you get access to all of those URLs.

    You would get access to the same URLs if you followed each of those ~40 individual twitter accounts directly.

    Essentially the NYT is complaining that someone is promoting the existence of their twitter accounts.

    • by npcole (251514)

      I hope that the NYTimes can find a business model that works on the web. I really do. I hope they manage to persuade people to pay for their journalism.

      But, and I cannot stress this enough, I hope their model is one that works without having to make special arrangements with, or otherwise threaten and interfere with, other providers of content on the web and ISPs.

      Their problem is that they want the promotion benefits of sites like Twitter, and they want to make the NYT free to people who come from there s

  • The only reason they can even ask for this is that the feed has "NYT" in its name. They should just relaunch under the name "FreeGreyLady" or something ("the grey lady" being an old-school nickname for the New York TImes, even though it's been in color for a while now.) Assuming the Times' hasn't trademarked that, I'd think they couldn't touch it.

  • by ChronoFish (948067) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @04:05PM (#35591182) Journal
    By stopping it at its source. So shutdown the NYTimes twitter account - that way there will be no way to re-tweet it.

    -CF
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Can't you see, this paywall thing, facebook, and all the app stuff ist just AWESOME!

    finally, all the frakking idiots are hidden from the internet. The internet(TM) is going to be cleaned.

    nasty discussions about fake journalism are taking place aside from the public, nobody gives a shit if polititian A really did boink his dog. THAT'S JUST AWESOME!

    All the idiots discussing farts behind closed doors on facebook. Please, PLEASE, more paywalls and the like.

    Appify everything that mainstream-retards like, make th

  • Don't read it, don't buy it, and for damn certain don't pay for online access to it. Good lord, read your news anywhere else; these guys are out of control.
  • Violate freedom of speech? Where have you been the past few months...
  • Shutting it down will only trigger imitators. Heck, asking for shutdown may have already done that.

  • ...could just attract enough online advertisers?
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      no, their model wouldn't work on that, they're apparently so expensive to run as an organization.

      they need paying customers on top of the ad money on the pages, if the ads on the pages were sufficient on their own then no paywall would have made any sense to put up. also, this is actually why huffington post got bought for so much money while nyt needs to throw away tens of millions to just keep a web site running(network costs are not in that i reckon..).

  • >If the Times succeeds in shutting this down, it could have a chilling effect for Twitter and online free speech in general.
    When are we going to stick with tech news, reading your daily times through twitter hardly counts as geekspeak dudes, wake up and smell the java, or fire cmdtaco for letting it turn this bad, but do something!

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