I don't have any idea what the executives at Apple think of the Hottest Girls app, but whatever their private morality, adding parental controls to iPhone software shows that they saw an opportunity and went after it, albeit reluctantly at first. Incidentally, the Hottest Girls app is (temporarily?) unavailable: The developer's site was reportedly overwhelmed by traffic. Yes, there is some speculation that the app was censored, but because there are another dozen or so naked-lady type apps on the store, I doubt it.
I understand, of course, that China is a market that no PC maker can shun, particularly as the recession cuts deeply into North American and European sales. But the lack of backbone displayed by some of the major PC makers is, to put it mildly, disappointing.
According to reports in the New York Times, RConversation, and other sites, Sony and Acer rolled over and placed the buggy, intrusive Green Dam censorship software on machines destined for sale in China. But other manufacturers demurred and may well have lobbied behind the scenes, as Internet users in China, software makers, and foreign governments protested openly.
They got results: "Depending on the concrete situation, [they] can pre-install [the program] later," China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement issued through Xinhua, the official news agency.
Rebecca MacKinnon, who has blogged on issues of Chinese censorship for five years, says the move offered an important lesson for the online world. "There's been this impression in the Internet industry that when the Chinese government makes a demand, they have to roll over and play dead. The lesson here is that's not necessarily the case," she says.
The moral victory of the Iranian dissidents and the setback of the Chinese censors was inspiring, while Craigslist's de facto victory may be troubling to those who view prostitution as an evil. But the point remains: Social networking is out of the bottle, and the corporate and political elites will have to come to terms.
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