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Making A Murderer update and what it says about how we digest info today

The 10-hour Netflix documentary, “Making A Murderer” has viewers flocking to the web to opine, petition, and mock. Here’s where things are today.



How we now digest entertainment and social simultaneously

Watching a movie at home with my family over the holidays reminds me of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). A minute won’t pass without a parent commenting on who the actor is onscreen, their previous roles, and sometimes even the actor’s relationship status. The irony is that as a film critic, I usually know the answer, but want to stay immersed in the story at hand. “Google it!” is the typical response, as everyone is usually also on their phone viewing Facebook status updates, cat memes, and videos.

This personal anecdote exemplifies how technology and social media have drastically changed not only where we seek out facts, but also how we digest and process entertainment nowadays. Technology has also changed social action immensely.

Whereas historically, a written petition or public rally might gather only hundreds of people in a concentrated area, the Internet provides a forum not only to mobilize supporters but to bring international attention to social events.

A prime example is of the Twitter Revolution in Egypt in 2011, when the hashtag #Jan25th was used to encourage Egyptians to join the demonstration at Tahir Square, and also allowed those of us far away to follow live via Twitter and uStream channels. Furthermore, social media was used to form and strengthen movements and volunteer organizations, with several of the most vocal and visible participants during the time were encouraged to take on leadership roles.

“Making A Murderer” viewers flock to the web

Concerned viewers of “Making a Murderer” have now moved beyond A petition that has garnered much attention was posted on December 20, 2015, on We The People, the White House online petition platform. With a total of 129,950 signatures, the petition to pardon the defendants of the associated convictions met the guidelines for a response from the Obama Administration. To qualify for a response, a petition that is posted on the site must receive at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days.

Unfortunately, the response will not please all signatories. According to the response, because they “are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them. A pardon in this case would need to be issued at the state level by the appropriate authorities.”

Of interest is that the response lists actions taken by the Obama Administration to “enhance the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system at all phases”, including his 2014 Executive Order creating a Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The intent of the Task Force and its final report was to “place new strategies to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve while enhancing public safety.” A

nyone who has watched episodes of “Making a Murderer” can recognize the relevance of this action to one of the central themes of the series.

Meanwhile a petition to both President Obama and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has over 365,000 supporters as of January 8, 2016. The petition calls for a pardon as well as accountability for the Manitowoc County officials allegedly involved in “two false imprisonments” for the series central subject. Governor Walker who took office in 2011 has stated that he will not grant any pardons during his term.

According to this January 2014 article by Bill Lueders: “Gov. Walker supports the court system and does not want to undermine the actions of a judge or jury,” spokeswoman Julie Lund said in an email. He has other priorities besides issuing pardons, which “is not a requirement of the job.”

Controversy continues to brew

Controversy continues to develop around “Making a Murderer”, with filmmakers revealing on the TODAY show that a juror stated to them that he or she believed their subject was framed for the crime by law enforcement.

“(The juror) told us that they believe Steven Avery was not proven guilty,” Ricciardi said. “They believe Steven was framed by law enforcement and that he deserves a new trial, and if he receives a new trial, in their opinion it should take place far away from Wisconsin.”

Demos further stated that “They told us really that they were afraid that if they held out for a mistrial that it would be easy to identify which juror had done that and that they were fearful for their own safety.”

However, the filmmakers have not corroborated the story as “they have not spoken with any of other jurors” according to TODAY. The filmmakers did state that the juror would be willing to serve as a source.

Just this week, the film’s producers confirmed that “of course” they left out evidence, calling it irrelevant and reiterating their goal of exploring the justice system.

Finally, according to various sources including IGN Entertainment Editor Terri Schwartz it was just announced by Investigation Discovery at the Television Critics Association winter press tour that the network is focusing on a new special about Avery.

“We feel compelled to address what we believe are some critical details missing from the Netflix production … in an attempt to provide critical, crucial evidence and testimonies that answer many of the questions surrounding Steven Avery,” said ID group president Henry Schleiff. Production began earlier this week on “Front Page: The Steven Avery Story,” which is hosted by Dateline NBC correspondent Keith Morrison and will air later this month.

Armchair detectives and online supporters should be pleased with this increased television and media coverage on the controversial story behind “Making of a Murderer” in their desire for justice as well as entertainment.


Debbie Cerda is a seasoned writer and consultant, running Debra Cerda Consulting as well as handling business development at data-driven app development company, Blue Treble Solutions. She's a proud and active member of Austin Film Critics Association and the American Homebrewers Association, and Outreach Director for science fiction film festival, Other Worlds Austin. She has been very involved in the tech scene in Austin for over 15 years, so whether you meet her at Sundance Film Festival, SXSWi, Austin Women in Technology, or BASHH, she'll have a connection or idea to help you achieve business success. At the very least, she can recommend a film to watch and a great local craft beer to drink.

Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.



Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Social Media

Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.



Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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Social Media

Brace yourselves: Facebook has re-opened political advertising space

(SOCIAL MEDIA) After a break due to misinformation in the past election, Facebook is once again allowing political advertising slots on their platform – with some caveats.



Facebook open on phone in a wallet case, open for political advertising again.

After a months-long ban on political ads due to misinformation and other inappropriate behavior following the election in November, Facebook is planning to resume providing space for political advertising.

Starting on Thursday, March 4th, advertisers were able to buy spots for ads that comprise politics, what Facebook categorizes as “social issues”, and other potentially charged topics previously prohibited by the social media platform.

The history of the ban is complicated, and its existence was predicated on a profound distrust between political parties and mainstream news. In the wake of the 2016 election and illicit advertising activity that muddied the proverbial waters, Facebook had what some would view as a clear moral obligation to prevent similar sediment from clouding future elections.

Facebook delivered on that obligation by removing political advertising from their platform prior to Election Day, a decision that would stand fast in the tumultuous months to follow. And, while Facebook did temporarily suspend the ban in Georgia during the senate proceedings, political advertisements nevertheless remained absent from the platform in large until last week.

The removal of the ban does have some accompanying caveats—namely the identification process. Unlike before, advertisers will have to go to great lengths to confirm their identities prior to launching ads. Those ads will most likely also need to come from domestic agencies given Facebook’s diligent removal of foreign and malicious campaigns in the prior years.

The moral debate regarding social media advertising—particularly on Facebook—is a deeply nuanced and divided one. Some argue that, by removing political advertising across the board, Facebook has simply limited access for “good actors” and cleared the way for illegitimate claims.

Facebook’s response to this is simply that they didn’t understand fully the role ads would play in the electoral process, and that allowing those ads back will allow them to learn more going forward.

Either way, political advertising spots are now open on Facebook, and the overall public perception seems controversial enough to warrant keeping an eye on the progression of this decision. It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for Facebook to revoke access to these advertisements again—or limit further their range and scope—in the coming months and years.

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