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Is That "Sexting" Pic Illegal? A Scientific Test 711

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes " Amid the latest 'sexting' controversy, here is a proposal for a scientifically objective method to determine whether a picture constitutes child pornography. This is a harder problem than it seems, but not for the reasons you'd think. And it raises questions about how the same scientific principles could be applied to other matters of law." Hit the link below to read the sextiest story on Slashdot today.
The Internet

Politicians and the Cyber-Bully Pulpit 392

Regular Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton has cyber-bullying on his mind; that and the laws proposed to deal with it. His article begins: "The authors of most of the recently proposed anti-cyberbullying laws have been invoking the tragic case of Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who committed suicide in 2006 after being harassed online by an adult neighbor posing as a cute 16-year-old boy. Unlike the bluster of politicians grandstanding to outlaw swearing on the Internet, the outrage and frustration of lawmakers in this case is at least understandable, especially after the FBI announced that the family that created the phony profile and caused Megan's suicide could not be charged with any crime. But the focus on Megan's case raises two questions: (a) whether it is fair to invoke Megan in the name of passing the laws, and (b) whether the laws are a good idea in general." Read more below.
The Internet

Hi, I Want To Meet (17.6% of) You! 372

Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton wants to make online dating better. Here's how he wants to do it. "Suppose you're an entrepreneur who wants to break into the online personals business, but you face impossible odds because everybody wants to go where everybody else already is (basically, either or Yahoo Personals). Here is a suggestion that would give you an edge. In a nutshell: Each member lists the criteria for people that they are looking for. Then when people contact them, they choose whether or not to respond. After the system has been keeping track of who contacts you and who you respond to, the site lists your profile in other people's search results along with your criteria-specific response rate: "Lisa has responded to 56% of people who contacted her who meet her criteria." Read on for the rest of his thoughts.

Should We Spam Proxies to China? 282

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton is back with a story about fighting censorship with spam. He starts "Is it OK to send unsolicited e-mail to users in China, Iran, and other censored countries, telling them about new proxy sites for getting around Internet censorship? I hasten to add that I have NOT done this, am not planning on doing it and would not have any idea how to go about it anyway. Between the various companies that offer proxy services, I don't know of anyone who is doing it (no, not even people who swore me to secrecy about it). But I think the question involves ethical issues that would not apply to most discussions of spam." Hit that big link below to read the rest of his words.

Hotmail vs Goodmail 222

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton wrote in with his latest column. He says "Are we being too hard on Goodmail for their plans to charge senders a quarter-penny per message to bypass companies' spam filters? Hardly anyone has mentioned that Microsoft has been doing the same thing for years, only (surprise!) charging more. Hotmail lets senders pay a $1,400 "fee" to help get through their spam filter; when I wrote to them about my newsletter being blocked as spam, they said they knew it wasn't spam, but they told me several times they would not even talk about unblocking it unless I paid the $1,400. It's odd that so little attention has been paid to Hotmail's program, since it not only mirrors the Goodmail situation, it validates Goodmail's critics who have said that once you start charging to bypass spam filters, the next step is the marginalization of people who won't pay." Read on for more words.

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