Will your blog be censored as "hate speech"? Or as "spam"?

Attempts to censor the blogosphere seem never to stop.

Via Pajamas Media, I read that Gates of Vienna, Atlas Shrugs, and Jihad Watch are all having problems. The latter two report being banned in a number of places. In addition, Atlas Shrugs' Pamela reports a sudden and dramatic Google traffic loss, while Baron Bodissey reports being unable to post anything at his Gates of Vienna, which is being treated as a "spam blog." According to a comment he had to leave in one of yesterday's posts, whenever he tries to publish a post, he gets the following message:

"This blog has been locked by Blogger's spam-prevention robots. You will not be able to publish your posts, but you will be able to save them as drafts."
While I don't know, I'm wondering whether there might have been a concerted effort to flag Gates of Vienna as spam. If so, because of the automated nature of the process, this might result in blocking. "Blogger Help" explains why:
When a person visiting a blog clicks the "Flag?" button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal. We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds? It's sort of like that.
If it's a concerted, deliberate effort to target a blog, it's not "sort of like that" at all.

I'm glad I'm with HostMatters and on MovableType, because this Blogger stuff looks ominous. M. Simon left a comment to the Gates of Vienna post advising that this URL is the only way to contact Blogger. Using his instructions I left the following message:

Gates of Vienna is not a spam blog, and yet it is being treated that way, and the author is complaining that he is still unable to write posts. I am worried that blogspot blogs are being falsely flagged as spam blogs and that this could happen to my blogs.

Are my concerns misplaced?

I think it's a good question, and I hope they answer.

UPDATE (2:32 p.m.): Gates of Vienna is working now, with Baron Bodissey saying this:

Dymphna and I were cut off from posting for about eighteen hours, having been designated a "spam blog" by the Powers That Be.

We were unable to consult the Oracles, but someone else must have done so on our behalf, because we have just been released.

This may have been the result of a deliberate malicious action. A disgruntled reader or troll probably notified Blogger that we were a spam site.

There's more, and apparently, a single determined troll can convince Blogger.com that a valid blog is a spam blog.

I'd love to hear an explanation from someone at Blogger/Google.

posted by Eric on 07.18.07 at 10:27 AM










Comments

Blogger has been full of annoying tics ever since Google bought it. My blog was flagged for spam once but I didn't think too much about it--I maintain some spreadsheets on it for a stock trading group and I assumed it tripped some anti-spambot. Blogger sent me an email warning with instructions on how to object. They restored the site about 1 day after I objected.

The explanation for Gates of Vienna is undoubtedly more sinister--no similar mistake is possible.

tim maguire   ·  July 18, 2007 4:09 PM

Blogger made no attempt to verify the complaint. None what so ever. If they had, Gates of Vienna would never have been declared a spam blog. Certainly not by any competent adult.

I've blogged on it, and I urge others to blog about it. Blogger is complicit in libel. That's what it comes down to, and it's time Blogger stopped. Open the lines of communication and start checking out claims of misdeeds on the part of Blogger hosted blogs.

Alan Kellogg   ·  July 18, 2007 5:41 PM

Terrorists supporting "Rev." Jim Sutter has been on a campaign to shut down what he consider hate sites he and his buddies have been writing exposes', articles, letters, emails and complaints to shit down sites he doesn't approve of. He wants to Getting ISPs to ban access to hate sites (the "Sutter" definition of hate) he wants Microsoft to block access to these sites to anyone using Internet Explorer and finally indictments, for what I'm not sure

http://exposingsutter.blogspot.com/2007/07/did-pseudo-rev-help-flag-anti-jihad.html

Lady Predator   ·  July 20, 2007 1:50 PM

Lady Predator is just angry because her own prolific hate speech was exposed, and some time afterwards, Blogger blocked her access to the forgery-filled site she put up. Now she's trying to mirror it all over the web.

For those who question how far their free speech rights go, I'd recommend reading Free. Speech vs. Hate Speech at http://hatewatchhallofshame.blogspot.com

I didn't write the laws, I'm only reporting on them. I'll be posting much more on this subject soon, including a rather lengthy list of sites that have been banned, blocked or filtered in a number of countries, including the US, including how and why they were blocked.

Jim Sutter   ·  July 25, 2007 10:20 AM

Thanks for visiting, Rev. Sutter. Under our First Amendment, free speech includes the right to express hatred of anything or anyone, in whatever manner the speaker might choose so long as there's no immediate advocacy of violence or criminal conduct.

While it's clear that the government here may not restrict speech because it is deemed hateful, it strikes me that those who would restrict speech on the basis that it contains "hate" are in fact hating constitutionally protected free speech. Isn't hating someone's exercise of his First Amendment rights just as hateful as hating his religion or nationality?

Is some hate good, and other hate bad?

Eric Scheie   ·  July 25, 2007 11:18 AM

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