Wednesday, September 21, 2011

YAHOO Political E Mail Blockage

Targeting Protests

Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, thi again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo. View a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others (click full screen for a better view of the text):

ThinkProgress tried other protest websites, like and, and both messages were sent smoothly. However, emails relating to the protest were blocked with the following message (emphasis added):

Your message was not sent
Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent.
If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for further help.
We apologize for the inconvenience.

ThinkProgress has sent a request for more information to Yahoo, and will post any reply once we have received it with Yahoo’s explanation for its apparent censorship.

It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps.

The Occupy Wall Street protests have continued, but if you own a Yahoo e-mail account, you might not know about it.


We’re continuing to monitor Yahoo’s mail service and have now been able to send messages containing the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” and its website on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.

Yahoo’s customer care Twitter account acknowledges blocking the emails, but says it was an unintentional error:

“We apologize 4 blocking ‘’ It was not intentional & caught by our spam filters. It is resolved, but may be a residual delay.”

Yahoo’s main Twitter account adds:

“Thanks to @YahooMail users & @ThinkProgress for catching problem w/ mail. Prob is fixed, but there may be residual delays.”

Monday, September 12, 2011


Adhering to the government line - disgrace to the internet
Under the censorship of a 17 member supreme council

an intriguing wikipedia entry: statistics
Action Count
Edits 29905
Edits+Deleted 31771
Pages deleted 19264
Pages restored 269
Pages protected 255
Pages unprotected 10
Protections modified 9
Users blocked 915
Users reblocked 36
User rights modified 12
Users created

As the nation marked this terrible anniversary, people invariably turned to Wikipedia to learn about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Nearly two million page views were registered last September for the article “September 11 Attacks,” a typically Wikipedian effort with exhaustive, even picayune, details of the events, bolstered by nearly 289 footnotes. This September, the total page view number could be something like six million.

Likewise, readers have repeatedly turned to the article “9/11 Conspiracy Theories.” The article — similarly detailed with 299 footnotes purporting to explain accusations of faked video footage or controlled demolition of the two buildings — had 400,000 page views last September, and is on pace to have more than a million views this year.

One thing is certain, however. Not one of those visitors got to the conspiracy theories page by making a hypertext leap from a link in the main article about the Sept. 11 attacks. There is simply no mention of these theories, deemed fringe ideas, which have been repeatedly and officially discredited [sic-spin]. They are written up in a variety of articles on Wikipedia, but they are kept on the fringe of the site.

This is no accident, but rather a Wikipedia policy concerning a topic as fraught with emotion [sic spin] as the Sept. 11 attacks. Thus the so-called [sic-spin]gatekeepers of the media world — prominent newspapers, television news programs, newsweeklies — have an unlikely ally in Wikipedia, which bills itself as the encyclopedia anyone can edit.

“Certainly you would get dissent from a lot of our critics that we are responsible,” said Ira Brad Matetsky, a lawyer and member of the arbitration committee that resolves disputes over the editing of articles. But, he added, “one of the reasons that the 9/11 article has been pushed in a fairly conservative direction — and I don’t mean politically — is because so many people are reading this article.”

Over the last 10 years, the site has developed elaborate rules and standards, including creating the arbitration committee, a 17-member supreme court of sorts for Wikipedia.

In 2008, doubters of the official account of the attacks — sometimes called truthers — were told by the arbitration committee not to edit the main page on the attacks after so-called [sic-spin] edit wars over what should be included there. (Mr. Matetsky, as a New Yorker who well remembered the attacks, recused himself.)

Since then, any mention or link to conspiracy theories from the main account has been scrubbed from that article: there is no description of the celebrities who have endorsed the view; no mention of poll results on the subject that show some support among the public; no account, even, of the attraction of conspiracy theories in a time of crisis.

The move has been supported on the discussion pages accompanying the Sept. 11 article, though one Wikipedia contributor, Arthur L. Rubin, a former aerospace engineer who is beginning law school at Western State University in Fullerton, Calif., has been trying to push back.

He does not believe the theories, he said, but says they are part of the Sept. 11 story. “Although the theories are fringe, the fact that there are theories is a mainstream phenomenon,” he said in an interview as he prepared for class. “Even in law school one of the students I was talking to was in the truther side of the matter — it really is a widespread phenomenon.”

His latest unsuccessful effort was to include the conspiracy theories article on the template for Sept. 11, a list of articles on the subject that appears on the bottom of any of those entries. It is a way of packaging Wikipedia’s work on a topic; the prevailing view at Wikipedia is that including the conspiracy theories would make the ideas seem more mainstream.

In response to Mr. Rubin, a commentator on a Wikipedia discussion page, Tom Harrison, wrote: “Like most fringe subjects it has been unduly (and unintentionally, in most cases) promoted, giving readers and maybe search engines an impression of cultural significance that isn’t supported to that extent in reliable sources. I don’t want to Suppress the Truth [sic-spin], I just want to give due weight.”

This consensus on Wikipedia certainly is not what an outsider might expect from a site that prides itself on its free expression views. In the past, Wikipedia editors have reveled in publishing material that others have considered better left unseen.

In the case of the ink blots used in Rorschach tests, complaints that publishing the material would threaten the psychology profession only emboldened the editor who put them there.

The phenomenon even has a name, the Streisand effect, a result of Barbra Streisand’s failed effort to suppress in court an aerial photograph of her home for privacy reasons, which only seemed to stoke interest. The photograph now illustrates Wikipedia’s Streisand Effect article.

Wikipedia, created in the year the Sept. 11 attacks took place, was profoundly shaped by those events. According to the article “History of Wikipedia,” the attacks spurred “breaking news stories on the homepage, as well as information boxes linking related articles.”

A look back at the page from December 2001 about the attacks, including its gray In Memoriam banner, is to be transported to a rawer time — for the United States and Wikipedia. The writing is more emotional than one might expect from a site that now prides itself on a just-the-facts prose style. The article’s opening words describe the events as “what might well be the most devastating terrorist attack in the history of the world.”

The links from that December 2001 entry to other Wikipedia articles also tell a story, especially the ones like Missing Persons, Opportunists.


The current members of the Arbitration Committee are listed below. Arbitrators may be active or inactive. The inactive designation includes members who are on wikibreak, who have not participated in arbitration within the past week, or who have indicated their absence. The following list is accurate as of 29 August 2011:

Active arbitrators

Chase me ladies, I'm the Cavalry (Richard Symonds)
Cool Hand Luke (Frank Bednarz)
Coren (Marc-André Pelletier)
David Fuchs
Elen of the Roads
John Vandenberg
Kirill Lokshin
Mailer diablo (Kenneth Kua)
Newyorkbrad (Ira Brad Matetsky)
Roger Davies

Inactive arbitrators


The Arbitration Committee does not have a chair, but may designate one arbitrator to coordinate timely performance of tasks. The current coordinating arbitrator is Roger Davies, with Kirill Lokshin as his deputy.