Twitter blocked #occupywallst from trending; people switched to #takewallstreet and it was trending again.
I don't see any really good reason to think of yahoo or internet in the USA as some bastion of freedom; especially when it can be 'blocked' by such murky means as a spam filter (plausible deniability allows people to act out just a bit more).
Our government has shown again and again that it is willing to tap all our means of communication (to the point of potential constitutional infringement) and mega corps have been generally willing participants.
To dismiss some phrase or website being manually dropped into a spam filter as an outrageous conspiracy theory makes me wonder if I am insane; because it's my perception these mega corps, banks, and government agencies will go to whatever extreme they can get away with; rather than up to some arbitrary point of what is 'right or wrong'; and this certainly seems like something they can get away with.
My guess is that Y! uses some somewhat dodgy external providers of spam/content filtering. Historically, external providers that block inappropriate sites have considered such lists to be their proprietary information, but when those lists have been revealed, they tend to have a pretty heavy political agenda.
Peacefire has some reports that detail this:
(So, I think the reason for the Y! block was likely an unaccountable third-party, but I think the Twitter block is pretty odd.)
Yahoo! and Twitter care enough about between 200-5,000 protestors marching on Wall Street to commit acts of censorship? Why? What does this accomplish for these companies? They're protecting the tight-knit oligarchy which they are a part of?
I'm struggling to see why this would even be on Yahoo!'s radar.
Some New York government official phones up his old Harvard buddy at Yahoo and asks him for help in avoiding civil unrest and an outbreak of violence. In exchange he promises undying love and future favors. The Yahoo guy realizes he has plausible deniability and so is happy to indulge.
How do you climb the status ladder in America? You do favors for powerful people.
Who wants to avoid the scary possibility of a massive viral wall street protest that inspires the nation to rise up? Lots of powerful people.
Powerful people are by definition capable of getting shit done and influencing others. This is why the cookie crumbles in their favor so often.
If there's a conspiracy, it's an ops guy showing off to an oligarch friend. I don't see how any member of a thigh-knit oligarchy could get this done without leaving a trail that could get him fired for cause and publicly humiliated.
VP of whatever says, "Nerdbro please add these domains to the filter before noon. An angry advertiser wants immediate action on this before closing a big deal. By the way I've recommended you to the division head for that position. Thanks for helping me out on this."
In the corporate world almost everything that happens has it's genesis in an exchange like this. If you need a citation: Robert B. Cialdini
Awhile later there is some PR consequence to this decision. Some PR guy in yahoo goes to ops and asks what happened.
Immediate answer: "they were mistakenly added to the spam filter."
"how did thus mistake happen?"
"its technical; and anyway I'm not authorized to reveal the workings of the filter because hackers/spammers want to know how it works. "
PR guy: "say no more. I understand. I'll make sure to let the public know it was an accident"
Occam's Razor (not to mention Hanlon's Razor) suggest the issue is not deliberate.
If you want to silence emails in email provider Y about subject X, you send email to many accounts of Y about X. Then you have the accounts report the messages as spam. Now every email to an account of Y about X goes into the spam folder...
"It was inadvertent, and we're working to fix the problem".
And by the time the problem is fixed, the damage has been done and the desired censorship in this case has been achieved.
It's the classic agency costs argument. I'm actually rather sad that we tend to jump on the company, forgetting that it's individuals that make these things happen.
The problem is, most of the time any IT-related issue rears its ugly head, the problem is caused by incompetence and not by malice.
Given the usual bugs, don't you think that a system like this would catch enough false positives that people would notice? Unless... they're censoring such complaints as well! ;-)
It's "dual use" technology.
Also not to be overlooked, Yahoo knows that the pain involved in migrating one's email address is enough to retain all but the most idealistic of customers.
You can justify pretty much any crazy theory with that sort of wonky logic.
I expect this hypocrisy will eventually be dropped. Though people expecting the better of the two standards to win out are... rather optimistic.
There's the question of how the url got on the spam filter blacklist, but it could easily have been an automated process.
Plenty of startups have issues with their invites getting marked as spam. Doesn't mean it's a conspiracy.
Personally this seems fishy to me. Moreso since it is comming from Yahoo.
A spam filter should not act when a hot topic is `trending' -- being send around from multiple accounts mostly to accounts related to them (with existing history of communication).
A spam filter acting on mere global volume of a keyword is a prime example of solution more troublesome than the original problem itself.
its a known fact that older accounts get more spam than newer ones. And who knows what services you have signed up before with your yahoo account that you didn't with your Gmail.
But my Yahoo account spam filtering appears to get suffer roughly as many false positives as false negatives which actually makes it worthless.
At least this time the headline doesn't says "blocked" instead of "censored", but still, it's not like this was a willful malicious act. An automated system hit a (debatably) false positive. Happens every day. Isn't a headline.
I bet it's just the machines' way of getting back at us for CAPTCHAs.