September 21, 2007

Debunking - IS NOT Being Censored by AOL and Hotmail

I've seen this story making the rounds. However, IS NOT Being Censored by AOL and Hotmail:

1. If two large ISPs independently begin blocking mail from a given domain/IP address/network block/etc., then it's usually a pretty good sign that there is an issue with the mail source.

This this another "I'm-Being-Censored" wolf-cry, where people's buttons are pushed and their paranoia is stoked. This part was particularly manipulative: "Further, the Microsoft-Hotmail administrators inform us that they are blocking our communications to Truthout subscribers on their systems due to what they describe as our "reputation."

The word "reputation" there is a term of art meaning "spamminess", not anything political. Truthout was essentially told their messages looked like spam, but they then sent out an alert portraying it as if they were being told they were dangerous radicals.

And as usual, the accurate technical information is going to languish in obscure blog posting and expert mailing lists, while the demagogic attention-machine cranks on.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in spam | on September 21, 2007 01:17 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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I saw this story earlier today. While I do go to truthout, I was not a subscriber. So I set up a Hotmail account, subscribed to truthout's newsletter, and immediately received the confirmation email from truthout. No blockage whatsoever.

In reading the comments from readers, there were claims that even emails that had the phrase "" somewhere in the mail -- for example, I send you a mail and say "please read this article from" -- were also being blocked. I tested this as well several times from several email accounts, both sending to and receiving from the new Hotmail account. It worked perfectly fine every time.

I even clicked on the "email this story link" in a truthout story and sent it to the hotmail account. This, of course, worked fine as well.

Truthout's credibility took a serious hit last year with Jason Leopold's reporting on Karl Rove. It seems they are about to take another. As someone who has seen the Microsoft legal team from the inside, I'd hate to think what they'll do to Marc Ash and if these claims aren't removed and an apology issued.


Posted by: Ernie Shelton at September 22, 2007 07:25 PM

Thanks for the info. Though I doubt this would escalate to a lawsuit. It's just another example of the attention-imperative :-(.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 25, 2007 05:37 PM

Thanks for posting on this, Seth. I'd gotten the "memo" on Truthout being censored, and I wondered. And, yes, those services will grab things for "spamminess"--as much as they'll let thru all those offers for baby bulldogs from Nigeria. Maybe Truthout needs an email marketing lesson on how to not be spammy (or they should attach a puppy picture.)

Posted by: Tish Grier at September 25, 2007 10:31 PM

Tish, they'd probably use the puppy for an ad along the lines of "read us or the dog gets killed!" :-).

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at September 27, 2007 09:17 AM