On September 16th, 2011, the night before the beginning of the Occupy Wall Street movement Protests, I was trying to send an e-mail out to various contacts about the event. However, after hitting send, I received the following error message:
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.
I repeatedly tried to resend the e-mail, but never thought twice about the fact that this message may have popped up due to the actual content of the e-mail. After all, we live in a society where freedom of speech is a constitutional right… In my naïveté, I spent about an hour ‘chatting’ with Yahoo! Mail help/support who were totally unhelpful, did not fix the problem, and took over a week to reply back to me regarding my issue. They basically told me there was nothing they could do about it. I tried to send the e-mail again the following day, and was blocked once more, although other e-mails with no mention of the Occupy Wall Street movement were sending fine.
Now, almost a week later, independent and major news outlets (Bloomberg Businessweek & Huffington Post among others– just do a quick google search) are reporting that somehow Yahoo’s spam filters were set to block all e-mails containing any keywords related to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Yahoo’s official explanation for the ‘interruption of service’ is as follows:
“Unfortunately, the domain ‘occupywallst.org’ was being caught by one of our spam filters when some users tried to send messages containing it. This was a false positive which we corrected on Monday. However, there was a residual delay (up to 24 hours) for users trying to send e-mails with that phrase.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy it for a second.
Yahoo! has a terrible track record with protecting users and is often criticized by international human rights organizations for its co-operation with the Chinese government.
Reader Supported News comments on the recent state-side censorship and the company’s history with China:
“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.” (http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-news-section/68-68/7517-yahoo-admits-to-blocking-wall-street-protest-emails)
More detailed information on Yahoo’s less-then-commendable relationship with the Chinese government can be found here:
It is highly suspect that Yahoo! just happened to censor e-mails on a domestic protests aimed at spreading the Arab Spring spirit across the Atlantic. As governments around the world watched seemingly untouchable political regimes and dictators fall within mere weeks, there was undoubtedly measures and strategies taken by high-level government officials to anticipate and deal with potential domestic uprisings.
The link between social media / e-mail platforms and the success of those uprisings has been well noted in the media and (I guarantee) by your country’s government. It does not take a genius to figure out that some serious collusion is going on here. To be honest, this does not come as much of a surprise. However, I am angered enough to write this article in the hopes of spreading this news as far and wide as possible.
I for one, am not going to let them try and sweep this under the rug. This is a serious, intentional breach of public trust and 1st amendment rights and they should be held accountable for their actions. In light of all the recent scandals going on around the world and especially with news/media outlets (read: Murdoch’s News of the World scandal), it is not a big jump to assume this was and is an intentional conspiracy on the part of Yahoo! to block the spread of information regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement.
In fact, has anyone noticed just how little coverage the Occupy Wall Street movement protests have gotten from mainstream media sources? Well, yes actually. Keith Olbermann did:
Keith Olbermann asks “Why so Little Coverage of the Occupy Wall Street Protests?
Considering that the mainstream media has conveniently ignored this protest that is now in its 7th day immediately adjacent to one of the most highly visible areas on the entire planet (the protests are taking place on Wall Street, right next to the New York Stock Exchange), it is not that big of a jump to assume that censoring e-mails spreading the word about the under reported and potentially revolutionary protests might also be part of a media/government news blackout strategy. Just call it an educated hunch…
If we do not speak out against Yahoo’s actions and demand an independent investigation to exactly what happened, these types of actions will be considered successful via ‘silent vote’. This so-called ‘error’ on Yahoo’s behalf is much more than that. It is quite simply a ‘test of the waters’ to see what can be gotten away with.
Show Yahoo! that the waters are indeed treacherous and that this type of behavior will not be taken lightly!
I am hereby calling for an investigation into the matter by all journalists and seekers of truth. What did they know? When did they know it? As the famous quote from All The Presidents Men goes, “Follow the money…”
Spread the word. Knowledge is power.
+ Truth +