AOL Censors Free Speech
I was trying to tell a friend about http://www.BushIn30Seconds.org, a site airing commercials summarizing what the filmmakers think is wrong with current administration policies. My message to my friend at AOL bounced with the message:
(reason: 554 TRANSACTION FAILED: (HVU:B1) The URL contained in your email to AOL members has generated a high volume of complaints.??)
In this particular case, it’s hard to imagine who would complain about it other than people trying to get the page banned because it doesn’t agree with their political views.
This means that if a group wants to suppress access to and discussion about web sites that present opposing points of view, they need only complain to AOL and AOL will no longer deliver messages to any AOL subscriber that contain a mention of that web site.
This may be motivated by a desire to cut down on spam, but it’s doing it in a way that can be used to censor a site, and then make discussion about that censorship impossible!
I suspect if we complain to AOL management, they’ll simply say, “We didn’t intend to censor the site. It was just our spam filtering.” So rather than complaining to AOL about their policy, complain about CNN.COM, NYTIMES.COM, and MICROSOFT.COM. Once enough complaints get registered, those sites will be added to the blackout lists and maybe AOL will rethink their policy.