I have been doing some research into this matter. WordPress prides itself on not censoring due to “offensive content.” Yeah, well, guess what? That ain’t true. I can speak from personal experience as they are threatening to shut my site down right now due to “offensive content.” I am working very hard with them to try not to get suspended but it’s quite a nerve-wracking battle.
Content bans are some of the worst of all. Why? You really don’t know when you are violating them! WordPress says in their TOS that they don’t ban due to content, yet in fact they do. What content is bannable? Well, that’s hard to say, and that’s what I am trying to figure out right now.
I am starting to understand why legal scholars have always said that laws have to be “intelligible.” I may not be using the right word, but what they mean is you have to be able to figure out when you’re breaking the law and when you’re not. When no one is sure whether they are breaking X law, that law is basically unconstitutional. People have to be able to comprehend how to be law-abiding. If they can’t figure out where law abiding ends and crime begins, that’s unconstitutional.
Aside from my rather bizarre case, it does not appear that WordPress bans due to content. However, one blog claimed to be shut down for writing a post about honor killing in Islam. This brings up one of their exceptions, which is only very obliquely mentioned via the TOS (actually the FAQ to the TOS, but never mind). Hate speech is banned on WordPress. I guess obscenity is too, but no one knows what that is. So is libel. You also can’t make threats against people or groups, but I never heard of anyone going down for that one.
Libel is a pretty important one, because they do shut down quite a few blogs for libel and defamation. In some cases, WordPress has made some pretty hazy decisions about that matter. In other cases, it seems to be on the ball. In one case, a fringe scientist made all sorts of libelous accusations against his enemies, stating that they had various medical conditions and criminal records.
These statements were apparently untrue. It’s pretty common for people to do this on the Net. For example, there is an asshole now who is claiming that I am a convicted sex offender from Arizona who is a registered sex offender in my area and who recently attacked cops who came to raid his meth lab in his home.
None of this is true, and it’s all libel. You can even go online and look me up in the sex offender registry. Not only that, but I have an active teaching credential with the state of California (Life Credential). If you have any issues involving sexual stuff and minors, that credential tends to get pulled. In fact, they tend to pull it if you have much of a criminal record at all!
He also says I’m a pedophile. The last is sort of unfalsifiable, but I’m not. I would hope I would be happy if I were a pedophile, but I’m not one, and that’s that. I’m not sure if that’s libelous, as it’s hard to prove I’m not one.
Anyway, if you are on WordPress, watch it with the defamation stuff. Don’t say people did things they never did, have conditions or restrictions or records that they don’t have, etc. That’s libel and WordPress is sort of hardass about it.
Where WordPress really goes berserko is on the issue of using your blog to make money in any way, shape or form. They have like the worst phobia on Earth about this. This is where the advertising ban comes from. I doubt if WordPress cares if we stick ads on our blogs, but once we start doing that, the cow’s out of the barn door and running in the streets and WordPress is full of spammers.
WordPress really, really hates spammers and spamblogs (splogs). That’s understandable. They are a bane. So they are trying to set up a site that is so hardass against spammers and splogs that most get stopped before they even get started.
Why be hardass about this. Well, once you let the splogs in, it tends to really clog up the system. At Blogger, they have serious splog issues with automated systems created splogs by the gadzillions. It gums up the whole works and slows the whole system. WordPress probably figures that in addition to trashing and gumming up the platform, WordPress staff will probably spend most of their time running around deleting splogs which will go back up as soon as you knock them down.
You can’t make money off your blog in any way, shape of form. No ads, period. No linking to commercial sites excessively, especially ones you own or seem to have a relationship with. Nothing spammy or semi-spammy. No SEO or SEO-appearing stuff on blogs.
I think this is why they are so weenie hardass about their blog suspension. WordPress has rules about blog suspension that must have been written by the Devil himself. If your blog goes down, you can’t access it (unlike on Blogger) and WordPress actually steals all of your fucking content and won’t give it back to you!
Well, that’s evil. It’s theft, and it’s also got to be illegal. So WordPress’s TOS has got to be illegal right there. No way can they steal all your intellectual property because you acted bad on their system. But until they get sued by someone who wants their content back, this part of the TOS will not change.
At first I thought WordPress were just evil scum for stealing content like this, but after thinking about it a lot, I think this is due to their rage at the spammers and sploggers. They are so furious at them that they wrote a diabolical suspension policy to super-punish the sploggers. While I do not agree, I empathize.
In addition, WordPress’ TOS says that if they suspend you, you don’t get a refund! So not only due they steal your stuff, they also steal your money too. Two thefts in one so to speak. Again, at first I thought this was just evilness, until I figured out that once again, this is their anti-spammer rage coming through.
Well, no way on fucking Earth is that a legal contract. If I walk into a store, pick up a $100 object, walk to the counter, plunk down $100, does the clerk have a right to grab the object, throw it under the counter, grab the $100, put it in the register and slam the register shut and then order me out of the store? On what basis? Oh, I violated a contract whereby when I walk into the fucking store, I can’t look at him funny.
Do I get to go to a car dealership, plunk down $6000 for a used car, have the salesman grab the $6000, put it in his pocket, say, “Sorry, no car! You violated our contract when you walked in the door!” and then order me out of the building? The contract that says I can’t have blond hair and try to buy a car on Mondays.
Does the cable company have a right to collect a payment for a year’s worth of cable, then shut off my cable after one month due to “contract violation” (I wore the wrong colored shirt when I came into their store) and then refuse me a refund on the other 11 months? Hell no.
Fuck that. You never, never have a right to “refuse to give someone a refund” for a terminated service. Forget it. Only on the Internet. Once again, until they get sued, this illegal aspect of WordPress’ TOS will stay up.
It sounds weird, but the Internet is full of illegal contracts. Everywhere you go on the Net, people are asking you to agree to this or that, and I wager 50% of the agreements on the Net are illegal. When it comes to software “license” agreements, I would say that 100% of those fuckers are illegal.
You wonder why the computer world is full of “libertarian” weenies screaming “No regulation!”? Because they love doing illegal shit and making people sign illegal agreements and contracts, and they don’t want the Evil Big Gubmint coming in and demanding some consumer rights.
Also, WordPress shuts down quite a few blogs for copyright violations. You can’t even link to sites where people stealing copyrighted material. It’s not as big a deal as you think, and most folks stealing copyrighted stuff know full well what they are doing.
Anyway, if you get tired of dealing with all this, there is always this site, set up after someone got suspended from WordPress for linking to copyrighted stuff. They don’t censor for much of anything, period.