Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reply to Comment from Walkfly

Walkfly left a comment on the Introduction page. Its an argument I frequently hear so I thought it would be worthwhile to post the comment in its entirety and my response. The original comment is in normal font prefaced by WF: and my reply is in italics prefaced by RDB:.

WF: I just want you all to know... you don't have guaranteed freedom of speech on any website. If you look in the Constitution, it clearly states that CONGRESS shall pass no law barring the freedom of speech.

RDB: I don't think I've every stated that Huffpo is violating my first amendment rights. Of course they have a right to moderate. I've never denied that. On the contrary if you look at various posts such as the discussion on Crooks and Liars you will see that I absolutely acknowledge and support their right to moderate. I don't want to see spam or personal attacks or comments that are totally irrelevant. My criticism is not THAT they censor. Its THE WAY they censor. That they censor comments that show errors by their bloggers. Or that take political views too outside the main stream. Or that are arbitrarily censored because their AI moderation system erroneously censors them even though they are perfectly in line with the moderation policies.

WF: That doesn't mean a communication firm/website won't. Huffington Post has every right to censor their own boards if they want to create a clean and respectable environment for their posts. I suggest your read their Terms of Services Agreement before complaining.

RDB: I have read their Services Agreement and that is why I have this blog. They routinely censor posts that are clearly acceptable by their published standards.

WF: Besides... are expletives really necessary for discussion and comment?

RDB: I completely agree. I almost never use expletives and if the only posts that were censored were ones with expletives I would have no problem.

WF: I'm not saying it's a good thing, but it's pointless to be upset about it -- they're a media outlet and they have their own agenda. If you want to speak out, speak out (on your own site), which is clearly what this whole thing's about.

RDB: I am speaking out on my own site. The reason this is important to me is that I've been a Huffpo user since the beginning and it bothers me that what was once a great site is being corrupted by the corporate mind set.

WF: This is why the net neutrality debate is so scary: If we allow an oligarchy of corporations to control the wireless web (which is the total future of the web), then we will essentially be allowing them not only ban certain content, but paint the picture of truth as the mobile majority sees it. This is Orwellian. Outrageous.

RDB: I agree losing Net Neutrality is scary. I think what is happening on Huffpo is an example of what will happen on the entire Internet times 1000 without Net Neutrality. So we are making an attempt to fight it now, to fight the corporatization of the Internet, while we still have a chance. You seem to agree with that sentiment so why don't you join us?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Radical Secularist

Here is an excellent blog entry from The Radical Secularist. As you can see he has also run into some of the most outrageous censors on Huffpo: Chopra and Lanza.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Avada Kedavra -- Huffpo Kills a Harmless Comment

The following is from Huffpo User Hermione Granger:

Here is an amazing example. There is an article on Huffpo about how Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell admitted on Bill Mahr's old Politically Incorrect program that she dabbled with witchcraft. I thought the following comment might be kind of amusing given my Huffpo user ID (well at least amusing to my fellow Harry Potter fanatics). I never imagined this could be censored. I typed it in twice just to make sure and both times it never appeared:

I knew she looked familiar. I saw her on a date with Malfoy, or come to think of it perhaps it was Luna Lovegood, which would raise possibilities that would freak her supporters out even more than witchcraft.

Lest you think its just the suggestion that she might be a Lesbian, there were many comments that came right out and said she was. I honestly can't imagine why this comment was never published. The only thing I can think of is it may be another example of JuLiA detecting sarcasm, which apparently is no longer allowed at the site.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Links to Huffpo Censorship on the Web

The following is a list of some of the many articles, blogs, etc. that discuss censorship on the Huffington Post. Thanks to an anonymous commenter and James Ballard for leaving many of these links in comments on this blog. If you know of more please add them as a comment or send me an email at: Also, please remember to spread the word. Discuss Huffpo censorship and leave links to this blog and the petition at your favorite sites.

* An Alternative Petition against Huffpo Censorship by James Ballard on the Thom Harman blog.

* Discussion of Huffington Post Censorship on

* A very interesting Blog story about the Huffington Post censoring school librarians

* Discussion on about censorship on the Huffington Post

* An article on about how Censorship is Alive and Well on the Huffington Post

* Comment on Crooks and Liars Open Thread about this blog and the petition

* One of my posts on The Daily Kos about Huffpo Censorship

Thanks to another anonymous for more links in the comment below. I made them links up here so you can just click rather than have to copy and paste the URL.

* MuzzledAtTheHuffingtonPost blog Warning: this one is kind of R Rated. Don't link to if you have kids looking over your shoulder or you are easily offended.

* Too Hot to Handle? Censorship at the Huffington Post! Blog entry at about Huffington Post Censorship.

* Huffington Post Sucks... and Digg Doesn't Know it

* Huffington Post Censorship Nazis from the web site America Doomed

* Huffington Post Censorship: Ariana Can't have it Both Ways article on Enviroweb

* Huffington Post Censors Jesse Ventura

* Huffington Post is Afraid of Its Own Readers from ScienceBlog

* Huffington Post Should be Called Censorship Central

* Huffington Post Censors are Big Fat Idiots

* Censorship and The Huffington Post

* I Resigned from the Huffington Post This is an especially interesting one if it is what it seems to be. Its a post from Sander Hicks who is one very cool guy IMO. Publisher, muckraker and punk rocker. He starred in Horns and Halos, a great documentary about James Hatfield the guy who tried to publish a biography on George W. Bush and ended up committing suicide. It is one of my all time cult favorites.

* Blog entry on on Huffington Post Censorship

* Badgefree forum Censorship on The Huffington Post

* Arianna is a Big Dumb Banana Wonderful Blog entry from "a mean old lady with a trashmouth and an attitude"

* The Radical Secularist has several interesting examples and comments on Huffpo Censorship.

* Southern Bubba's Blog

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Perfect Republican

A Huffpo contributor named Jim Garrison caught my eye tonight with an article titled Clinton the "Perfect Republican" With Obama Soon to follow? I must admit because he has the same name as the New Orleans D.A. who tried to investigate the JFK assassination. However, its not the same guy. Not by a long shot. This Jim Garrison had a column asserting that progressives were now regretting that they didn't nominate Hillary Clinton because she would have been such a wonderful progressive president. Yes, he really said that. My reply below was never posted. I suspect it was screened out by the JuLiA software as too emotional or sarcastic:

"Not nominating Hillary was decision we may come to regret for what we believed so passionately about Obama has not come to pass. "

Please give me a break. Are you seriously claiming that Ms. Clinton would have been some glorious progressive? How soon we forget:

As for "what we believed so passionately about Obama" it doesn't matter how passionately you believe something that doesn't make it true. Obama never campaigned as a progressive. He was always honest about being a middle of the road democrat. He has been amazingly consistent for a modern US president in doing what he said he would do. Its not his fault if some progressives had fantasies about what they dreamed he would do.

I wish we could have elected Dennis Kucinich or some other real progressive but I live in the real world. Obama was the best we could hope for and given that he inherited a country broken by 8 years of the most corrupt and incompetent president in history I think he has done an amazing job so far.

But by all means liberals keep on whining and you will get a congress controlled by people who want to force women to have their r@pist's babies and eliminate social security.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

JuLiA -- The Out of Control Bot has a Name

For a long time we've known that The Huffington Post uses an AI system to filter their comments. As far as I can tell, this system screens comments and if a comment doesn't make it past the system it is deleted. We have a few examples of this arbitrary censorship, for example the Out of Control Bot Example. Now thanks to a new member of the group named Kevin I have some information on the technology that Huffpo uses. It is called JuLiA and is a product of a company called Adaptive Semantics.

Here is the really interesting thing. Adaptive Semantics is now owned by a big corporation. The thing that makes mandates. Guess who? Yup, The Huffington Post has purchased Adaptive Semantics.

Now isn't it interesting that nowhere on Huffpo have we ever seen a word about Adaptive Semantics or JuLiA? I just did some searches to make sure and nothing. Allow me to put my tin foil hat for a minute. Doesn't it seem a little ominous that The Huffington Post is utilizing its users as guinea pigs for a new technology that they own and plan to sell to others for controlling dissent on the web? Its funny to read some of the articles on this. People are giddy over the fact that machines can auotomate censorhip. One article on put it this way: "Today's blogger will eventually become tomorrow's dinosaur where content will not only be curated by machines but composed and developed by them. While it may sound like a bleak future, I'm sure there will be more elevated pursuits man will have in managing this 'assembly-line' automated landscape."

Some Thoughts on Censorship from A Huffpo User

Some interesting thoughts on Censorship conveyed via Email by a Huffpo User with some knowledge of the internals at Huffpo:

"Here's the thing, badges are allocated on the basis of merit, merit is judged by numbers. Random or false deletion based on ideology that varies from mod to mod skews these numbers and reduce the integrity of the system in a way that is amplified beyond each single post removed. For example: pundit badges are allocated on the basis of replies, deleting a post can affect this not only for the poster but for other posters who converse in the thread leading to a sort of silent censorship."

Silent or Badge censorship is the fifth kind of censorship. Those conforming to whatever strangely mutated guidelines result from a combination of miscreant bots, moderation problems and flags gone wild due to the number of alts/socks are given a higher degree of input and interactivity than others.

The pundit badge is particularly bad in this regard. Based on the number of replies to posts it allows the user to rack up incredible amounts of replies that are not deleted ensuring a sort of incumbent advantage over other speakers. It also rewards trollery as folks tend to respond to blatant falsities with corrections more often than to factual posts with affirmations.

The bots are a nuisance I think this is due more to the management style of Arianna than anything else I have been around her online ventures for years and don't believe she's evil. I think she is very well intentioned but sort of ditzy and more a starter than a finisher. Her choice of staff at times is spot on, at other times lacking and I think the IT guys have sold her a bill of goods.

I'm wondering if the moderation problems (HP mods not community mods) stems from lack of oversight and maybe some sort of quota system, perhaps unofficial where mods are expected to show some work for their time. There may be a hint to this sort of policy in the badge FAQ where they urge users to "step up their flagging game" to earn a higher level badge. The lack of oversight may result in deletions for ideological reasons by true believers, the randomness may be several mods with differing ideologies and no firm guidelines working simultaneously.

Add the well known problems caused by socks/alts everywhere on the web and you have HP, a really good thing compromised by lack of focus.

I have been around Arianna's online presence throughout all their incarnations and may have an idea or two about how to effect policy change there in a positive manner. I would really like to see the trend of sound bite trollery and rebuttal caused by seemingly random deletions of long well thought out posts reversed an HP live up to it's potential.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tips for Preserving Your Anonymity

I often have discussions with people about how much The Huffington Post does or doesn't know about user identities. One issue that comes up a lot is does the Huffington Post ban you based on your IP address or some other way than your User ID? I came across a very useful little tool regarding IP addresses thanks to Nancy's input and wanted to post it here.

For starters is a very useful site for seeing what your IP address is.

There is also a nice section of the whatismyip site that has advice for how to get a different IP address. Essentially booting your computer and router should do it but you can find more extensive tips here.

Another way Huffpo and other sites can track you is by leaving cookies. Cookies are the way sites store information about you so you don't have to re-enter it every time. If using Firefox you can delete Cookies by going to Firefox>Preferences>Privacy then click on "remove individual cookies". Then type in "" and remove all the cookies from the Huffington Post. You can find and remove them using similar options in other browsers.

1)I don't recommend removing cookies except as a last resort if you want to do everything possible to make sure the Huffington Post can't identify you. If you remove cookies you may have to re-enter things such as connections between your Huffpo and Facebook accounts.

2) In the past I was skeptical that Huffpo would actually ban people based on their IP address but I've come to realize i was wrong. They even say as much in their FAQ section and reports from various users confirm that this is the case. Sorry for doubting you.

3) There was a longer section originally here about using a tool called Tor which I copied from a comment left on this blog. It has been removed at the request of the author.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Iconoclast1's "Scandalous" Comment

Tonight seems to be a busy night for the censors. Here is a comment from Iconoclast1:

I have been banned from commenting on the Huffington Post because of the following scandalous, obscenity-laced (not really, just being sarcastic) post:

"For a little perspective on which political party is better for the stock market and the economy, here are the latest results for returns on the S&P 500 index (and its predecessor, the S&P 90 index) from March 4, 1929 to present:

40 years of Republican administrations - $10,000 grew to $10,506 (a cumulative index gain of 5.1%)
41.5 years of Democratic administrations - $10,000 grew to $412,430 (a cumulative index gain of 4,024.3%)

These figures do not include transaction costs, taxes, or dividends.
Gains under Democrats have been 789 times the index gains under Republicans.

Since Obama became president, the increase in the S&P 500 index to present is 37.2%, which is more than 7 times the increase in the index over the last 40 years of Republican administrations.^GSPC&a=0&b=3&c=1950&d=8&e=5&f=2010&g=d&z=66&y=396

At first, I posted a very similar comment without the links. When that was inexplicably deleted, I posted the version above. That was deleted also. I did this several times on the same thread, posting comments with slightly different wording. Each time it was deleted. I'm not one to back down when I'm right, so I posted similar comments to other relevant threads. By now I was adding warnings to others about the fact that my comment was being repeatedly deleted for reasons unknown.

Of course, I don't know what was going on behind the scenes. I doubt that the first deletion or two was automatic or had anything to do with key words. I suspect that my initial comments were deleted by a community moderator who found the facts in my post too disturbing. Eventually, the initial post was reinstated, but the other versions were not. I suspect that some prima donna on duty as moderator didn't like the sound of my warnings to others. I didn't use the word censorship or any inappropriate language, but I don't think they liked the fact that I kept posting similar comments (none were identical)and warning others about the deletions of unknown origin. I sent an e-mail to complain, but that was 10 or so days ago and I have received no response.

I liked HP because I thought they had a more intelligent group of commenters than, for example, but I never liked the idea of community moderators or, as others have mentioned here, all of the alternate characters people had to use to have their comments post when they wanted to use certain sensitive key words.

I think the lesson is that the moderators don't like anything that smacks of criticism of HP. If they want to effectively put duct tape on your mouth for no reason, then you just have to take it. Or else. When you think about it, that is one of the worst forms of censorship, the silencing of dissent.


Note to Iconoclast1: For some reason the Blogger system thought your comment was Spam. Not sure why. I think its an error in their software. I didn't even turn on Spam detection. But that is why your comment didn't show up for a while. Sorry for the problem... Red Dog

Additional follow up note: I contacted Google and their support guy was a total dick. I told him I wanted to turn the spam filter off and that it wasn't working and... well the details aren't worth going into, I'll just leave it at the Google support guy was a total dick... Red Dog

Up against the Wall

Here is an email from Huffpo user "2706 N8thst". I think he expresses the frustration a lot of us feel. For the record I also love the Jefferson Airplane song and the whole album its from: Volunteers.

Today must have been "ban-everything day" at Hufpo. It started this morning when a troll was commenting on politics, as usual, and I responded saying that I thought this person really wanted to join progressives but was too afraid to let go of their right-wing ties to come over to all the "cool" people at Hufpo, otherwise, why would they bother to comment if they didn't want to be there? There was nothing evil, profane, snarky about it; it was an actual "plea" to jump ship and join the progressive side...but the moderator thought differently.

It was deleted immediately and all other attempts to post, regardless of content never appeared.

I got frustrated and finally wrote something I that I knew would goat the moderator...I said,

"Whomever is moderating, you are not doing your job correctly as you are censoring! We know who you are...and we are who we are, and we are very proud of ourselves...UP AGAINST THE WALL!"

The last line is from a well known Grace Slick protest song called "We should be together" where right before the chorus, she slows down and sings..."everything you say we are, we are, and we are very proud of ourselves" until she screams..."up against the wall, up against the wall mother fu*kers...tear down the wall..." ect.

It probably meant nothing to the moderator (it made me feel good to write it), but whomever was, censorship reigned allowing all kinds of obnoxious comments from the hard right, things like "suck on it dems" ect., vile commentary with no responses allowed. I posted the petition address later in the day as often as possible.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Those Wonderful Huffpo Headlines

Besides censoring user comments another Huffington Post practice is to use outrageously misleading headlines to lure people to read their articles. There was a particularly egregious example this morning in the technology section. An article with the headline Russia Uses Microsoft To Suppress Dissent. To me that headline implies Russia is either using some feature of Microsoft technology or is in some way working with Microsoft the company to suppress dissent. It turns out according to the article that:

one of the authorities' newest tactics for quelling dissent: confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software.

I posted the following comment which never appeared:

Huffpo have you no shame? Come on this headline was outrageous even for you. It implied that Russia was somehow exploiting Microsoft software or teaming with the company to suppress dissent. Would it kill you to have added "as a pretext" or some other clarifying words to the headline?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New Tool for Recording Censored Comments

Several people have emailed me in the past about how to record your comments on the Huffington Post so that you don't loose them if they are censored. I've created a new blog: Huffington Post Free Speech that does this. This blog isn't meant so much to be read. Its more of an archive. Every time I comment on Huffpo I click a box below the comment that says Post to Blogger. When I do that the comment is automatically added to the Free Speech Blog. The good news is that each comment is added to the blog and stays there in full even if it never gets posted on Huffpo or if it is posted and then censored later. I've had examples of each and verified that it works. I've also figured out how to link any other Huffpo user to the Free Speech blog. It is much more convenient then remembering to save your comments to a text file or other source. Just click the box and you have a guaranteed copy of the comment. So far I've done this with one other user but I'm happy to set it up for anyone else. It takes just a few minutes. Please email me at if you are interested.

9/11 -- Huffpo Censors Both Sides of the Debate

Several users in the past have given examples of comments supporting the 9/11 Truth Movement being censored. Here is an opposite example. I replied to the following comment on the article 9/11: 'Flashlight Worthy' Recommends 9 Unforgettable Books About September 11 I was replying to a comment suggesting a book by David Ray Griffith. The following comment was screened out and never appeared:

I read it. I was ready to be convinced. I believe in conspiracies: JFK, MLK, Operation Gladio, Northwoods, I'm a big conspiracy guy. But I also believe in reason and the scientific method. Griffith's book was full of shoddy reasoning. Again and again he points out some fact where the government screwed up and says "this proves that it must have been a conspiracy" He ignores other equally likely theories such as incompetence. He assumes that every time the Government lies it means there is a conspiracy, ignoring that the Bush administration lied just out of habit not to mention to cover their @ss.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't Dump on the Stars -- Even if they like to get dumped on

There was a very positive review of the new Joaquin Phoenix film I'm Still Here by Hellin Kay on Huffpo today. I have to admit that I haven't seen the movie and never will but I like to read reviews, especially reviews that rip bad films. I posted the following comment:

You have got to be kidding me. A movie that consists of a self involved jerk being rude to people, doing drugs, and generally making an @ss of himself? No thanks.

If you read some of the more critical reviews I was being polite compared to the stuff they wrote. I mean I didn't even mention the scene of the guy crapping on Mr. Phoenix's face. Yet this comment was deemed too offensive for The Huffington Post and was deleted.

It was clear that The Huffington Post deleted my comment and not the author of the article because I also found her blog and posted a comment which she allowed to be published.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Petition to The Economist

The following is a Twitter petition for a very worthy cause, similar to the Huffington Post Censorship issue. Please click here to view and sign.

Banned From Huffpo's Greatest Hits

This blog has been up for several months now and we've collected a lot of examples of Huffpo Censorship. Very many for a new reader to slog through them all so I thought I would put some links here to some of the examples that I think are the most interesting. Here they are in chronological order starting from the oldest:

* Introduction. Most have read this already but if not please check it out. I describe the reasons I think this is important and the types of censorship I've seen on the Huffington Post.

* The Mandate is From the Corporation. An interesting email dialogue I had with Huffpo's Senior Moderator.

* The Out of Control Bot Example. One of my favorites. An example showing the ridiculous arbitrary nature of Huffpo's filtering software.

* Ariana's Mandatory cult Meetings. Some very compelling deleted comments by user ScienceFTW regarding Ms. Huffington's interest in new age cults and her pressure on the Huffington Post staff to share that interest. Contains some interesting links to external articles on Huffpo and Ms. Huffington.

* Dr. Lanza Reinvents B.F. Skinner. Robert Lanza is one of the worst when it comes to deleting comments that are polite, on topic but just show him out to be wrong. This one is really blatant. He completely mis-represents the work of B.F. Skinner and deleted a comment that pointed this out.

* 9/11 Censorship. An article about a Jesse Ventura article on 9/11 that was censored from Huffpo.

* Blatant Political Censorship on Wycliff Jean. This example illustrates how The Huffington Post is moving away from the progressive community. A comment that discussed an issue that has been mostly censored in the MSM -- the US sponsored coup that removed Aristide from Haiti -- was censored from an article on Wycliff Jean after being up for over a day.

* Don't Diss the Corporations. Another blatant political example from user WMholt.

* Remembering Hume Sceptic and Carl IV. Huffpo had a nice article remembering two users who passed on. However, in the article they essentially stated that apx. 20% of the comments of one of these users -- who even they complimented as a model polite user -- were censored.

* Censoring sarcasm makes Rob S. Happy! One of the most bizarre examples. The senior moderator at Huffpo: Rob S., describes in an email to a user how happy he is that the Huffpo AI system can detect and delete sarcasm.

* Interesting Input from a Huffpo Blogger. An interesting comment left by an anonymous blogger at Huffpo about their editorial process.

* A6 Intruder. An example of a perfectly reasonable comment from the right that I tried to reply to but that was deleted as I typed.

* James Baldwin can't get passed Huffpo Censorship. A wonderful experiment by IzzyIdol where she simply typed in text from a classic book and Huffpo censored it. Please make sure to read the comments on this article, she provides even more examples.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tales from the Net

Tales from the Net is a blog describing various experiences in social networking. The authors are going to collect these stories into a book. They've expressed some interest in our work here and have a new article describing our blog and petition.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

9/11 Censorship Discussion on C&L

I left a comment on the Crooks and Liars Open Thread last night regarding the Huffington Post petition (I'm MikeD on Crooks and Liars). It started a whole discussion about 9/11 censorship which ironically ended up having the moderator censor many comments. You can see the thread and the spots where comments were deleted by the link above or just click here.

I wanted to also share here my final comment from that thread because I think it gets to an important issue. I'm not at all opposed to some form of moderation at the Huffington Post but rather to the extreme, arbitrary, unexplained censorship currently practiced. Here is that comment:

So I thought it was kind of Ironic that my initial comment about censorship at the Huffington Post resulted in a bunch of comments that got deleted here. But I want to make a point about how that censorship is qualitatively different than what I'm complaining about at Huffpo. The censorship here was based on a clear, public, well defined policy. They don't want to go down the 9/11 Truth Movement rabbit hole at C&L. Now personally, I don't agree with that policy. I think its better to let people talk and air the issues even if it results in huge threads.

But, and here is the big but, I completely respect the right of C&L to make and enforce that decision. What is going on at the Huffington Post is nothing like that. When comments get censored they won't tell you why. The censorship is completely arbitrary. By changing a word here or there that in no way alters the meaning of the comment it can change whether it gets moderated or not. Comments that are perfectly polite and on topic are censored because they point out fundamental errors in the author's article. For example Depak Chopra's understanding of physics or Robert Lanza's representation of his research in psychology. That is the kind of arbitrary pointless censorship we are complaining about.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Petition to the Huffington Post

I've created a petition to send to the Huffington Post on the censorship issue. To see and sign the petition click here.

To sign it fill out the fields on the right side of the page under the yellow banner "Sign the Petition"

If you don't want your contact info shown at the bottom of the petition uncheck (its checked by default) the box that says "Allow my signature to be seen publicly"

The petition is in two parts. A description of the problem at the top and then the Petition Text below. The petition text is a letter that gets sent automatically to the Huffington Post ( every time someone signs. Note: you can edit or completely change the letter that gets sent when you sign so you can make it about any specific free speech issues (gun control, science section, etc.) that you like. Note: if you sign you will receive an automated email reply from the Huffington Post. Its just a form letter that is automatically sent out every time someone sends an email to that mail box.

I encourage people to share that link as much as possible to anyone that might be interested. I can also edit the petition so if you have feedback please email me at: