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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Insight on al.com and Censorship

We noted in a recent post that references to Legal Schnauzer have repeatedly been deleted at al.com's Hoover Forum.

Evidently, I'm not the only one who has experienced this kind of censorship on the al.com forum. Largely because of this censorship, another Hoover Forum has been created. I received the following interesting e-mail from the moderator of that site:

As you may or may not know, your blog has been linked several times on our web site THE Hoover Forum (http://www.hooverforum.com/).

The most recent version of your blog talks about being censored on al.com.

Shortly after our launch in July 2007, THE Hoover Forum was also censored on al.com's forums and all references to it removed. If an al.com forum poster typed out hooverforum.com and submitted the post, the word filter on al.com would reply "OOPS! Your post was rejected because it contained inappropriate language," and the words hooverforum.com would have to be deleted before the poster could proceed.

We have attributed this action to come from al.com's Ken Booth. As you may know, al.com not only streams the Hoover High School football games on their site, but they are also a sponsor of the Hoover football booster club (hooverbuc.com). Since many of our members have posted things that are not complimentary (although truthful) about the coaching staff, al.com has taken issue with this and has censored us.

The entire reason for our forum's existence is because al.com chose to censor posts regarding Hoover High School football, which we felt trampled on Hoover residents' right to exercise their freedom-of-speech rights.

Al.com, Mr. Booth, and the publishers of The Birmingham News are within their rights as a private business to publish and not publish what they want. They are not, however, doing the residents of Alabama a favor as a newspaper to censor certain viewpoints. One of my favorite articles regarding the responsibilities of a newspaper is the following:

"Social Responsibilities of the Newspaper." I won't quote the entire article to you, just the first two paragraphs:

"The press is a quasi-public agency because the founders of its freedom created it for the public purpose--as a substitute for revolution. It is an instrument for democracy to produce reform by methods of peace instead of force.

"The press has even greater social responsibilities than the President, the Congress, or the Judiciary. They are servants of the people to exercise certain rights which the people have entrusted to government. The press, however, is the special servant of the people in that great estate in which the people have reserved to themselves other rights which, by long experience, they have found it foolhardy to surrender to any government--an estate which governments try hard to invade. And in every case in which government invasion has been accomplished, an impotent press has given up the ghost before the people themselves have succumbed."

You may read the entire article here.

Sad that The Birmingham News and al.com don't live up to their end.


THE Hoover Forum



Garry said...

6 months later I invite you to this article on "Watch for Snakes 'n Scottsboro" concerning al.com Forum Censorship: http://arklite.blogspot.com/2008/05/more-alcom-censorship-and-democrat.html

Dave Krueger said...

I've been an occasional poster on the al.com forums for years. One learns very quickly that they are, by far, one of the most restrictive message boards on the net, deleting something like a quarter of all new topics. Their authoritarian censorship policies have insulted virtually everyone who posts there so they have only a few die-hard regular participants. If AL.COM was a country, it would be North Korea.

Of course, the hostility of the institutional media to the opinions of ordinary people is nothing new. No mainstream news outlet goes for more than a day without blasting the "blogosphere", youtube, myspace, or some other popular web-based vehicle of mass expression. They are starting to see them as a threat, as well they should, but they don't have any counter strategy yet, so they arrogantly choose to stand on the beach and shout down the approaching tsunami as if they're convinced the future takes orders from them.

All traditional media, AL.COM included, have very little regard for generalized free speech. They have so long considered themselves the sole voice of the public that exercising unrestricted editorial control over all published thought is second nature. And, like any massive bureaucracy, they respond to change only after their very existence is called into question.

Deb Murphree/Alabama Politics said...

I'd like to invite you to my website, as well, concerning al.com and Ken Booth. I have several postings concerning al.com, and it has been very enlightening. In fact, Advance Publications, who owns al.com from New York, and New Jersey, have visited my website on numerous occasions, to view my postings on al.com's Ken Booth.

Karen said...

I have posted on al.com for a short time only. I tried to follow all the rules but because of my political views I was banned every 2 or 3 day. Other posts with vulgar and personal attacks were never banned. I know for a fact that al.com censors for political reasons.

Anonymous said...

I was just "tazed" by Ken Booth. I am a non-profit who posted a request for volunteers in more than one forum. I got a reply that stated not to post the same message in multiple forums. So, I returned and edited my message and began posting until I got the message telling me to come back later to post again, so I did. To me, I was following directions. I was banned! And, after several emails requesting an explanation or to review my account, nothing! I can actually live with that, but I wanted an explanation, because I felt confident that there could have been a mistake. I was not spamming and my message was very professional. Furthermore, those who did see it and replied were very thankful. High school students have a hard time getting the volunteer hours they need to get into some colleges.

Cindy Martin was very kind and forwarded my message to Ken Booth. Here is his reply.

Your original posts were removed because it is a violation of our terms to post the same message across multiple forums. We do consider that to be spam. Whether it's for a good cause or not, we can't allow the forums to be used in that manner or they will be overrun with advertising. The account would have been removed because of the repeat violation.

Unfortunately due to the extremely large volume of traffic our forums receive our forum management team simply does not have the time to craft tailored responses to every inquiry that comes in. So they do tend to send out stock responses to a lot of feedback.

Feel free to create a new account, but do restrain from posting the same message in multiple forums.


Number one, you don't ban someone without telling them you are going to do it, OR telling them why. Second of all, if your site relies on users, at least reply to their emails. Many of these, including myself, are upstanding respectable citizens on the PTA and key decision makers at major companies. Not only have you offended a person, but you've possibly cost your company $$$$$$ of advertising revenue for several years down the road.

This man needs to go. He has no regard for ethical or even professional business practices.

Anonymous said...

They censor their politics forum as well ... dems not welcomee.