Is Automattic Succumbing to Multicultural Pressure?


John R. Houk

© May 16, 2019

 

Thanks to a Counter Jihad Coalition email update I have discovered WordPress.com (i.e. the one operated by Automattic) has deplatformed a couple of expose Islam blogs. The CJC update links to a Jihad Watch post writing about the deplatforming. The exposé blogs were Creeping Sharia and Muslim Statistics.

The Jihad Watch writer assumes the deplatforming was the result of the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan complaining. At the very least pointing to Pakistan is a good guess. On my NCCR blog I have received the same Automattic notification.

 

My experience though was informing me my particular blog would no longer be available in Pakistan due to the legal system’s Blasphemy Law. BUT the Automattic notification also included info for how Pakistani readers could circumvent the Pakistan banning by finding a good VPN service that hides Internet surfing. Here is that NCCR post with the notification and advice.

 

So I am a bit surprised Automattic deplatformed Creeping Sharia and Muslim Statistics over Pakistan’s Free Speech robbing Blasphemy Laws. On the other hand, what in the world could those two expose Islam blogs have done to annoy the powers that be at Automattic?

 

JRH 5/16/19

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WordPress.com deplatforms those critical of Islam

 

By MARC

MAY 15, 2019 10:45 AM

Jihad Watch

 

WordPress.com has deplatormed those critical of Islam. I am very disappointed having been a contributor to the WordPress code in the distant past, and I have assisted in responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities to them on a voluntary basis in the recent past. I did see it coming though.

 

While it would not be possible to restrict use of the WordPress source code which is publicly available and built by volunteers, and distributed at wordpress.org, its [sic] is “open source”.  wordpress.com is very different.  It is a commercial enterprise which has some free options, the codebase being very similar, but proprietary; and includes the hosting aspect as part of the package.

 

Creeping Sharia Suspension Screen Capture

 

I am aware of 2 sites so far that have been taken down, with no warning Creeping Sharia and Muslim Statistics They were first brought to my attention in a tweet:

 

 

Looking at this tweet, it appears that this deplatforming action was due to a complaint from Pakistan regarding breaking Sharia law.

 

 

This is despite their terms of service in section 4 stating:

 

We do not have any control over those websites and are not responsible for their contents or their use.

 

You can always reach out to Automattic to express your disappointment politely on twitter at @automattic at their arbitrary deplatforming of anyone without providing clear reasoning, especially from a platform built mostly by volunteers.

 

I would suggest anyone using wordpress.com (not .org) or for that matter blogger, dump them immediately, and migrate to a non-managed host using the open source version at wordpress.com, I say non-managed host, as managed hosting services seem to be far more likely to be pressured by hate groups such as SPLC into removing services. Non-managed hosting services would include AWS, Linode and my favorite at the moment DigitalOcean (includes referral link).

 

You will also need to use your own domain name, as there is no mysite.wordpress.org as there is with the .com. there are many domain registrars to choose from, you can find a list here at a very useful site for wordpress users.

 

It’s fairly easy to manage your own WordPress blog, these sites all have extensive help documents, and surprisingly un-managed hosting services seem to have far less technical troubles than managed ones do. The WordPress open source community is vibrant.  It might be helpful not to interact using politically sensitive profile names. I mention this as someone I sent there to get help came back telling me they were unhelpful and ignored him. When I checked, I was not surprised.

 

You can import content from your wordpress.com and blogger.com sites into open source wordpress. While I can’t  get too involved in helping you out, if you have any issues, comment here, and I’ll point you in the right direction.

 

Golden rule when managing your own sites and blogs: keep it simple (20 plugins is not OK and use their default themes unless you have programming skills),  keep regular backups, and put them somewhere safe.

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Is Automattic Succumbing Multicultural Pressure?

John R. Houk

© May 16, 2019

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WordPress.com deplatforms those critical of Islam

 

Jihad Watch ® is a registered trademark of Robert Spencer in the United States and/or other countries.

 

Content Copyright Jihad Watch

 

‘Automattic’ Complies to Censorship YET Shows Avoidance


John R. Houk

© April 20, 2019

 

Automattic Brands

 

 

WordPress.com owners “Automattic” sent an email alert that a photo of Muhammad and Aisha portrayed in a pedophiliac relationship with Quranic surahs side-by-side has been restricted in Pakistan in compliance to a Pakistani censorship demand.

 

PHOTO CENSORED BY PAKISTAN DEMAND

 

Here is the email notification of Automattic compliance:

 

Clark S. (Automattic)

Apr 20, 01:07 UTC

[Actual Email Received 4/19/2019 8:07 PM CT]

 

Hello,

 

A Pakistan authority has demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site:

 

https://oneway2day.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/mo-pedophile-aisha-toon.jpg

 

Unfortunately, we must comply to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in the region. As a result, we have disabled this content only for Internet visitors originating from Pakistan. They will instead see a message explaining why the content was blocked.

 

Visitors from outside of Pakistan are not affected.

 

You and your readers may be interested in these suggestions for bypassing Internet restrictions.

 

For your reference, we have included a copy of the complaint. No reply is necessary, but please let us know if you have any questions.

 

— Begin complaint —

 

Dear WordPress Team,

 

I am writing on behalf of Web Analysis Team of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) which has been designated for taking appropriate measures for regulating Internet Content in line with the prevailing laws of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

In lieu of above it is highlighted that few of the web pages hosted on your platform are extremely Blasphemous and are hurting the sentiments of many Muslims around Pakistan. The same has also been declared blasphemous under Pakistan Penal Code section 295, 295A, 295B, 295C and is in clear violation of Section 37 of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 and Section 19 of Constitution of Pakistan.

 

Keeping above in view, It is requested to please support in removing following URL’s from your platform at earliest please.

 

The below mentioned websites can be found on following URL’s:-

 

[…]

    1. https://oneway2day.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/mo-pedophile-aisha-toon.jpg

[…]

 

You are requested to contribute towards maintaining peace and harmony in the world by discontinuation of hosting of these websites for viewership in Pakistan with immediate effect. We will be happy to entertain any query if deemed necessary and looking forward for your favorable response at your earliest.

 

Regards

 

Web Analysis Team

 

+92 51 9214396

— End complaint —

 

Clark
Community Guardian
WordPress.com | Automattic

 

To “Clark” (whoever that individual is) and Automattic’s credit, a link is provided that shows Pakistani residence how to work around Pakistani government censorship. Here is the content of that link:

 

Beat Censorship

https://beatcensorship.wordpress.com/

Bypassing Internet Restrictions

 

Access to the Internet is subject to restrictions in many countries. These range from the ‘Great Firewall of China’, to default content filtering systems in place in the UK. As a result, WordPress.com blogs can sometimes be inaccessible in these places. As far as we are concerned, that’s BS.

 

There are a number of ways available to bypass these restrictions. As part of our commitment to freedom of speech, we have listed some of the possibilities below. Bear in mind that the most effective route will depend on where you are connecting from.

 

While these methods are generally legal, you should always exercise caution when deciding to make use of them, and research the situation in the country you are connecting from first.

 

VPNs (Virtual Private Network)

 

VPN services allow you to connect to the Internet through their networks, rather than accessing websites directly. These connections are often encrypted, bypass restrictions that may be in place, and are often used for secure browsing.

 

Advantages

 

  • Depending on the VPN, users can enjoy anonymity in their web browsing.

 

  • Users from countries that routinely block traffic to and from certain sites within their borders (e.g., China, Russia, Iran) can bypass those restrictions by using a VPN.

 

  • Users concerned about government surveillance and third-party data capture and retention can use a VPN to mask their web activity. The most privacy-conscious VPNs don’t even keep data logs and thus have no user information or traffic to surrender to third-parties.

 

Disadvantages

 

  • VPNs add another layer of complexity to Internet access. Users will need to select from a number of different providers to find the right VPN that meets their needs; download additional software to their computers or mobile devices; and configure the software.

 

  • Not all VPNs provide complete anonymity. Some may log traffic or user data. If it’s a paid VPN service, credit card and other payment information may be linked to individual user accounts, compromising user security and privacy.

 

  • Performance and connectivity can be much slower than standard network connections. In some cases, users may find themselves having to log in multiple times during a session.

 

VPN Examples

 

Some examples of popular VPN services are below. You should make sure to explore the best service for your own situation before making any decisions on what to use.

 

 

 

 

Setting up VPNs

 

Each VPN provider will have different ways to connect to their service. Some example instructions of how to set up VPN connections are below.

 

 

 

VPN services typically also include downloadable apps for your mobile devices such as these:

 

 

 

 

Tor

 

Tor is free software that routes an Internet connection through different locations around the web. This masks where you are connecting from, and bypasses the restrictions put in place by governments and Internet Service Providers. There are versions available for many different platforms, including Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android.

 

While similar to VPN software in many ways, Tor is distinct in that it relies on individual computers acting as nodes to route the connection through – rather than solely large commercial servers. As a result, connecting through Tor can be significantly slower than the speeds you may be used to.

 

More information can be found on the Tor website.

 

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

 

JRH 4/20/19

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