AOL Censors Emails Mentioning A Popular Website Exposing Major Cover-ups
Special Update April 2007: Without giving any exlanation, the AOL block on emails which included the name of our website, WantToKnow.info, was lifted on April 10th. Thank you very much to the many supporters who called and emailed AOL and their political and media representatives. You have made a difference. We leave the message below for those who want to know all that happened. Together, we are making a big difference in the world!
AOL is now engaging in censorship by blocking emails from all non-AOL users which include the term "want to know (dot) info" (without the spaces). If you add a www. in front of the above term and don't use spaces, it is the Internet address of a popular website which exposes major corruption and calls us to work together to strengthen democracy. As the manager of this website, I am avoiding using the website address directly here so that this message can get through to those who use AOL as their email service provider.
To verify that this email blocking is indeed happening, simply send an email to any friend who uses AOL for their email service and type the above term anywhere in the message without the spaces. Don't forget to include the ".info" immediately after the term. You will find that the email bounces back to you. Strangely, this only applies to non-AOL users. If AOL subscribers send emails with the website address in question included, they go through. In order to go to the website without triggering the AOL filter by including a direct link, we've set up bypass. To be redirected to our home page now, click here.
As a result this blocking, all of the almost 300 subscribers to our email list who use aol.com can no longer receive our information-packed newsletters. After checking with a number of our AOL subscribers, we have determined that the blocking went into effect shortly after we sent an email revealing a major banking cover-up to our over 3,000 subscribers on March 24, 2007.
Our website (which I won't mention throughout this message) specializes in providing reliable, verifiable information on major corruption and cover-ups of which few are aware. Apparently, someone at AOL does not like this. What gives AOL the right to block all emails sent by the general public which mention a particular website? I am convinced that blocking all emails which mention a designated website is not only unethical, it is illegal.
AOL claims there were complaints of spam. Websites don't send out spam. Spam is generated through email. AOL certainly would be within its rights legally and ethically to block all email addresses from a website known to be generating spam, but only the emails. This has nothing to do with spam. I suspect the spam claim is being used as an excuse to disguise censorship.
What's more, AOL doesn't even attempt to contact the website being blocked to give an opportunity for the suspected website to explain what is happening. It is even more egregious when -- as in the case of Want To Know (dot) info -- the website and associated emails lists have never engaged in practices which would be considered spamming. Our email lists use a double opt-in subscription process, and we include information on how to unsubscribe from our lists at both the top and bottom of every email sent. This is above and beyond what is required to avoid being labeled as spam.
AOL's practice of blocking any mention of websites in emails sent by the general public is clearly censorship. It is not only unethical, but I believe it could be shown to be illegal, as it prohibits the free flow of information in a democratic society. This could easily be proven to be an infringement on the free speech rights of the public guaranteed under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. On what legal grounds did AOL have the right to block all emails from anyone in the public mentioning our website?
Many of us suspect that this is one of those shady areas through which certain individuals and groups with ulterior motives are able to exert censorship under the guise of stopping spam. We all know that there are many people and groups at all levels of industry and government who place their own interests above the interests of the public. Some of these could easily leverage their influence to cause public services like AOL to accuse someone they want to target of being a spammer, and with this excuse block any mention of their website in emails sent by the public.
In fact, accusations of spam should be dealt with by blocking the spam emails and not blocking any mention of the website. This clearly amounts to deceptive use (blocking websites) of a legitimate function (blocking spam) and thus blocks free speech.
For those who have not received our recent emails, you can go to the home page of our website and look in the blue column on the left. Scroll down to the section titled "Information Centers." The first link there titled "Email List Messages" provides links to all of our previous emails with the most recent ones listed first.
I invite you to join in a mass email campaign informing people of this infringement on our rights. Encourage all AOL users to switch to other email and Internet service providers. Please forward this message widely, especially to AOL subscribers. Encourage your friends who use AOL to switch to a free Internet email service like gmail.com, fastmail.fm, yahoo.com, or hotmail.com. And in order for AOL users who subscribe to our email list to continue to receive our information-packed emails, you must unsubscribe your AOL address and then resubscribe a new, non-AOL email address using this link.
You can also help spread the word by contacting your political and media representatives. For the best way to reach them and make an impact, click here. To read our email email exchanges with AOL about what is going on, click here. Together, we can put a stop to this censorship of vital information.
Thanks for caring and for making a difference in our world. I have no doubt that by working together, we can and will build a brighter future for all of us.
With best wishes,
Fred Burks for PEERS and the website which can't be mentioned
Former language interpreter for Presidents Bush and Clinton
Final Note: To see the message on the banking cover-up which may have caused this censorship, use the search engine in the left column of any page on our website and do a search for "banking cover-up." You won't regret taking some time to explore the website which can't be named to see the abundance of highly revealing and empowering information presented which calls us all to work together for a better world. To be redirected to our home page now, click here.
Explore these empowering websites coordinated by the nonprofit PEERS network:
- Every person in the world has a heart
Want to know (dot) info
- Reliable, verifiable information on major cover-ups
http://www.inspiringcommunity.org - Building a Global Community for All
http://www.weboflove.org - Strengthening the Web of Love that interconnects us all
Educational websites promoting transformation through information and inspiration
AOL Censorship of Email Lists