By now most people are aware of the issue of men's rights website being wrongly blocked by Symantec and various mobile phone companies due to them somehow being flagged as "hate sites". I've done further investigations and can exclusively reveal the official response from these companies on this matter. There tends to be a bit of confusion about this issue and so firstly I'll attempt to explain what's going on and tackle some misconceptions.
Which sites are blocked?
I initially identified 48 sites blocked by Symantec/O2 and flagged as "hate sites". The list then grew to 58 as even more were identified. It's fair to say that a majority of key sites critical of feminism and supportive of men's rights are blocked. You can see the full list here.
What exactly does this mean for the sites concerned?
The "hate site" classification means a number of users are denied any access, particularly people accessing the internet in some restaurants, workplaces and via mobile phone networks such as Telefonica/O2. In total Symantec claims 250 million users of the filter worldwide, so it could easily mean a 10% reduction in traffic for mens' rights sites.
How long has this being going on?
It is uncertain as to exactly how long this has been an issue. I became aware of the problem in May 2012 though it appears to have been going on in some cases for at least two years. It must have been happening for a considerable length of time as some of the blocked sites no longer exist.
Hold on, I thought avoiceformen.com had been unblocked and Symantec had backed down?
Sadly this is not the case and such a suggestion is based on a false report in the media. Avoiceformen.com was never unblocked at any stage.
I find this all a bit hard to believe, how can I check a site's classification for myself?
There are currently two ways to check whether or not a site has been branded as a "hate site". Users have previously checked a site's status by enabling Norton's DNS service, but a much easier method is O2's url checker.
Other mens' rights activists and even member of the media have had difficulty getting any sort of meaningful response from Symantec so I've taken a different approach and been in touch with O2/Telefonica management. I asked them to classify the blocked websites more appropriately and to stop censoring such content. Eventually I was put in contact with O2's head of complaints, Antony Gibson, and he confirmed that O2 use the same filter service from Symantec, called Rulespace, thus explaining why the two block lists of the two companies are identical.
Mr Gibson liaised with Symantec and informed me they had reviewed the list and decided to reclassify just 2 out of the 47 sites I presented them with. This therefore means the "hate" classification/block officially stands for the bulk of this content (including avoiceformen.com) and is no accident. Mr Gibson explained that O2/Symantec regarded the sites to be at the "low end" of the spectrum in terms of hate and further explained that they were blocked and classed as "hate sites" due to reasons such as showing "aggression" and/or use of the term "anti-feminism"!
Mr Gibson did express some concern about people seeing men's rights sites listed as hate sites and smeared in this way, but O2's solution to our concerns is that they will disable their url checker so no one can see the reason why a site has been blocked. In other words O2 is fairly happy for the issue of human rights for men to be classed as hateful, their only concern is people finding out that they're taking this stance. So, now we have no just a case of censorship and defamation, but a cover up too!
To compound matters yet further, many of these sites classified as hateful really are incredibly innocuous and deal with very important issues, many don't even use the term "anti-feminist" either nor contain "aggression". Such a term is so vague and ambiguous as to be completely meaningless, and proves absolutely how the filter is arbitrary and a nonsense and completely open to abuse. More importantly, if O2/Symantec have an issue with the term "anti-feminist", then they are quite blatantly taking an extreme political stance in favour of an ideology. Afterall, there's barely any more "aggressive" way of supporting feminist doctrine than to censor and defame anyone who dares critique or correct it.
I think this issue really sums up how important the men's' movement is today, not to mention the scale of the challenge facing us. We see countless feminist activists all over the media campaigning against free speech and equality and seeking privileges for women such as subsidised insurance premiums. Feminists make endless sexist comments telling men not to rape and even the host of the world's leading feminist radio programme openly laughs at male victims of domestic abuse. Whilst all this has been going on, and despite spending countless hours on the matter, I've failed with a simple request for companies to stop denying help to male victims of rape and domestic violence. In fact I can't even get these sick companies to remove their "hate site" smear from their classification of these vitally important resources. Perhaps I haven't yet been "aggressive" enough?
Here's a selection of sites O2/Symantec's insist on keeping in their "hate site" category:
http://dvmen.org - A site in Colorado helping male victims of domestic violence.
http://toysoldier.wordpress.com - A blog highlighting the plight of male victims of rape and abuse.
http://www.ncfm.org -Website of the longest running men's human rights organisation in the US (founded in 1977).
http://www.fathersforlife.org - A site seeking for fathers to have a greater role in their children's lives.
http://www.debunker.com/patriarchy.html - A webpage scientifically debunking the most common feminist myths.
http://disenfranchisedfather.blogspot.co.uk - blog by a fahter who doesnt' get to see his son.
For those who are curious, apparently the only two non-"hateful" men's sites out of the 47 are:
Hisside.com and dadi.org and both are now unblocked.
O2 have been in touch and would like me to point out that O2 customers who are over 18 can remove the restriction and view any web site they want to by going through their age verificaiton process which can be found here. Customers without a credit card can visit an O2 store with photo ID such as a passport or driving licence.
by John Kimble
The following may or may not be the email addresses of the O2 board members:
Matthew.Kay@o2.com, Pilar.López@o2.com, Ronan.Dunne@o2.com, Trevor.Healy@o2.com, Kate Jarvis@o2.com, Simon.Linares@o2.com, Richard.Poston@o2.com, René.Schuster@o2.com, Stephen.Shurrock@o2.com, David.Arculus@o2.com, Peter.Erskine@o2.com, Cath.Keers@o2.com, Eduardo.Zaplana@o2.com