Since March this year I've been updating the ever expanding list of men's human rights sites wrongly blocked by Symantec and O2 and categorised as "hate". The list currently stands at some 108 domains and grows by the week as more sites are tested.
It's worth considering that human rights sites aren't the only ones that suffer from over blocking, for example the excellent Biassed BBC blog was blocked as a hate site last year, and I've discovered that feminist site The F-Word was at least blocked to audiences under 18 last year, therefore suggesting it was either classed as hate or perhaps pornography. It's not the most misandrist feminist blog going, but the editor, Jess McCabe, does express some extreme and very sexist views at times, such as how it is "horrendous that women are getting charged at all" for ruining mens lives with false rape allegations. She genuinely believes that women who commit such heinous crimes should go completely unpunished, so it's fair to say that, whilst not deserving of a "hate" classification, it would ceritnaly be easier to make a case for The F-Word Blog to recieve one than most of the men's equality sites on the list.
Such a block represents an interesting case study as it enables us compare the treatment of feminist sites with those campaigning for men's human rights. The block of The F-Word appears to have originally come to light on Twitter with O2 soon acknowledging the issue and The Index on Censorship also mentioning the case It's unclear as to exactly how long it took for the site to be reclassified, but the site was unblocked at some point and placed in the "Entertainment and music" category.
The above events took place at exactly the same time we started noticing the censorship of men's human rights sites and the Index on Censorship article mentioned above also highlighted how such sites were blocked. Seeing as my list of blocked men's sites has expanded significantly of late I decided to try raising the issue again and managed to finally find the direct contact detials for the Symantec Rulespace team responsible for classifying these sites. Their response to my reuqest for them to review the 108 site was that they stood by the "hate" classification in each and every single case bar one. Only one classification is a mistake so we now have it direct from those reponsible that sites such as http://www.dvmen.co.uk constitutes "hate".
After my preicous contact with O2, eight sites were reclassified by Symantec, so if you have an incorrectly blocked men's human rights site, even if you write article after article, and get the attention of the tech media and civil liberties group, and have multiple parties requesting a stop to the censorship, then at best there's a 7% chance of success. On the other hand, feminists have a 100% success rate in appealing their blocks and all they have to do is send a quick tweet to achieve such a level of success. This is yet more clear evidence of sexism, not just in terms of what sites are blocked but even in trying to overturn such blocks.
To see a fully up to date list of wrongly blocked site, see the following:
Many thanks to the increasing number of bloggers who have been helping publicise this issue, more to come shortly.
By John Kimble