'Occupy Wall Street' Activists Accuse Yahoo of Censoring E-Mails

on September 21 2011 12:47 PM
  • Yahoo's Twitter Apology
  • Yahoo's Twitter Aplogy
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Yahoo is accused of censoring e-mail messages on the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, after Yahoo users posted numerous videos on YouTube demonstrating the censorship.

Occupy Wall Street, or #occupywallstreet, is a continuing nonviolent demonstration that began in Lower Manhattan's Financial District Saturday. Activists are protesting the power of corporations and finance over American politics and the lack of criminal prosecution of financial malefactors, among other concerns.

Organizers hope to emulate the mass demonstrations of Cairo's Tahrir Square and European capitals, but have drawn far fewer numbers.

According to the videos uploaded on YouTube, Yahoo blocked e-mail messages which included occupywallst.org, the Web site set up by the protestors.

An error message following the blocked e-mails said: Your message was not sent. Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent. If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for further help. We apologize for the inconvenience.

The videos also show users sending e-mails with different Web site addresses with no problem.

Yahoo's earlier attempts to censor e-mails in China had met with heavy criticism from pro-democracy activists. In 2001, Chinese activists were arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for using a Yahoo account to post anonymous writing to an Internet mailing list, which Yahoo, under pressure from the Chinese government, eventually blocked. With the help of the World Organization for Human Rights, two Internet activists sued Yahoo, accusing it of abetting the torture of pro-democracy writers by providing information that allowed the Chinese government to identify them.

Thinkprogress.org, a liberal group, said it has been monitoring Yahoo's e-mail service and has now been able to send messages containing the phrase 'Occupy Wall Street' and its Web site on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.

Yahoo has responded through its Twitter accounts, saying the unintentional error was caused by spam filters.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters hope to begin a sustained occupation of Wall Street lasting a few months. The leaderless protests were sparked by Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist magazine, while the hacker group Anonymous' interest in the demonstrations attracted more attention.

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