StumbleUpon and the Magically Disappearing Blogs

Let’s discuss censorship.

A friend once told me my usage of the word was incorrect. That true censorship is the forced cessation of circulating ideas via media by a government. I think that, while his definition was likely true at one time, it needs to be refined. Today, it seems we give many corporations a vested say in government. Just look at Rupert Murdoch, fercryinoutloud. 

And now we have eBay, which seems bound and determined to drive SU into the cellar as fast as it can say “sold for $.50.” 

StumbleUpon  has recently added a “flag this user” button. The “flag this user” works in a very interesting way; you can give both positive and negative feedback. Those flags are labeled

In any other universe which did not contain humans, this would probably be a good thing. But as I have stated repeatedly; most people are bastards. Bastard covered bastards with bastard filling. Don’t like a person? Did they say something in the fora that offended you? Did they give you a negative review? Point out that you’re a spammer or have horrible grammar and can’t put two sentences together without a flashlight, map, and Tenzing Norgay (not that that unfavorably reviewed person even knows who Tenzing Norgay is, other than some dude with a funny name)? Did they offend you because of their political/religious beliefs or sexual content on their page? No problem! Just hit “flag this user,” and you have your revenge! The person’s account is suspended, and they are placed under review.

Here’s where the fun censorship bit comes in. Once an account is suspended for review, the suspended member is able to appeal. However; according to at least three Stumblers I have corresponded with via email, you can wait for months before that review actually happens. One has been waiting since March and still has not received a determination. There is no actual timeline given. Should any of those users open a new account under a different name, they are automatically in breach of the ToS, and both accounts will be banned from SU. ‘S brilliant, innit? The user doesn’t actually HAVE to do anything wrong, per se, the devs at SU just have to wait it out til the user gets bored and really wants to come back, then they can justifiably ban them. As I said; bastards.

Now, some say “after all, it’s SU’s site and we just use it; we should be happy it’s here and all obey the rules and be good little sheep and everything will be fine.” To which I naturally reply: “screw you.” We the users provide the content on SU; without those users, there would be no SU. Not to mention, many people pay for the “privilege” of stumbling. When did the concept of “the customer’s always right” disappear? I realize customer service is something of an anomaly these days, but the concept is still there. “Here, pay us, and you’ll get what we decide to give you!” Not the best of clever advertizing slogans, but it certainly seems to be what we’re reduced to of late.

StumbleUpon is much like television. If you don’t like what you’re seeing….CHANGE THE DAMN CHANNEL!! NO, you do not get to have it removed for you because you’re too damn lazy to think. NO, you do not get to dictate what other people consider interesting just so your 16 year old baby won’t see Janet Jackson’s nipple on the screen for 1/10th of a second during churc….er, the Super Bowl. NO, you do not get to take away my right to demand questionable content. Because that’s where the truly interesting information lies.

Obviously, something sparked my post this morning. Last night, one of my friends was put under review. I’ve actually known her for quite some time; we’ve corresponded and exchanged dog photos and laughed back and forth. What was her unspeakable crime? I’ll tell you. She made fun of another stumbler. “Say it ain’t so!” You gasp, in mock horror. “Someone on the internet made fun of someone else?!?!?!”  “Well, yes.” I reply, my brow furrowing some over your extraneous use of punctuation. “Unfortunately, the person she made fun of is a rather well-connected stumbler, one who has sucked up to the devs and befriended them and essentially can get people banned because she’s just that spiteful and can’t bear to be laughed at. As most people can’t.”

See, kids; this is the internet. Not a fifth grade playground. Although there are similarities. Someone saying “tee hee, you write funny poooooeetryyyy!” (and yes, that is what she said that got her suspended) is not harrassment. Or stalking. It’s a single comment that most adults with any amount of intestinal fortitude should be able to look at and say “you don’t like my poetry. Big fat hairy deal.” instead of running off to mommy to make the mean lady go away.

Am I frustrated? Obviously. Am I angry? Bet your ass. Because it isn’t just this one person, it’s happening all over SU, and usually because the person doing the reporting doesn’t have a good reason (okay, list of good reasons: child porn, spam, ACTUAL harrassment) other than they just don’t like that person. And it shouldn’t be that easy. KnowwhutImean,Vern? Unfortunately, unless people complain where it’s likely to be seen (read: somewhere OTHER than SU), it likely won’t get remedied. That’s where you and I come in. Hopefully, if the devs see that this is being discussed on sites other than theirs, they’ll get their act together and clean up their policy. So do me a favor; if you’re on SU and have a blog elsewhere, start talking about it.