WordPress.com caves to censorship pressure again

WordPress is great blogging software if you are self-hosting, but their dedicated hosting solution at wordpress.com has proved once again to be weak-kneed and prone to collapse at the first whiff of controversy.

The latest episode involves a blog about a deluded cancer quack by the name of Andreas Moritz. The self-described “medical intuitive” was upset when a student by the name of Michael Hawkins put up a critical post on his wordpress.com site. Andreas Moritz is a stupid, dangerous man is still available on an older site, but a complaint by Moritz to WordPress was enough to get the the “For the Sake of Science” site shut down.

There are few more sensitive to criticism than the self-deluded, but Moritz managed to make himself even more contemptible by writing a gloating email to Hawkins

Michael Hawkins,

You may blame me for having your blog pulled. WorldPress had to remove your blog because otherwise it would have faced a hefty lawsuit, given the nature of the defamation campaign you had launched against me, and having positioned your blog link second place on the search engines.

Of course, now that he has kicked up a fuss and the story has appeared on both Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence, a Google search for “Andreas Moritz” now throws up highly critical results in second and third placess. It can’t be long before one reaches the top spot.

As PZ Myers points out,

I hate to give hints to kooks, but really, you should study the Streisand effect. Attempts at legal intimidation, threats to silence web sites, and those kinds of nasty shenanigans to squelch bad publicity always backfire on the internet.

The last time WordPress.com caved to pressure from offended kooks was when they pulled some educational cartoons about the life of Mohammed in late 2008.

UPDATE: (Feb 23) The original article is back, and at number 2 in a Google search: Andreas Moritz is a stuped dangerous man. Well done, WordPress.com.


2 Responses to “WordPress.com caves to censorship pressure again”

  1. [...] a Stupid, Dangerous Man,” Moritz lobbied WordPress.com to have Hawkins’ blog shut down. WordPress.com complied, though it’s unclear whether it did so in reaction to Hawkins or from the complaint of [...]

  2. Interesting battle on the WordPress fontline.

    Not sure whether censoring was merrited in this case.
    We have Freedom of Speech through the 1st Ammendment so for this reason the comments should be permitted…

    …but

    If squables like this are going to be problematic for WordPress then WordPress management needs to setup clearly defined do’s and don’t’s for those blogs that are hosted exclusively in their domain as opposed to a WordPress blog hosted on a domain purchased by the website owner.

    The other point is that Freedom of Speech is exactly that…it’s a freedom. It’s a freedom that requires a little self imposed responsibility where individuals think before they share their thoughts with not just the indivual with whom there is a conflict but with all the other individuals who are not directly involved in the conflict.

    Brett
    Atomic Blogging World