WordPress Changes Abuse Policy: Excises Defamation Reports-UPDATE
UPDATE2: Complaint Filed with Better Business Bureau on March 30th. WordPress's current rating at the BBB is a B-.
WordPress.com has taken another step toward eliminating any responsibility for the hosting of hate-content at their blog-hosting service (not the open-source blogging tool; the WordPress hosting service itself).
[IMPORTANT UPDATE in body of article below! Also see Original Abuse page screenshot in the Image Widget on this article's page to the left!]
This article is written by Intransitivus of Dysamoria.com, which is a website under defamatory assault by a hate-blog hosted at WordPress.com. Several points in this article are linked to Despair, Inc. product pages to illustrate points (and satirize society). Despair, Inc. did not authorize this, nor did the author ask if it was ok to do it - it's for your enjoyment and the hope that people will buy Despair, Inc.'s fun (and sadly truthful) products.
Over the course of about two weeks, several complaints were sent to firstname.lastname@example.org from independent complainants about a hate-blog (so-called "save dysamoria," recently renamed "forsake dysamoria"). The hate-blog appeared on WordPress.com around February 24th, 2010. This coincided with the date the hate-blog's authors were finally blocked from submitting harassment comments to the Dysamoria.com/blog moderator (we know the authors are the same; their language use and style of harassment tells all: comments were numerous, ranged from complaints about "censorship" of their "opinions" to outright offensive sex spam, and used endless "personalities" which all turned volatile under any attempt at reasoning or scrutiny). The hate-blog exists to mock and defame Jace Cavacini, his family and our blog formerly at Dysamoria.com/blog (info about the blog after the article).
Two weeks passed. WordPress made no response to any contacts (except to state that the owner of appropriated copyright material must report the infringement personally). When DMCA infringement was cited by the owner of the material appropriated (Jace Cavacini's self portraiture photography), the use of that photo in the hate-blog's header disappeared (replaced by an image of an unfortunate-looking fellow). A follow-up report apparently lead to the second copy of the stolen photo also being removed. Who knew there was anything good about the DMCA??
The most offensive postings at the hate-blog cited Jace's family members as being in direct contact with the hate-blog's owners (even declaring they would use the hate-blog to "keep up on details about Jace while his site was down"). This is impressively false; Dysamoria.com's administrators know the Cavacini family and communicate with them directly. The claims on the hate-blog could be proven as false with reports from the people the hate-blog cited by name. Some reports were sent... When this was policy at WordPress…
The final, and most offensive, posting appeared on the 13th of March and was promptly deleted early in the morning (404 error message when attempting to view the posting's comments and earlier postings by entering direct URLs). It appeared that there had been a victory and the good folk at WordPress had "done the right thing."
As recently as two weeks ago, http://en.wordpress.com/abuse/, the abuse-reporting page at WordPress.com (confusingly located at WordPress.com's parent company's site, http://automattic.com/ instead of at the actual WordPress.com site), included defamation as one type of abuse they dealt with. The abuse-reporting procedures specified that statements that can be PROVEN as FALSE would be considered actionable as defamation.
--- UPDATE 03-20-2010 5:30pm (Proof):
Another member of Dysamoria.com found, via the wonderful Google Cache, the previous version of the WordPress Abuse page. The wording used to be:
"In addition to spam and copyright issues, we will suspend blogs or blog posts for the following types of abuse:
- Personal threats and revealing of personal information
- Calls to violence
- Impersonation of a private person
- Accusations that can be proven wrong (for example wrongfully calling someone a convicted felon)"
Excised [within the last two weeks] is the last bullet point: "Accusations that can be proven wrong (for example wrongfully calling someone a convicted felon)."
The Google Cache was recorded March 6th 2010, leading us to believe that this specific event (the hate-blog & related complaints) is indeed what lead them to make the changes we've shown you.
Also notable, and something this author forgot to mention in the original posting of this story, is the ADDITION of NEW text on the Abuse page:
"Furthermore, please note that your complaint may be forwarded to the author of the blog that you are complaining about."
(emphasis from source)
That's a great way to immediately stop the complainant in their tracks before they even act in their own defense, asking WordPress to deal with a situation the victim cannot deal with directly: threaten the victim with exposure and privacy violation!
Back to the original article... We were discussing the way libel and defamation is handled in the USA... putting the responsibility on the victimizer to prove their claims are true (requiring the victim to prove the claims are false)...
This is typical of North American law (such as the USA), but opposite the UK defamation law McDonald's used to create the well known "McLibel" lawsuit (in the UK, the weight of responsibility is on the claimants to prove their claims are true; they can be sued, preemptively, without evidence of wrongdoing and must defend their claims; in the USA, the law provides for legal action only if defamation/libel statements can be proven as false - you choose which is best for your specific case; there are clear issues with both approaches).
It was noted today that the mention of defamation has been excised in totality. We don't know when this change took place, but it's a considerable change to an abuse policy that previously protected free-speech while NOT protecting HATE.
We at Dysamoria.com felt you should know how WordPress currently views human dignity and what they determine to be "free speech."
--- Part of UPDATE:
Also, maybe more important to you users out there who care about your privacy: WordPress now apparently views victims of harassment as mere annoyances. WordPress even threatens to violate your privacy by disclosing your complaints to your harassers.
Apparently, at WordPress.com and Automattic, hate-speech (in this case, specifically defamation) is protected by WordPress' "Freedom of Speech" declarative (Blogger/Google does not protect hate-speech with their own terms of service… right now).
Or, at least they disclaim responsibility.
There's a line between freedom of speech and hate-speech. There's a line between freedom of speech and defamation. The blog that's been producing hate-speech at WordPress against Dysamoria.com (using our trade name "Dysamoria" as the hate-blog poster's ID) has crossed the line more than several times. There were some temporary remedies, but, now, WordPress seems more comfortable sticking its head in the sand. Despair, Inc. has a nice poster for that...
Let the lawyers handle it, right? That's easy for people with money. Not possible for people on disability or with fast-food jobs (or even you self-glorified beauticians at Macy's and small-town traffic-cops). Is it even legal for WordPress to disclaim responsibility for hosting hate-speech and libel? Probably. Only the court can produce an order to WordPress to hand up the identity of the bad folk and only lawyers can wrangle such orders from judges. Can you afford to buy a judge?
Defamation is typically a difficult topic to deal with, legally. Never more true when it assaults those without resources. Fighting against "evildoers" with resources (or against Anonymous Cowards) seems futile. It must be demonstrated that injury, such as financial loss, has been sustained by the victim… yet, despite generous evidence, documentation and complaints by several of Jace Cavacini's former co-workers, his former supervisor at Kutztown University (Will Jefferson) goes unpunished either by his employers or the law. This is in spite of Jefferson causing the loss of Cavacini's career and income. Human Resources lead the inaction, supported by union representatives. Not one lawyer would even respond to contact on the topic.
The hate-bloggers make ridiculous claims and disparaging comments about Cavacini's attempt to seek justice - and surely soon about this NowPublic posting.
Before you get there, haters, we know you'll pick at the validity of those complaints. Be painfully obvious, if you like. You already are.
Apparently anonymity rules the Internet, above and beyond any law of any land. Quite ironically, this is declared by comments posted at the hate-blog itself, and in an excellent article about "Anonymous" at Encyclopedia Dramatica (which itself enjoys lambasting everything and anyone via what it calls satire as its freedom of speech).
There are many types of reform being discussed in the USA at this time. Healthcare, government, voting, copyright, Internet… the list goes on. We suggest more topics need to be addressed on the front pages of the media, such as hate-speech.
This topic has been in and out of the news repeatedly for decades and shows no sign of definite unity across borders of the United States and its little communities of desperate local lawmakers. The existence of the Internet has exacerbated the topic; not assisted in resolving it. The "great leveling of the playing field" also results in "the great accessibility of trolls to assault targets without consequences." There is no sign of positive change coming in ANY of these areas, least of all topics which enjoy no media circus via dovetails with "the economy."
It seems it's up to the people to throw their weight around.
That's you. You good folk.
May God help us, you are so few.
Dysamoria.com/blog was largely authored by Jace Cavacini to express discontent with society for abuses he feels he suffered via healthcare, social services, employment, etc., as a high-functioning autistic. The opinions and articles ranged from personal notes to people in his life, to rants against conservative politics (such as New York State Senate's knocking down of gay marriage), discussions about anti-social behavioral problems (including sociopathy, the seemingly paradoxical problem of low-socially-functioning autistics being unable to co-exist peacefully with other autistics, and persons with Borderline Personality Disorder) and the total obliteration of his gainful employment at Kutztown University in PA. Other topics ranged from rants against the harassment and abuse of others (such as the aforementioned BPD sufferers) by healthcare professionals, law and religion (such as the Catholic Church and Islamic fundamentalists for their long history of misogynist activity) to rants against hate-speech (which Cavacini was accused of himself, due to "naming people" and using excessive profane language, and the author of this article will be accused of for all the Despair, Inc. links). Also at Dysamoria.com, there've been many contributions about sociological issues by a couple other authors brave enough to weather the storm of Anonymous Cowards across the Internet. The website is currently on lockdown (Cavacini felt it had become a waste of breath, shouting to the choir, reaching no satisfactory solutions, - Despair, Inc. has several things to say about giving up… - and to save his moderator from dealing with an endless stream of assaults from a small but very vocal and bored bunch of harassing bad folk, also known as losers).
-Intransitivus of Dysamoria.com
(Not associated with Despair, Inc., but happy to promote their products as messages to a deluded society. Also happily an Anonymous Coward of the Internet, in an evil society that will brutally hunt you down and rape you via every bit of personal information you give it.)