FC: Another example of silly news organizations and dirty word filters

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Wed Nov 06 2002 - 22:48:46 PST

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    The RISKS to this approach to spam-filtering should be obvious. If a 
    reporter wishes to subscribe to a mailing list but not have all the 
    participants know he or she is there, that anonymity can be violated 
    through a dumb dirty word filter that auto-responds. Perhaps we'll see 
    anyone worried about a reporter from Tribune Media 
    (http://www.tms.tribune.com/aboutus.html) lurking send foul language to a 
    list and wait for the autoreplies to arrive. :)
    Previous Politech message:
    "Newspapers filter out 'bad words' from email to their reporters" 
    To: declanat_private
    Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 16:36:38 -0500
    Subject: Defective SPAM filter, or corporate censorware weirdness?  Also, 
    Tribune censorware defects
    Message-ID: <20021106.163640.-127975531.6.terry.sat_private>
    I tried sending my brother a scan of my maternal family tree for 6
    generations, found in our mother's files of deteriorating paper copies.
    This came back:
    <username>@kodak.com>: failed after I sent the message.
    Remote host said: 550 5.5.0 Mail refused - Banned word found in Subject
    --- Below this line is a copy of the message.
    Return-Path: <terry.sat_private>
    To: <username>@kodak.com
    Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2002 13:55:07 -0500
    Subject: Sxxxxxrg family tree, etc.
    So, what's the banned word above?  Is it a defective SPAM filter, or a
    super secret content based censorship list of banned ideas that
    constitute hate speech and masked defamation of those thinking or
    expressing the secret banned thoughts?
    A month ago, I got some nastygrams from a mailserver at Tribune Media in
    Chicago.  Apparently, they censor mail their reporters receive at local
    owned newspapers around the country, via central corporate policies.
    One of their reporters subscribed to a listserver run by a Virginia pagan
    campground and religious retreat center (notably right between Pat
    Robertson and Jerry Falwell's home bases), though he didn't post to
    become visible as present.  He subscribed because of issues related to
    Eure porta potty rental's owner deciding pagans shouldn't poop in his
    pots, which the campground had been renting.  Eure also has government
    and government contractor construction business in the area, for which
    such a business policy would likely be illegal.
    This led to a mix of serious ethical and legal discussion, with jokes and
    even a song ("God Says") which received radio airplay on both coasts
    after AP carried the story.  When some of the jokes included "shit" in
    the subject line, Tribune's corporate censorware started sending bounce
    messages to persons posting, who had no way of knowing why they'd receive
    mail about messages sent by a list bot, not by them, to the silently
    subscribed reporter.
    I wrote Tribune management about how they were engaging in hate speech
    contrary to their own posted online user agreements, depriving their
    reporters of the ability to work professionally, and in effect SPAMming
    third party list subscribers directly who at best could guess or ask a
    list owner questions about what was going on.  The Tribune responded as
    if they were clueless about how their mail could be unsolicited when sent
    to posters to a list who'd never directly contacted one of their
    employees, as well as being clueless about how religiously prejudiced and
    intolerantly hateful their content based blacklist was among people who
    outwardly reject christian concepts of "indecency".
    Were I a Trib employee, I'd be concerned that such practices, beyond
    being unethical and disrupting professional communications, amount to
    criminal and civil religious discrimination, which in the guise of
    protecting the tender sensitivities of some workers actively defame core
    beliefs and values of others.
    In both of these cases of large corporations, I'd bet the root problem is
    predatory management attitudes and people without adequate clues making
    corporate policy, which underlings are reluctant to effectively
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