SonicWall Censorship Meme


12 comments posted
Source of classification

Well, I guess I'll have to branch out from Panera. How else can I regularly annoy the community?

Where they're getting this impression, I don't know. Perhaps a little troll whispered in their ear?

I think it might be the padlocked penis story below. I, for one, could have told you that blog entry was below the belt.

But seriously, folks, remember to tip your waiters and waitresses ...


pennywit's picture
Posted by pennywit on 10 August 2005 - 12:10am
The padlocked penis?

And here I got that story from a mainstream media website!

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 10 August 2005 - 12:35am
It's more likely the frequent discussion of rape...

and battery, unless they consider feminist sites as hating men. Have you looked up any other feminist sites there?

I'll have to check it out. Do you only get one category? If you can have more than one rating, they fucked up on The Goddess. Not only do I discuss the Occult - ooohh! - I've got pictures of beautiful naked men and I celebrate ecstatic revelry through sex and drugs as a part of my religion.

Morgaine-ism© #8

"A Woman's Sexual and Reproductive Autonomy is Sacred and Absolute."

Morgaine Swann's picture
Posted by Morgaine Swann on 10 August 2005 - 12:45am
I'd be interested to know

I tried Amanda and feministing, who had innocuous ratings.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 10 August 2005 - 8:55am
I work in a public school...

and I have been noticing lately that a lot of the blogs on the "feminist blogs" feed are labeled pornographic.

I thought it was annoying when mine was marked as "chat" or "bulletin board" and I could no longer blog from work. Now I'm actually pissed off.

drublood's picture
Posted by drublood on 10 August 2005 - 6:13am

On a positive note, the site was ranked as "religion", not "occult".

So far I have not rankled the gods of SonicWALL yet, as my humble blog was ranked merely as "web communications"...where they got that, I will never know...

nemohee's picture
Posted by nemohee on 10 August 2005 - 11:39am
A couple of patterns coming up

Interesting. Some of this seems pretty random and with others there's a pattern.

I've checked out 7 typepad blogs and they have all come up "Business and economy".

With the exception of one blogspot blog that is certainly mature content, all the blogspot blogs I've checked thus far ar coming up "web communications".

I have a regular url and I come up "news and media" while a charity/advocacy site I manage comes up "religion" and has nothing to do with religion at all, not even a mention on it there. But another policital/advocacy site I do does come up political/advocacy. The blogs with regular urls are coming up pretty random though, I'm getting results like usenet.groups, society and life and one progressive blog even came up online banking.

Thanks for the heads up on this.

Idyllopus's picture
Posted by Idyllopus on 10 August 2005 - 1:17pm
Some new info on how censorware works

Some new info.

I had posted about this also on my website and my findings were that there were some patterns with people one typepad tending to come up as business and economy and people on blogger tending to come up as web communications. Later a Seth Finkelstein came by my site and posted a link to his page on censorware which is very interesting. And he briefly noted in my comments area that "The system is simple. Roughly, all blogs on a service (IP address) will have a default blacklisting. Then individual blogs may have entries which override that default."

So what he said confirms what I was finding, though, as he noted, there are exceptions.

Anyway, I suggest reading his page. He gave testimony before congress on DMCA Censorware in April 2003 and also was profiled in the NY Times in 2001 in "Cracking the code of online censorship".

Idyllopus's picture
Posted by Idyllopus on 13 August 2005 - 8:53am
Getting iagoed...

Shalom Mediagirl,

The SonicWall Censorship Meme got passed along to me by Terry at I See Invisible People. I posted on the subject on Wednesday and Cleveland bloggers discussed the topic and possible legal action for defamation/slander at our monthly Meetup this week. The opinion of one of the lawyers there was that until damage could be shown, there was no case.

Like yourself, I got hit with the violence/hate/racism tag. As an educator, I was very concerned that this could be spread to my students and parents and cause me no end of grief. SonicWall did respond in three-business days to my concerns and gave me the benign rating of web communications.

What concerns me now is that I'm going to have to undertake a never-ending review of censorware sites to ensure that I'm not iagoed again.


Jeff Hess

Jeff Hess's picture
Posted by Jeff Hess on 19 August 2005 - 1:26pm

I have not heard back from SonicWall at all. But after seeing your post, Jeff, I thought I'd re-check the rating for ... and it's now category 31 - web communications.

So either they saw my email, or the meme going around, and fixed the site rating. Still, what a crazy world of corporate censorship we live in!

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 19 August 2005 - 2:46pm
Classification errors

Being that the technology of content-filtering is what it is to different people (just plain censorships to some, or a service that some businesses feel obligated to provide to their employees/patrons to others) I won't touch the topic of whether it's right or wrong. But since companies, like SonicWALL, who provide content-filtering services have to classify millions of web-sites, there are bound to be errors.

Whether it's automated, token-based classification, real-live human reviews, etymologically-savvy ibis, or all of the above - some fractional percentage of pages will be mis-classified.

Since improper classification does not serve SonicWALL (in fact, higher degrees of accuracy are advantageous) we encourage, appreciate, and are extremely responsive to feedback, and provide a facility for this:

Yes, I am employed by SonicWALL. We build products designed to stop the bad-guys, not the good-guys. It vexes me to see our products frustrating legitimate users, and I want to improve the situation. We are currently considering adding the above review link directly to the 'block' page. Would that help?

Excepting comments like "stop promoting censorship, you fascists" and in addition to "classify stuff more accurately", any other recommendations you have on how we could improve this service?

moosifer's picture
Posted by moosifer on 24 August 2005 - 10:26am

I think you've already made an important step by commenting here. Thank you. This is the first public comment I've seen made by SonicWall anywhere outside of your website. That's not to say you haven't been trying to be accessible, but it's not been easy to find.

The biggest complaint that others have made is that SonicWall presents a wall to everyone. No customer service. No appeals process. My own email to SonicWall received an autoreply, and that's it. Without any sort of dialogue with the customers, how can you properly serve the customers? (And "customers" include everyone who experiences the web through your filters.)

How to change this is to establish real transparency in your process. How are sites evaluated? Is there an appeal process for improperly categorized websites? What are the implications of a given categorization?

You might consider adding a blog, too. Business blogging is the forward-thinking approach to public relations. Talk about the issues you face from your perspective.

"A better internet" is something everyone strives for. Some are willing to have third parties decide for them. Some are told by lawyers to have third parties decide for them. But most of us do it on our own, with Bayesian spam filters in our email programs, virus protection, etc. We don't want Big Brother deciding what's fit for our eyes.

Ideally your service could be something a lot of people might want to use -- on their own initiative, instead of on the advice of lawyers or in the interest of protecting children. But they won't trust you if you continue to be an opaque wall, unresponsive to the people who would use it.

media girl's picture
Posted by media girl on 24 August 2005 - 11:09am