Freedom of expression online, the great inspiring vision of so many early internet pioneers, is not entirely bereft of support even now, it seems. The good news is that WordPress, the outfit that hosts Heretic TOC, has a strong track record of opposing censorship and has positively rejected the recent attempt to have this blog closed down.
It will be recalled that a certain “Scarlet Wilde” tweeted, ““Paedophile blogs at WordPress: Heretic TOC… am reporting to close.” (See Heretic TOC threatened with closure, 10 January). It has now emerged that this was not just an idle threat. “Scarlet Wilde” has her own WordPress blog, where she recently posted a piece called The problem with paedophile PR. Towards the end she said:
Finally, I would like to let other WordPress users know that we are sharing our blogging platform with known paedophiles and paedophile activists. I have reported these sites to WordPress, but they will not take action to close them down unless there are pictures of actual abuse etc. This makes me uncomfortable about blogging here, so I am considering a move to another platform which has a stronger policy on sites advocating the promotion of sex with children.
Ever obliging, Heretic TOC is pleased to assist with such a move by recommending an alternative platform: Blogger. As Steve Diamond helpfully commented:
Blogger [owned by google] is hands down, the single worst abusive censor of people like us, I have ever witnessed. There are [or at least were] people on their staff, who think nothing of taking personal interest in hounding people off of the service…
Scarlet Wilde should feel completely at ease in this paradise of persecution and I wish her joy of it!
I confess, though, that Heretic TOC’s choice of WordPress was a matter of pure dumb luck: they have an attractive range of site formats and just happened to be in my face with their promotional material at the right time. So it is only now, in the wake of this censorship scare, that I have checked them out a bit. The WordPress entry in Wikipedia notes attempts to scupper their operations in Turkey and Brazil by parties who dislike their commitment to free expression. Likewise in China they were blocked for a while. Matt Mullenweg, the young entrepreneur who developed WordPress, said:
WordPress.com supports free speech and doesn’t shut people down for ‘uncomfortable thoughts and ideas’, in fact we’re blocked in several countries because of that.
Turns out there are nearly 60 million WordPress.com sites, and clients include CNN, CBS, BBC, Reuters, Sony and Volkswagen. Not bad going for a 2005 start-up, especially when parent company Automattic (the spelling plays on the founder’s first name) appears to be staffed entirely by trendy teenagers (well, from my old timer’s perspective that’s what they look like in their photos on the About Us page) with job titles like “happiness engineer”, “bug exorcist” and “accelerant”.
Well, they have certainly engineered a bit of happiness here at Heretic TOC. Long may their freedom policy prosper!