A couple of days ago, I wanted to do a post about the current crisis in the Venezuela-Colombia border and when I tried to go to the Editor, this is what I found:
You can imagine my surprise. Over the years I have encountered threats and suits, but I had never had trouble posting over such a vague “concern” and obviously worried about what it was that WordPress had concerns about.
I wrote back and I got a message that said something like:
“After the receipt of a valid report regarding the publication of private/personal information forbidden by our Terms of Service, posting access to your WordPress.com site has been disabled. If you would like to delete the information in question from the above posts or pages, the site may be returned to normal. If you feel otherwise, you are free to export your content and move it to a more appropriate WordPress host”
Thus, it was move or die…
The post in question was a 2009 post containing information that is widely available on the web, so it seemed more important for me to continue posting and I offered to remove the material, thinking they would do it. I also noted that the material is widely available, inclusively in other wordpress blogs. I also told them that I disagreed with the procedure of stopping me from posting first and later asking me to remove the material. They were basically blocking me from posting without me having any alternative.
At this point I got this response:
“I have temporarily lifted the suspension, but will have to suspend the site indefinitely if you are unable to comply with the request.”
Of course, the problem is that I still did not know what the “request” was, since the precise “information” that was forbidden in the Terms of Service was never specified. Since I did not know the specific material, I went ahead and deleted the post, which was from 2009.
I am, of course, deeply disturbed by all this. I have simply met forces beyond my control. Someone can go to WordPress and complain and without any context, my site can be blocked if I don’t agree to remove the material. It seems I have few rights, unless I want to get into a long-winded fight, while I am unable to post, at a time that it seems very important to post about what is going on in Venezuela.
And being able to post seems to be what is important at this time…
Even more ominous, it seems as if bloggers have little power to fight this, as blog sites are more concerned with not incurring in costs associated with defending the right to say things, than allowing for the truth to be told.
The case involved, as I said, is irrelevant to current Venezuela, but this leaves a very bitter taste in my mouth. because there are forces out there that are more powerful than those that speak and defend the truth, and it is difficult for us to defend ourselves.
And wordpress is just taking the easy way out, which makes me mad and certainly will push me into considering an alternative. If my blog could simply be suspended overnight without me having even the possibility of defending myself, I certainly don’t want to live in this neighborhood ans feel defrauded by the “wonderful” WordPress platform that was supposed to “grow” with me…
NOTE ADDED: Out of the blue wordpress reached out to me apologizing for not being specific and pointing out the material which violated the Terms of Service and letting me know that I can keep the rest of the post up. I will do so as soon I can reconstruct it as I am traveling. The post was made on Dec. 17th. 2009 for those interested.