Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New York Sun Covers Shut-Down of Mitchell Langbert's Blog/Google Apologizes

The New York Sun's Anna Phillips has covered the shut down of this and other anti-Obama blogs last week. Google has posted a general apology here. The Google text follows the Sun article.

Google insists that the problem is purely due to their computer algorithm. I do not know enough to argue, but it seems too coincidental that the Hillary Clinton campaign was having a similar problem several months ago when Hillary was running against Obama, and now I and other Republican anti-Obama bloggers have had the very same problem.

Just by way of self-defense, although it may look like I spend more time on the political diatribe-type blogs, the academic-type blogs such as my write-up of Howe's book on the Whigs take up 4/5ths of my blogging time. Thus my claim to Ms. Phillips about the blog being two thirds academic stuff is probably an understatement, although it may appear to be an overstatement.

Anna Phillips's Sun Article:

>Anti-Obama Bloggers Say They Were Silenced

Web loggers who are campaigning against Senator Obama's presidential run are accusing Google and Obama supporters of silencing them after their Web logs were marked as spam and their accounts temporarily frozen.

On Thursday, hours after publishing a post about an online petition demanding that Mr. Obama publicly produce his birth certificate, an associate professor of business administration at Brooklyn College, Mitchell Langbert, found that he could no longer access his Web log.

Google's Blogger hosting service had suspended "Mitchell Langbert's Blog," which Mr. Langbert describes as "two-thirds academic stuff I'm working on and one-third politics," until it could verify the Web log was not a "spam blog," or a site designed solely to increase the page views of associated Web sites.

A day later Google lifted the block on the account, but the incident and earlier Web log freezes in late June have led Mr. Langbert and other anti-Obama bloggers to accuse the Illinois senator's supporters of intentionally identifying their blog addresses to Google as spam blogs. They also say the company has reflexively suspended the sites.

"These tech-savvy smart alecks have figured out that if you report a blog you don't like, you can do some damage to a person," Mr. Langbert said.

A spokesman for Google, Adam Kovacevich, said in a statement that an overzealous antispam filter was responsible for the blocks.

"We believe this was caused by mass spam e-mails mentioning the 'Just Say No Deal' network of blogs, which in turn caused our system to classify the blog addresses mentioned in the e-mails as spam," he said. "We have restored posting rights to the affected blogs, and it is very important to us that Blogger remain a tool for political debate and free expression."

Several of the blogs that were blocked, including hillaryorbust.com and comealongway.blogspot.com, are part of the "Just Say No Deal" network of anti-Obama blogs. But Mr. Langbert's blog is not, leading him to conclude that Obama supporters had targeted him.

On her right-leaning blog "Atlas Shrugs," Pamela Geller keeps a list of blogs that Google has temporarily blocked. "The blockings do come in waves," she said. "The last wave was this past week, and now it got very quiet."

Some writers have had their blogs unblocked, while others have moved them to WordPress, a rival blog host.

"I don't think" Google has "malicious intentions at all, it's just that spammers can literally overrun a service if you're not careful, so their defenses have become overzealous," a spokesman for WordPress, Matthew Mullenweg, said in an e-mail.

"We always have human review before turning off an active blog," he said. "People invest so much time into their blogs, to treat it with anything less than the utmost respect is criminal."


Two Google Apologies (h/t Phil Orenstein):

Google Apology

Spam Fridays

"While we wish that every post on this blog could be about cool features or other Blogger news, sometimes we have to step in and admit a mistake.

"We've noticed that a number of users have had their blogs mistakenly marked as spam, and wanted to sound off real quick to let you know that, despite it being Friday afternoon, we are working hard to sort this out. So to those folks who have received an email saying that your blog has been classified as spam and can't post right now, we offer our sincere apologies for the trouble.

"We hope to have this resolved shortly, and appreciate your patience as we work through the kinks."


You Are Not Spam

You knew that already, and now we do too. We have now restored all accounts that were mistakenly marked as spam yesterday. (See: Spam Fridays)

We want to offer our sincerest apologies to affected bloggers and their readers. We’ve tracked down the problem to a bug in our data processing code that locked blogs even when our algorithms concluded they were not spam. We are adding additional monitoring and process checks to ensure that bugs of this magnitude are caught before they can affect your data.

At Blogger, we strongly believe that you own and should control your posts and other data. We understand that you trust us to store and serve your blog, and incidents like this one are a betrayal of that trust. In the spirit of ensuring that you always have access to your data, we have been working on importing and exporting tools to make it easier to back up your posts. If you'd like a sneak peek at the Import / Export tool, you can try it out on Blogger in Draft.

Our restoration today was of all blogs that were mistakenly marked as spam due to Friday's bug. Because spam fighting inherently runs the risk of false positives, your blog may have been mis-classified as spam for other reasons. If you are still unable to post to your blog today you can request a review by clicking Request Unlock Review on your Dashboard.


Mike said...

obama is a piece of sh*t

Code Red said...

Hey Mitchell, glad your site is back up and running. Keep practicing your right to freedom of speech!

Just a note, if you paste the following code in your blog template just below the template name/description/author, etc. at the top, it'll remove the Blogger NavBar from your site and prevent the bastards from "flagging" you... Some people believe removing the NavBar voids your TOS with Blogger, but this is not true.

/* === Hide the NavBar === */
.Navbar {
display: none;
/* === Hide the NavBar === */

Here's the link for more info on the code above if you have questions: Remove NavBar

Mike's America said...

Glad you are back online!

Mitchell Langbert said...

Thanks to you all. Let's try to be as tolerant as possible although I agree it's obamanably difficult!

Miss Adventures said...

Just a little taste of his presidency, wasn't it? Just think of his power when he's got the full meal. Time for a revolution?