While ‘free speech’ is something that goes down big in theory in capitalist heartlands like the United States, in practice the protestant heritage of the WASP elite in North America means that today’s online web 2.0 environment is in reality heavily censored. High-handed bans on platforms like Facebook, Photobucket and YouTube are well known and generate much commentary. To give just one notorious example, earlier this year Facebook removed the painting Ema by Gerhard Richter that had been posted on the platform by the Pompidou Centre to promote a Richter retrospective. Against such dumb-ass attitudes Matt Mullenweg of WordPress.com likes to pose as a libertarian defender of freedom of expression on Web 2.0. He’s even been quoted as saying: “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.”
You’d have thought then that unlike Facebook, Photobucket and YouTube, WordPress.com wouldn’t disallow ‘pornography’ in their terms of service. But check those terms and you’ll find that they do! Of course, like all those corporate sites that ban users from posting ‘pornography’, this is just a catchall term allowing WordPress to censor anything they like. One person’s pornography is another’s social critique and/or art. In the case of WordPress.com it seems they’ve banned what they brand ‘pornography’ on their free site in an attempt to driver users onto their paid for hosting services. Like WordPress.com’s use of ads on their ‘free’ site, this is just another capitalist scam (they’ll remove ads from you blog if you pay an annual fee)
And check out the messages sent to those running blogs WordPress.com disables: ” “If your blog is designed to promote affiliate links, get rich quick programs, banner ads, consists solely or mostly of duplicate or automatically generated material, or is part of a search engine marketing campaign, WordPress.com is not the place for you.” You’d think WordPress were living in the 19th century since it seems they’ve never encountered appropriation art and conceptual writing in all their unoriginality – nor understood the nature of their break with the old order of representation… Like the ban on ‘pornography’, the phrase ‘consists solely or mostly of duplicate or automatically generated material’ is designed as a subjective catchall to allow WordPres.com to disable blogs and thereby drive users off their ‘free’ service in the hope they’ll then cough up the dosh for hosting. After all, if WordPress.com genuinely didn’t want duplicate material on their site then they wouldn’t include a reblogging button on it would they! Ultimately WordPress.com censors nearly as much as Facebook and is just as stupid – both suffer from institutional puritanism despite their on the surface rather different agendas….. And this illustrates very well that there are no alternatives under capitalism!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!