Viewpoint and opinion
Welcome. The purpose of this page is to express my
own personal opinions regarding GeoCities* Corp. and its ideology and policies,
to explain that I feel the company is misguided in its use of its power
and explain why I feel this way, and to offer constructive criticism and
suggestions I feel would improve GeoCities and benefit the Internet community
as a whole. It is also a resource for those who have been censored by GeoCities
(GeoCensored), and home of the unofficial GeoCensored
Censorship is and will continue to be a hot topic
of debate to the Internet community. As such, the opinions I express may
differ from yours, and you may choose to disagree with me on this topic.
If this is the case I am open to criticism, differing viewpoints and alternative
opinions, but please keep in mind that you are under no obligation to read
or agree with anything on this page; I encourage all readers to make up
their own minds and come to their own opinions regarding censorship. But
before I begin, I would like to make very clear what the purpose of this
page is, and what it is not.
This page is:
This page is not:
My personal opinions, based on my upbringing as well
as my own moral beliefs.
A resource for those who have either already been
censored by GeoCities or may be in the foreseeable future; using the stories
and observations of present and former GeoCities members to provide a real-time
index of what is being censored under its domain and on what grounds.
Intended as constructive and healthy criticism, offering
a base of support for those who feel similarly disappointed by GeoCities
and its current policies, as well as suggestions for change and improvement
of its policies, TOS and actions.
To inform the public of GeoCities' policies, actions
it has taken against its critics (including legal harassment), and anecdotal
evidence of the lengths GeoCities has gone to in order to keep quiet any
Intended to provide guaranteed facts, stats and other
information. While I will make every effort to verify any information before
posting it, this page relies heavily on anecdotal information and accounts
of events (such as homepage deletions, deletion notices, threats, etc.)
submitted by readers who have had these experiences. I must rely on the
honesty of these sources; while the vast majority possess such honesty
I cannot guarantee the accuracy or validity of any account.
Intended to slander, defame, disparage, or otherwise
anger GeoCities Corp., its members, its employees, or its advertisers.
The mad ramblings of a disgruntled ex-member. This
is not to say I've had no experiences with GeoCities; they have had this
page removed from their own systems as well as crosswinds.net. (I expect
this list to grow, which will only serve to verify GeoCities' standpoint
on censorship.) But this page is intended as an informative, intelligent
and well-thought expression of my views, rather than a 'flame' or baseless
hate page of any kind.
Why do I believe GeoCities' excessive censorship
practices are misguided?
GeoCities does censor, and censors a lot. This much is not in debate. But
what I must ask myself is, "Why?" Do they censor information on illegal
activities to discourage people from breaking the law? Do they censor to
protect children from indecent materials? Are their motives for removing
pages from its own servers pure?
Yes and no.
GeoCities does remove pornographic materials. While I personally see
nothing wrong with artful nudity, there is always the potential that a
page will give no warning that it contains such materials, and someone
who may easily be offended may unknowingly stumble across it. Pornographic
material is expressly prohibited by the GeoCities Terms
Of Service. GeoCities will also remove 'warez', pirated or illegal
software distributed without authorization. I applaud such a deletion,
as software piracy is essentially a robbery of the authors who have put
their time, money and effort into writing the software. But...
does remove a myriad of other materials, all too often without notice or
reason. Where I begin to question GeoCities' motives is where they begin
censoring materials that are not offensive or morally objectionable in
any way but simply do not serve their better interests, such as pages that
speak critically of their company. I have myself seen it many times. Any
criticism of GeoCities, its policies, its intentions, it advertising, its
sponsors...it will be removed. Beyond that, any opinion that GeoCities
does not share can conceivably result in termination of the offending account;
I will explain how below. GeoCities also removes informational materials
that could conceivably be used for 'naughty' purposes, such as information
on assembly-language programming and disassembly (which can in theory be
used to disable copy-protection on commercial software), any information
remotely related to hacking or cracking, information on security flaws
in computer systems (such as the Windows 95 TCP bug exploited by 'Winnuke')
or how they can be discovered, checked for or exploited.
How they go about censoring their own members, for posting materials
that are unapproved-of but not against the TOS:
Have you ever been fired from a job because of
who you are? If so, you were probably let go for something the boss called
'insubordination'. This word has no formal definition in many work environments,
and even where it does, the term is so broad as to be meaningless. It is
the term used when the boss can't really tell you why you're being fired.
Basically, it means he can dismiss you because he doesn't like your gender,
race, or religion. Web censorship? Same thing, only the terminology is
a bit different. There are several major catch-all terms a web host can
use as bases for claiming a TOS violation. The three that follow are defined
in GeoCities Content
Guidelines so loosely, if at all, they can mean almost anything a GC
censor wants them to. The Geo Catchalls are:
What is nude? How much of a person must be covered
for a picture to be in line with acceptable standards for your provider?
What if it isn't a person at all? Is a dog standing on its hind legs pornographic?
An image of one of Michaelangelo's sculptures? Is a line-art drawing showing
a butt-crack pornography?
Content that can be deemed obscene, profane, or perverted
Again, who is to say what qualifies as obscene?
A frank discussion on human sexuality? A mild expletive or two? Advocating
or nudism? An editorial on violence in which this violence is described
in detail? Since there is no written definition, censors are free to decide
what qualifies as unacceptable. For example, an anti-Semite censor could
squelch a Holocaust page citing graphic violence (holocausts tend to be
that way), and even an image of a woman eating a banana could possibly
be deleted as 'perverted' based on the perceived Freudian symbolism of
By far the content restriction with the greatest
potential for abuse, 'defamation' can refer to anything that speaks
negatively of any group or individual. It is human nature to have things
you like and dislike, and many persons tend to discuss these on
their personal homepage. If a censor disliked you for some reason, it is
very likely that they can find some content on your pages that do
not speak favorably of something. For example, by putting the phrase "Adolf
Hitler was an unkind person" on your page, you may have already commited
a violation of your host's TOS or acceptable usage guidelines.
What about removing pages from other peoples' servers?
Here is another major objection I have with GeoCities censorship policies.
The company is not content to merely censor its own members, but feels
it necessary to censor others' as well. To squelch criticism, GeoCities
has followed critics around the Web, tracked them down, threatened, and
otherwise harassed them and their ISPs and Web hosts. GeoCities has in
the past threatened legal action against those that dare host any critic.
I am not making this up. This very page was removed from crosswinds.net,
a Canadian free Web host, within 48 hours of its posting. GeoCities
actually *called* Crosswinds* on the phone, claiming that the term 'GeoCensored'
was a trademark of GeoCities, and threatening litigation against myself
and/or Crosswinds for trademark infringement upon the GC company name,
copyright infringement of their company logo on my GeoCensored
Web Ring graphic, and libel. For the record, I sincerely doubt that
'GeoCensored' is a trademark. GeoCities is, but not GeoCensored. Even if
it was, the only purpose it would serve is to squelch criticism, and there
are legal sanctions prevent using litigation or legal threats, abuse of
trademarks, etc. to silence their critics. Finally, the 'GeoCensored' logo
is not a copy of the actual GeoCities logo but a parody of it. Such material
is expressly protected under the fair
use provision of United States copyright law.
I know, this may sound like a joke. "Who can dictate to other Webmasters
on other servers what is and is not acceptable for the Internet community
at large?" you may ask. Shortly after GeoCities forced crosswinds.net into
revoking my account and deleting this page, I received an email from Bill
Webb, another victim of GeoCities' strong-arming on other servers. He writes
to me stating that his account on another free-hosted server (members.xoom.com)
was similarly revoked and actually locked out to prevent reactivation.
Webb has actually received email from concerned citizens asking, "How
does Geocities keep finding your page?". According to an email I received
from Crosswinds, the Xoom removal was for joining my ring.
|"I spoke to Geocities again, and the other providers that had pages
of the GC webring. All of the other pages have been removed and the
Webring is about to be deleted."
Xoom has so far made no comment nor replied to any inquiries regarding
this deletion. www.webring.org did not see fit to remove the ring; it is
still active and very much alive.
Do they do it merely out of spite?
Possibly. For the aforementioned (Webb's) removal, this certainly
did seem to be the case. Aside from the webring, there was little else
on the huge computer-jokes site that would irk GeoCities other than an
it is a matter of public image, both for the inflated egos of the all-powerful
GeoCities gods (who obviously have the divine power to effectively control
portions of the 'Net far above and beyond their own) and for their image
to potential advertisers. That's what I think it all boils down to. If
you look for criticism about any other free Web host, most all of whom
pay for their services by selling advertising on members' pages, you will
large pop-up ad windows on its members."
doesn't give enough space."
is overloaded and sometimes maddeningly slow."
But look for criticism of GeoCities, and you will turn up largely empty-handed.
Believe me, I've looked.
If you are a potential online advertiser, you would want to advertise
on the most popular sites, and the ones most universally liked by the public.
Suppose every homepage you visited, as this potential advertiser, strongly
rebuked and criticised the company you were originally planning to advertise
on. Wouldn't you have second thoughts? When there is a significant amount
of disappointment, disapproval or out-and-out hatred of the company, it
becomes unappealing to advertisers as the 'bad image' may rub off or adversely
affect their business. When GeoCities began its own pop-up advertisements
without forewarning users, a number proposed and later organized a boycott
of all companies who advertised using the pop-up window ads. (A major concern
Web browsers to crash.) But look for any mention of these boycotts
or other negative opinions of anyone connected with GeoCities; you will
not find it. It has been stricken from the records, the windows have been
wiped, the book of days has been burned.
What do you suppose should, or can, be done about it?
That's a tough one. Pages like this that expose the darker side of
this company's internal policies, even as few others dare, is a small start.
If more GeoCensorship victims posted their stories to newsgroups (alt.censorship
and alt.conspiracy are a good place to start) it would be even better.
If more people were to join webrings such as the GeoCensored
Ring and others, perhaps GeoCities would give more careful consideration
before blindly using their brute force to pressure critics into biting
their tongues and Webmasters into removing these pages, often under threat
of lawsuit. Strength in numbers is a wonderful thing to have on ones side.
I have a number of proposals for GeoCities:
First, I would sincerely hope that you will decide to open your minds a
little to opinions you do not necessarily share, be they on freedom of
speech, advertising, sexuality, culture, religion... when censoring any
page, please ask yourselves what agenda the deletion will serve; whether
it will be for the benefit of the Internet as a whole or merely to boost
your own revenues and egos.
Second, I urge you to calm down and go easy on the hatred. Spite is not
an acceptable reason for removing any homepage, whether or not you host
it; nor is harassing the creators of any online materials. Furthermore,
your obvious propensity for chasing and continuing to harass those you
have had less-than-stellar relations with in the past is simply unacceptable.
Finally, I request that GeoCities stop trying to censor material on
other peoples' servers. You are not the nanny of the Internet. No matter
how much it may annoy, anger or otherwise displease you, there will always
be materials on the Internet that some may find inappropriate or offensive.
However, it is not your duty to decide for the rest of the Internet community
what is and is not acceptable. This includes criticism of your company.
Some questions that have been thrown my way, and
my answers to them
1. "You appear to claim that it is wrong for GeoCities to ban anything,
that it is wrong for them to make judgments....Trying to a spell out exactly
what is banned is dangerous, because someone will always find a loophole."
I do not believe, specifically, that it is wrong for GeoCities to ban
anything--Pornography, pirated software, multi-account users... there are
plenty of good reasons to delete a page or revoke an account. All I'm saying
is that the criteria used to determine when a page is/isn't appropriate
are very loose and subjective. I am also, by attempting to acquire and
post information on recent deletions, trying to provide a current index
of what is and is not being censored at this point in time.
2. "You said that you set this page up in /WestHollywood because
that's where the most censorship was on geocities, also you mention anti-Semitic
censors ....do you believe that they [GeoCities] specifically do actually
treat gays differently, or that they discriminate against any groups?"
(In reference to my original page on GeoCities)
I believe that, with their current TOS Agreement (which I believe is
much too loose), there is much potential for abuse of its generalities
and loopholes. I do not believe that GeoCities encourages or even
condones racism or discrimination; in fact, they are explicitly forbidden
by the TOS. However, I feel that any company can unknowingly hire
someone with such a bent, and, if left in charge of the Delete key, these
individuals could potentially abuse their power as a censor to serve their
own malevolent interests. With a more explicit TOS that specifically states,
point-by-point, the meanings of such terms as 'Perverted', 'Obscene', 'Violence',
'Profanity', 'Defamation', and other vaguities, the potential for such
abuse would be greatly reduced. Again, I must reiterate that I believe
GeoCities is firmly against discrimination and prejudice, and during my
several months' stay at GeoCities, I did not note that censorship was confined
to any sort of minority or other group. As far as censorship goes, GeoCities
is an equal-opportunity offender.
Censorship-related Webrings I belong to
Actually, I am the creator of this first one, the GeoCensored Web Ring...
if you have or feel you may be censored by GeoCities Corp. or simply feel
strongly about censorship, please feel free to join. Joining the ring is
a way to protest heavy-handed censorship policies such as those of the
aforementioned, as well as reinforce the fact that people do have strong
feelings regarding this issue; abuses of the freedoms of the general public
will not, and should not, be tolerated or allowed to continue unquestioned.
This ring nearly ceased to exist when GeoCities apparently contacted
www.webring.org claiming that it infringed upon their copyrights/trademarks...
From what I have learned the accusations were, basically, a bluff. I showed
the Webring logo to a lawyer and explained the situation, and he explained
to me that it was nothing more than a scare tactic to pressure the owners
of the Webring system into removing the ring to serve GeoCities' better
interests. I applaud Webring.org for standing up to these false accusations
and disregarding GeoCities' baseless prattle.
The next is the Banned Sites ring, which is for the victims of censorware--software
programs that automatically block sites as 'inappropriate' by domain, classification
or keywords, among other criteria...
site has been banned by one or more of several Internet Filtering Software
Packages. Why not look at another and see if you agree with their choices?
Site Owned By: Mark
Site Banned By: Several keyword-based filtering packages,
which find words such as 'nudity', 'violence', 'holocaust', 'obscene' and
'perverted' on this page, interpret this page as offensive and block it.
Site Censored By: GeoCities, for the criticism of
their censorship policies.
one before | the
one to come | jump
around | see
Learn more about Banned
The Lucid ring is for rambling, ranting, emoting and expressing oneself
in any number of ways.
of Sites Lucid
The GeoDelete ring is for those who have been suspended or deleted by
GeoCities--similar to the GeoCensored ring.
Finally, the MPASN/GeoShities Boycott ring in intended for just that,
participation in a boycott of GeoCities. Sadly, it would seem that threatening
GeoCities' bottom line is the only way to encourage them to listen to reason.
I wouldn't normally consider mine a site that would be prone to receive
awards... but it got one anyway. Here is GeoShities' Informative Site of
the Year Award (1999). This award is given out only once a year to the
website that helps keep people well informed on what's going on with GeoCities.
GeoCities Censorship Index
What GeoCities is currently
censoring under its domain
Current content that is especially prone to deletion
includes most any GeoCities criticism, especially regarding advertising.
Discussion of a new GeoCities policy that requires members under the age
of 13 to sign up for GeoPlus or edit their member profiles, or else have
their GC account and homepage terminated. Any pages using or even mentioning
the <NOSCRIPT> tag (or admonishing users to turn off their browser's
hot items in the Geo Bit Bucket.
Criticism of a new GeoCities "watermark" program
that involves a floating GeoCities logo in the lower-right corner of your
browser window. Any content or action (email, etc.) that may "incite people
to leave GeoCities" or incite other unwanted behaviors such as boycotts.
Currently, criticism of the "watermark" is also being censored on the GeoCities
help and discussion forums.
Previous censorship victims
Links redirected to new site
location where possible
URL unavailible) - an apparently politically-motivated censorship
of a page on socialism and anarchy, removed by GeoCities for alleged "Illegal
- Deleted for information about the Webmaster's experiences with a large
bank that treated him maliciously.
- No info avail.
URL unavailible) - Deleted from Xoom, a GeoCities competitor,
for a criticism that involved some profanity and an "Anti-Geocities Ring".
(Too many to list)
- Suspended or revoked for complaining about the "watermark" or urging
others to leave GeoCities, or to 'fight back' by complaining to Geo or
- Alleged trademark infringement for posting an editorial that was critical
of GeoCities (hmm, that sounds familiar...)
- Complaints about Macintosh-brand computers; a "Macbashing" site
- Mentioned GeoCities 'GeoPop' ads' likelihood of crashing your
URL unavailible) - Created an anti-GeoCities webring called
GeoPissed (we all know what happens to webrings GC doesn't like...) and
complained about frequent disk crashes on the GeoCities servers.
- Repeat censorship of /Siliconvalley/Lakes/5397 , for a humorous criticism
of GeoCities popup ads and membership in my GeoCensored
- Repeat censorship of this page , for criticism of GeoCities
censorship (alleged libel & trademark infringement)
- This link looks familiar...it's the former home of this very page.
- No info avail.
- Contained content related to streaking and nudity, but no nude pictures.
- Organized a boycott of a GeoCities advertiser for sending UCE ("spam")
to members, also detailed the use of the <NOSCRIPT> tag for eliminating
pop-up advertisements and posted a link to an anti-GeoPop page.
- Contained a joke that could sound obscene or perverted if one stopped
reading before the punch line.
- No info avail.
- No info avail.
- No info avail.
Please take special notice of the fact that several of these
sites, especially the more recent censorship victims, were not even on
a GeoCities server at the time of their forcible removal. Let's think about
Resources / Similar sites on GeoCensorship
- A humorous parody of the GeoCities homepage a la Nazi Germany.
- About GeoCities censorship and homosexual content.
- More on GeoCities censorship.
I understand that this page is controversial in nature, and bears a
sharp criticism of its intended target. But there is nothing wrong with
it, legally or otherwise, and although nothing should stand in the way
of my expressing these opinions, something
probably will, as has been evidenced by the past. It may be claimed that
what is expressed herein is inaccurate or untrue and thereby libellous;
however, any further attempt by GeoCities to censor this page can only
serve to assert its validity.
The Web is a relatively new medium, and as such
the rights, responsibilities and liabilities of its members have yet to
fully evolve. Censorship and free speech especially are in a state of constant
flux. Until the details have been ironed out, I sincerely hope that
the major players of the Internet will act in a manner that promotes, not
limits, the rights and freedom of the Internet community for the benefit
Proud supporter of free speech online
This site suitable for all audiences.
*GeoCities is a trademark of GeoCities Corporation. Other trademarks
are the property of their respective holders.