GeoCensored
Viewpoint and opinion
Mark Zeman
 
 
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 Web Ring.
 
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:

 
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...
 
GeoCities 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 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 opinion about their Javascript pop-up advertising. But mainly, I think 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 find it:
    "Tripod* forces large pop-up ad windows on its members."
    "Angelfire* doesn't give enough space."
    "Crosswinds* 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 was that the Javascript-based advertising windows may promote 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:
   
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."  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)
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.
 
GeoCensored Web Ring
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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...


[CENSORED] - Free The Net!This 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 Zeman
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.
the one before | the one to come | jump around | see more
Learn more about Banned Sites
 
 

The Lucid ring is for rambling, ranting, emoting and expressing oneself in any number of ways.

Next Previous Random Index of Sites Lucid

The GeoDelete ring is for those who have been suspended or deleted by GeoCities--similar to the GeoCensored ring.

 
 
This unhappy site owned by Mark Zeman is a member of the GeoDelete Webring. 
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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.

  

Geocities.com Boycott Presented by the Modern Pirates Anarchy and Socialism Network and GeoShities
geoboycott.jpg (11821 bytes)
This Geocities Boycott: Fight for your 1st Ammendment Rights site owned by Mark Zeman
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Awards
 
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 JavaScript support) to get around GeoCities JavaScript pop-up ads are also 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 of GeoCities
Links redirected to new site location where possible
 
 
 
 
(GeoCities URL unavailible) - an apparently politically-motivated censorship of a page on socialism and anarchy, removed by GeoCities for alleged "Illegal activities".
http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Cove/3660 - Deleted for information about the Webmaster's experiences with a large bank that treated him maliciously.
http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/7366/ - No info avail.
(Xoom 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 its advertisers.
http://www.thegallaria.com/geocities/ - Alleged trademark infringement for posting an editorial that was critical of GeoCities (hmm, that sounds familiar...)
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Bay/6273/ - Complaints about Macintosh-brand computers; a "Macbashing" site
http://dibbs.net/~alapadre/indexc.html - Mentioned GeoCities 'GeoPop' ads' likelihood of crashing your Web browser
(GeoCities 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.
http://members.xoom.com/snicker1/ - Repeat censorship of /Siliconvalley/Lakes/5397 , for a humorous criticism of GeoCities popup ads and membership in my GeoCensored Web Ring
http://www.crosswinds.net/chicago/~geocensor/ - Repeat censorship of this page , for criticism of GeoCities censorship (alleged libel & trademark infringement)
http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Heights/5204/ - This link looks familiar...it's the former home of this very page.
http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/5097/ - No info avail.
http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Alley/4037/ - Contained content related to streaking and nudity, but no nude pictures.
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/5397/  - 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.
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9711/  - Contained a joke that could sound obscene or perverted if one stopped reading before the punch line.
http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/3236/ - No info avail.
http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Cavern/6842/ - No info avail.
http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/7633/ - 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 this.
 
Resources / Similar sites on GeoCensorship
 
 
http://HitlerCities.home.ml.org/ - A humorous parody of the GeoCities homepage a la Nazi Germany.
http://www.djg.w1.com/blackhole/ - About GeoCities censorship and homosexual content.
http://www.leatheronline.org/LO_005_Geo.html - More on GeoCities censorship.
 


In closing
 
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 of all.
 
 

 Blue Ribbon Proud supporter of free speech online
 
Mark Zeman
  



 
 
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