WordPress Censorship?

I think I may have stumbled across a case of censorship on WordPress.  I didn’t want to believe it, but there seems to be no other explanation and so I document it here (hoping there won’t be further censorship if such is the case).  The question is who would be able to censor blogs in this manner.  I assume it would have to be programmed into the software which means there is some combination of words or tags that causes a blog post to not show up.  But why?  What purpose would such censorship serve?

It all started when I posted the following blog:

Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression

Posted on July 10, 2009 by Benjamin Steele

I noticed something which led me to investigate further and I made these comments in that blog:

I was looking at my blog statistics and I noticed that no one had viewed this post yet. Usually, when a post has this many tags it gets viewed right away.

So, I checked out some of the tags. There are more recent posts by other bloggers who have posted under the same tags and there blogs already show up in the tag listing. I didn’t check every tag out, but so far this post has yet to show up in any of the tag listings that I’ve looked at. This is highly unusual as a post typically shows up in the tag listings as soon as it’s posted.

It makes me wonder if blog posts that have certain sets of tags get held off the tag listings until they’ve been inspected by someone. Anyways, it’s highly suspicious considering the subject of this post. It could just be a glitch in the system, but if so it’s the first I’ve noticed it.

I made another interesting observation. I looked at the page for the tag “CIA”. It didn’t show my blog even though it showed other blogs with posts more recent than mine, but that wasn’t the interesting part. It only listed posts from the last day. Most major tags have endless pages of posts. It simply isn’t possible that nobody on WordPress has tagged a blog post with the term “CIA” before today.

Either WordPress is having some system wide glitches that are making posts not show up or there is systematic censorship.

There must’ve been a glitch at least for the CIA tag page because now it shows more than a page of posts. However, my post is still not showing up on any of the tag pages that I’ve checked. If it is a glitch, why is it not effecting other blogger’s posts?

Right now (9:44 pm, Friday, 7/10/09) I did a Word Press search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which gave this result:

0 results for Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression (0.03 seconds)

Search into posts comments

Your search did not match any blog posts. Whoa.

  • Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
  • Try different keywords.
  • Try more general keywords.

And I did a Google search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which on the first page gave these 3 results that mentioned my blog post in the blurbs:

Marmalade

Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression. Posted on July 10, 2009 by Benjamin Steele that the 1950s was merely a clear example of the entire Cold War era.
benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ –

Alphabet Agencies — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress

Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression. This post started out being about the paranoia that the 1950s was merely a clear example of the entire Cold War era.
en.wordpress.com/tag/alphabet-agencies/ – 16 hours ago –
 
  1. World War Ii — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress (from page 2)

    Cold War: Paranoia and Oppression · Benjamin Steele wrote 8 hours ago : This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the
    en.wordpress.com/tag/world-war-ii/ –

I click on the Google search link to my blog Marmalade and it shows my post.  But I click on the link to “Alphabet Agencies” in the Google search results and it brings me to the WordPress page which says:

Blogs about: Alphabet Agencies

Sorry, we don’t have any posts here with that tag. You may want to try one of the sites below.

And I click on the link to “World War Ii” in the Google search results and it shows a whole list of Word Press posts, but notice despite Google’s search results my post is no where to be seen.

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Update: I looked at the Word Press page for Censorship and this post showed up in the results immediately.  So, this post about the censorship of my other post shows up even while my other post continues to be blocked.  lol

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WordPress Censorship1 comment

Benjamin Steele wrote 11 minutes ago: I think I may have stumbled across a case of censorship on WordPress.  I didn’t want to believ … more →

Tags: Blogging, Blog Search, Google, Google Search, post search, Web Search, Word Press, WordPress, wordpress. com

Further Update: I copied verbatim my post “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” and re-posted it as “US Government: 1940s-90s”, but I left the original up as well.  The only things I changed were the title and the tags.  The original was still not showing up listed in Word Press tag pages, but the re-posting was.  Out of curiosity, I did a Yahoo search of both titles and a Google search of both post titles simultaneously with “OR” in between.  This search was about a day after re-posting which would allow the search engine web crawlers to find it.  There wasn’t any results from Yahoo and there was only one page of results from Google (see below).  Interestingly, there isn’t a single direct link to the re-posting in the Google results even though there are several indirect links to it.  I haven’t done a thorough investigation, but this seems like something typical of searches I’ve done in the past.  There apparently is a strange relationship between the search engines and Word Press.  I used to have several blogs from several hosted sites.  I’d post the same thing to each of them because I was testing them out in order to see which one I liked best.  I did like Word Press’ functionality the best, but one disconcerting observation was how the posts from the other hosting site would show up in the search engine top results while the Word Press posts didn’t always show up.  Why is it that when doing a specific search that Google gives me indirect links rather than direct links?

  • Blog: notes*: July 2009 

    And I did a Google search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which on the first page gave these 3 results that mentioned my blog post in the
    blogga-blognotes.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html – CachedSimilar
    US Government: 1940s-90s. Posted on July 13, 2009 by Benjamin Steele. This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the
    benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ – Similar

    Marmalade

    Jul 9, 2009 US Government: 1940s-90s · Benjamin Steele wrote 6 hours ago : This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness
    en.wordpress.com/tag/us-history/ – CachedSimilar
  • Blog: notes*: WordPress Censorship

    Jul 11, 2009 Right now (9:44 pm, Friday, 7/10/09) I did a Word Press search for “Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression” which gave this result: 0 results
    blogga-blognotes.blogspot.com/…/wordpress-censorship.html – CachedSimilar
  • recent results ku | Addictomatic 

  • US Government: 1940s-90s · Martin Luther King Jr.: Playboy Interview · Cold War Era: Paranoia and Oppression · Visions of Prescott, AZ
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  • 20th Century — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress

    US Government: 1940s-90s · Benjamin Steele wrote 8 hours ago : This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the 1950s.
    en.wordpress.com/tag/20th-century/ – CachedSimilar

    Us History — Blogs, Pictures, and more on WordPress  

  •  US Government: 1940s-90s. Posted on July 13, 2009 by Benjamin Steele. This post started out with my thinking about the paranoia and oppressiveness of the …
    benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/ – Similar

    The oddest result on the above Google search was Addict-o-matic.  I clicked on it and the site is about creating a personalized page that shows internet buzz.  It apparently was just showing an example page for the results for web links related to “ku”, but I have no idea what “ku” is.   The webpage had several categories including a section for Word Press.  It oddly has both versions of my post and apparently they somehow relate to this “ku” thingy, but also in that same section are some blog posts that don’t seem related to mine at all.  Anyways, this random webpage has direct links to both of my posts and yet none of the major search engines do.  How did the Addict-o-matic find my posts?

    Addict-o-matic — Topic: recent results ku

    WordPress.com

    9 thoughts on “WordPress Censorship?

    1. The truth is that I’m quite shocked. This is some pretty blatant censorship. It took me only a few minutes of research this afternoon to realize something was odd. I wondered about the possibility of censorship, but I wanted to be sure. So, I returned many hours later now to check it again and nothing had changed. In fact, the Google search just proved even more clearly that something was wrong with this situation.

      Now that is irony. I write a blog about various subjects including censorship and then that very blog gets censored. Is there no justice in the world!?!

      I’m not even really that much of a conspiracy buff. My curiosity in the subject is only mild, but this of course just makes me more curious. I did come across someone else who mentioned a blog disappearing on WordPress even though Google showed it in results. It makes me wonder how common this is.

    2. If this isn’t intentional censorship, then what kind of glitch could cause it? I’m trying to consider alternative explanations.

      I just went to Google search and now my blog doesn’t show up there either. Just a few hours ago, Google search showed my blog post and now doesn’t. And yet it still is posted. It hasn’t gone anywhere. What is going on? It can’t be a glitch because what kind of glitch would effect both Word Press and then somehow later effect Google.

      Just out of curiosity, I checked Yahoo and it shows my blog post. Also, it shows the same “Alphabet Agencies” tag page link which when clicked says there are no posts. I also tried Lycos, HotBot, Bing, and ixquick. None of them show my original post, but a couple of them show this post because it links to that post.

      So, Google did show it but doesn’t now. And besides Yahoo it’s as if my post doesn’t exist. You can only find it by going directly to my Word Press blog.

      If this ain’t censorship, there is something truly weird going on.

    3. I’m not sure what to think. I’m not the first person to question whether Word Press censors. There is a forum discussion about it, but nothing said there explains my experience.

      http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/wordpress-censorship?replies=15

      And there actually is a tag page for “WordPress Censorship” with 4 posts on it:

      http://en.wordpress.com/tag/wordpress-censorship/

      I don’t know if they relate to my issue, but I noticed some blog posts about the Word Press censorship issue that I found through a Google search.

      http://relationshaping.com/2008/03/censorship-or-tech-glitch.html

      http://crowdedheadcozybed.wordpress.com/2007/02/03/joseph-mccarthy-also-protests-wordpress-censorship/

      http://crowdedheadcozybed.wordpress.com/2007/02/04/the-effect-of-wordpress-censorship/

      http://udoj.wordpress.com/2007/02/04/in-the-event-you-thought-de-listing-was-a-minor-issue/

    4. I wouldn’t have taken the censorship interpretation too seriously if it weren’t for the web search angle. The fact is that Google and Yahoo did show my post as having originally been posted and showed it specifically being posted on the tag pages. So, my post must’ve been shown publicly for some period of time before it stopped being listed.

      So, what would cause it to be stop being listed? What kind of glitch could cause it not to be taken off of the listing? Considering the subject matter, intentional de-listing seems more probable. Whatever caused it to be de-listed happened within a few hours after I posted it.

      I have two options to explore the matter further.

      I could seek help from Word Press staff, but going by the forum discussion I don’t know what help they’d offer. And certainly the Word Press staff couldn’t help me figure out why my post was de-listed from the Google search.

      The other option would be to post it again and see if the same problem happens again. I could change the tags or use less tags. Maybe changing some factor might change the results.

      For now, I’ll wait and see if anything changes in its listing status on its own. It’s possible that it really is just a glitch. Maybe it being de-listed from Word Press caused Google to automatically de-list it.

    5. Now the Cold War Era post doesn’t show up in Yahoo search either. I’m assuming Word Press de-listing it causes the search engines to de-list it.

      It is strange how search engines work. My post has been posted the entire time and was never removed, but it’s practically invisible to any person who searches for it. Search engines don’t actually show you what is on the web. Going by various prioritizing settings, search engines may only show you a small percentage of what actually exists on the web.

      My post is only about a day old and search engines tend to prioritize newer info to a certain extent. When my post showed up on Google and Yahoo searches originally it was on the very first page and now it doesn’t show at all.

      • I didn’t leave a link on your post. I assume you’re talking about a trackback link which WordPress automatically leaves on any post that gets linked by someone else. I wasn’t intentionally linking your post, but I was simply showing the page of results from a WordPress tag page and you must’ve happened to have a post listed on that page. Sorry for the confusion.

        However, I have no idea why WordPress left the link to the Martin Luther King jr interview. I didn’t leave it. As far as I know, I’ve never even seen your blog before.

        As for the topic of this post, I suppose it might be shocking. I really don’t know what to think of. I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably is just some very weird glitch, but even if so it’s still a bit disturbing that a post can simultaneously disappear from listing on WordPress and from the major search engines.

      • Is what true? You mean WordPress censorship? When I first posted about it I thought it was a distinct possibility. Mostly, I was just confused and annoyed by the incident. I doubt anyone was intentionally blocking that post, but I still don’t know the reason. I’m more bothered by the fact that it disappeared from search engine results.

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