European Digital Rights, an organization dedicated to digital rights based in Europe, has instituted a “Silly Censorship” roundup in its bi-weekly newsletter this week:
Over the past few years it has become more and more frequent that) private companies get to decide what is “appropriate” or “inappropriate” online and what sort of Internet content we are allowed to access. Our rights to privacy and freedom of expression are increasingly put into the hands of arbitrary decisions of private intermediaries. Instead of a society where democratically elected governments enact laws which are predictable and testable in court, we have an increasing number of terms of service which result in banning of content, deletion of profiles and censoring of material that is deemed “inappropriate”.
Recently, we have noticed a flood of examples of bizarre corporate censorship that demonstrate the absurdity and comedy behind a very serious problem – the abandonment of the rule of law in exchange for corporate regulation of freedom of speech. To illustrate this phenomenon, we picked five of the most bizarre examples and launched the “Silly Censorship Week” on Twitter, where users could vote for the worst case, simply by re-tweeting their favourite.
According to the number of re-tweets, the clear winner and silliest censor is Apple, who censored the title of Naomi Wolf’s new book “Vagina” in the itunes store. While Apple had no particular problem in selling the book to make a profit, it did feel the need to protect its customers from the name. As a result, Apple decided to call it V****a instead and to replace the word throughout the book’s description. In reaction to this, the author asked on Facebook “Why is this theme so very very taboo — in a land of 24/7 porn and commodification of women??”
The Guardian: Naomi Wolf’s ebook covered up by Apple itunes http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/sep/13/naomi-wolf-vagina-apple-itunes-censors
Naomi Wolf’s comment on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/naomi.wolf.author/posts/388761331195124
And the next top 4 places are awarded to:
2nd Place: Apple is censoring the word “jailbreak” in iTunes http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/17/apple-is-censoring-the-wo_n_1524401.html
3rd Place: Nipplegate: Bob Mankoff expounds on why the New Yorker Cartoon department was temporarily banned from Facebook: http://nyr.kr/UFdwFw
4th Place: Apple bans Pulitzer Prize political cartoons from iPhone http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/04/15/mark_fiore_rejected_from_app_store/
5th Place: A mother was banned from Facebook for 7 days after posting a photo of her 5-year-old pretending to nurse her younger sibling http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/lauren-ferrari-banned-facebook-breastfeeding_n_1709928.html