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[liberationtech] The Death of Independent Digital Freedom of Assembly?

Steven Clift clift at
Wed Apr 9 05:29:58 PDT 2014

As one of the last independent nonprofit hosts of online community
dialogue and civic participation in local communities, major email
providers in the name of fighting spam and spoofing are directly
impinging upon our freedom of assembly online.

This is a big big deal and part of why I proposed the Open Groups in
the Knight News Challenge on Internet freedom:


Just implemented a change which turns every post from a Yahoo member
to our mailling-list based platform into a poison pill causing bounced
messages that then disable mail delivery for perhaps hundred of our
users (on Gmail etc. because DMARC allows Yahoo to tells Gmail, etc.
to reject us). We are still assessing the damage, but we don't have a
budget for this!

Update: Yahoo email anti-spoofing policy breaks mailing lists

Yahoo Addresses a Security Problem by Breaking Every Mailing List in the World

It is ironic that Yahoo is doing this because every few months they
have a wave of security problems where people's hacked accounts are
used to post what looks like legit email to our forums and then that
causes Gmail and others to put more of our forum messages mistakenly
into spam folders and it put spam links on our website causing search
engines to like us less.


A number of months ago we determined that essentially anyone on
Hotmail,, MSN mail, etc. can't join our service without
whitelisting us in obscure settings. Email confirmations aren't
getting through. Our new Norbiton forum in the UK discovered that
despite us manually adding lot of particularly older net users, the
mail is blocked completely unless you white list your account. We
happen to have a Microsoft employee in the UK trying to help us get
off some mystery block list.


Gmail is streaky, but about a year ago they started directing far more
mail into people's spam folders (almost exclusively false positives).
As most of our users are on Gmail, missed messages totally confusing
people as some receive messages and others wonder if they missed part
of the dialogue. Gmail also introduced tabs which made our forums less
visible to users. Location matters. Like the Facebook Page reach
decline, will we be given the "opportunity" to pay for our messages to
be more visible in mailboxes some day?

Big picture - if we are forced to host on Facebook Groups, Google
Groups, etc. and abandon our open source, creative commons,
syndication approach (we syndicate posts into Facebook Page and
Twitter because we have that freedom), in order to reach and connect
our communities for democratic participation the freedom of
independent assembly and innovation will be dead.

Steven Clift -
  Executive Director -
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

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