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Friday, 08 July 2011 11:37

Apple censors Mobile Me posts

Written by Nick Farell


Can't say anything in Jobs' Land
Apple's attempt to turn the world into a disneyland have continued with the news that the outfit is censoring posts of users of its Mobileme system. We already knew that Apple had been filtering inbound emails as a precaution against spam since last year. But it now seems that the filtering has been expanded to cover politically difficult subjects. It is now also filtering of outbound messages sent via its MobileMe service.

Basically if you send a post which is potentially politically charged, Steve Jobs will block it. There have been reports of posts which talk about civil unrest in Greece being blocked. A thread on the problem has started here and seems to point that Apple has decided to go the way of China and censor all references to political debate. Not that we believe for a moment that many Apple fanboys are interested in politics. But if the filter accidentally banned Coldplay there might be a few riots.

Mike Conley thinks that Apple has some sort of trainable outgoing spam filter on its SMTP servers, and that this is blocking some messages and not others. Certain combinations of words and phrases will trigger a block, and minor changes to the text will allow the message to pass. He is fairly certain that there is nothing particularly nefarious going on is that Apple is incompetent. However the problem is that the sender has no idea the message has been blocked and the message is silently discarded.

“Apple has again engaged in its typical hamfisted, secretive, 'you need a Daddy' approach to dealing with its customers and I'm just heartily sick of it. I have my new domain and server space; my .Mac account will be going away in a few weeks, and that'll be that,” Conley wrote.

Of course Apple fanboys cannot believe that Jobs' Mob would do such a thing and have posted “it is not effecting me” type notes. One poster thinks that it must be happening on Internet servers between the gizmo and the receiver and nothing to do with Apple at all.

“I have one .me e-mail address, and 13 other e-mail addresses that don't use Apple's system. This happens on all of them occasionally. You can't blame Apple for problems that occur when sending e-mails through the complex collection of servers that forms the Internet. Sometimes things just get lost,” he wrote optimistically.

Apple is refusing to say what it is doing, or if there are any mistakes in its system, which many of the posters think is causing more problems than it is worth.

“This is one area where Apple's famous silent treatment harms all of us. I don't believe the company is deliberately censoring political content, but their mail abuse filters are clearly dysfunctional. They are irresponsible in not alerting the sender,” another user wrote.

 

Nick Farell

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