Yahoo-Kimo panned for blog closure

By Loa Iok-sin And Hsieh Wen-hua  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Sat, Nov 29, 2008 - Page 2

A former Yahoo blog user nicknamed “Black Jack” has accused Internet portal Yahoo-Kimo of violating his freedom of speech after his personal blog was shut down by the company on Nov. 21.

Black Jack, a 36-year-old man working in education, created a blog titled “Mango Daily” using the service provided by Yahoo-Kimo about two years ago.

Modeled on the format of the Chinese-language newspaper the Apple Daily, Black Jack’s Mango Daily published articles that promoted pro-Taiwan ideas and often made fun of pan-blue politicians. It soon gained popularity, with 2,000 to 3,000 visitors a day on average, Black Jack said.

However, Mango Daily apparently got into trouble earlier this month after Black Jack posted an article titled “The Battle of Zhongshan Bridge” on his blog.

The article appears to have been written by an unidentified police officer who participated in the mission to crack down on anti-China demonstrators trying to march to the Grand Hotel, where Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) was staying on the night of Nov. 6.

“We have common enemies — nothing is more important than the safety of our colleagues, so let’s point our guns outward [toward the demonstrators,]” the article read. “There’s nothing wrong in me beating you [demonstrators] up, because I’ve tolerated you for such a long time.”

“I was so shocked to see the article, so I posted the article on my ‘Mango Daily,’ and said ‘with police officers like this, why would we need enemies?’” Black Jack said in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times.

Soon after, the officer’s supporters filled Black Jack’s blog with threatening and humiliating messages. The officer also wrote on his own blog that “thanks to the ‘Mango Daily,’ now I know what ‘White Terror’ is.”

On Nov. 14, Nov. 15, and Nov. 21, “The Battle of Zhongshan Bridge” article was removed by Yahoo-Kimo administrators and an administrator shut down the entire Mango Daily blog on the day of the third removal of the article.

“I’ve lost more than 1,200 articles I wrote during the past two years in one go,” Black Jack said. “My articles criticizing [President] Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] and [late dictator] Chiang Kai-shek [蔣介石] have been removed by the Yahoo-Kimo system administrators before — this time my blog was completely shut down,” Black Jack said. “This is a serious violation of my freedom of speech.”

Many bloggers — 167 as of yesterday — have joined Black Jack in condemning Yahoo-Kimo.

Some have posted protest letters on their blogs, while others have written to Yahoo headquarters in the US, though no responses had been received as at yesterday.

A number of blog users have also decided to boycott Yahoo-Kimo.

Yahoo-Kimo denied Black Jack’s accusations.

The firm said in a statement that the system administrator removed the article from Mango Daily after receiving a complaint from the original author and notified Mango Daily of this via e-mail.

“As ‘Mango Daily’ repeatedly posted the article regardless of the warnings, we regret that the system administrator had to resolve to shutting down the blog,” the statement said.

However, Consumers Foundation chairman Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) disagreed with the firm’s view.

“Internet users do not violate the copyright of an author if he or she is merely quoting the work of that author, commenting on it and clearly states where the article has come from,” Hsieh said. “Even if Yahoo-Kimo considers the article inappropriate, it should only remove the offending article, not shut down the entire blog.”

After the blog was shut down, Black Jack relocated the Mango Daily to Blogspot, a service provided by Google, calling the site “Mango Daily — Google headquarters.”

Yahoo-Kimo reinstated the blog later yesterday.