First, let me tell you that there were a LOT of racist and scary comments that I did *not* approve today. I almost approved the one that just said “I drink wee!” but then I came back. Sometimes it’s the little things.
…and The Webbie for Best Short Summary Of A Shitstorm goes to PCMag in Libya Seizes URL Shortener Vb.ly (pcmag.com).
If you’re coming to this blog, or this post, and want to get up to speed you can read this previous post where I explain in detail that the Libyan government took back a domain (vb.ly) that I had been running as a URL shortener for 13 months. They gave me no reason. Then, vague reasons. Then when I pushed back, they said it was because I was against the law — laws that are not on the registrar’s website, laws that are not anywhere in English, and laws that are even still being hotly debated on blogs, in comments and in media even still at this hour. These laws, the laws of Libya, were applied to my domain very late, and are not being applied to other .ly domains. (Well, I learned this has happened before, in the past 10 months, and then perversely offered back for sale to the original registrars).
CNet got every detail correct in Libyan legal issue takes down URL shortener (news.cnet.com).
Anyway, they said that a picture of me with my bare arms was illegal, my bottle of beer also illegal, and the words “sex positive” also, illegal according to the laws I was never shown, and were never applied throughout my first year of registration. They also said they tried to contact me to tell me I was in violation. I received no alleged communication. When I asked to see the communication they sent me, I was told I was running an illegal operation and that was that. I was also assured that they were sure the third party they asked to contact me to warn me had probably tried to contact me. Probably. Because they said so.
It’s all in the post.
Award for best and most educational comment thread, trolls notwithstanding goes to the item as discussed in Y Combinator / aka Hacker News (news.ycombinator.com). Anyone researching this should read the comments. Chilling effect, indeed.
No one tried to contact me. They took the domain without warning. The reasons are basically, because they said so. Unlike others, who had their .ly domains taken down swiftly for inappropriate content, I ran my link shortener for over a year. There was never any porn on the site — until someone decided to apply the extreme end of Libyan law — over a woman’s bare arms, and the very word “sex.” Because I said it was sex-positive, and not flatly “anti porn” is the dealbreaker between vb.ly and bit.y, they told me: but I guarantee you that there is far, far more porn coursing through bit.ly’s veins than vb.ly’s. They just don’t say anything about it.
Forbes listed the man first, and as the domain owner, but I’ll give that up because the article is great and states the issue openly in the headline: Libya Revoking .ly Domains That Don’t Adhere To Sharia Law (blogs.forbes.com).
And also, Libyan Spider seemed to be going through what they thought were the low-hanging fruit of short domains. As was pointed out, the short-domain “gold rush” had a lot of people buying cutsey .ly domains, and the Libyan Spider/Nic.ly resellers marketed to not just the world, but actively, direct to Western markets — look at their rep’s Twitter feed for examples.
This kind of head-on, between faith-based initiatives and the Internet, was inevitable. Did I see it coming? There have been a few told-you-so’s today, but reason states that those told-you’s should have come when vb.ly launched and got national press in the same week. Or a month later. Three months later. Six — or I should not have been reminded to renew my domain, and then been allowed to, and have the receipt in hand. It’s like a 5-second rule with told-you’s — or a wow, something’s not right here. You can now say “I told you so” when they take out bit.ly. Yeah, “it’s not Kansas, Dorothy” — but people today are honestly asking me where the porn was on vb.ly.
Amazing.ly it seems that Mitt Romney might just be a fan after all. Check out VB.ly, Bit.ly and Mitt.ly in danger? Oh real.ly? Trouble in .ly domain land. (voices.washingtonpost.com)
Either way, yeah, it’s their country and they can do what they want. As we see, they don’t even have to be fair about it. Their ball, they take it and go home. Say what you will about me: I wasn’t trying to “put one over” on anyone (and if I did, it sure lasted a long time and made a lot of people happy), but what happened here can happen to anyone running a business off of an .ly domain. Will owl.ly be combed for offensive language, unlawful images and condoning or encouraging “illegal practices” by not enforcing Libyan laws on user generated content? Will bit.ly be taken out for illegal activities for allowing — or just giving the side-eye — to porn URLs to be shortened? My question is, what is the takeaway here?
Can we expect even, or uneven, enforcement of Libyan law and its moral laws on all .ly domains?
Or just the one with the girl with the bare arms, and the words “sex positive” above her head.
Now knock back your omg she’s linking to those bitches tsk tsk because I’m saying it: Ryan Tate was the hammer in This ‘Obscene’ Image Led Libya To Shut Down an American Website (gawker.com). That was it. My right to bare arms was the final reason, and it should not be forgotten. He didn’t link to me, but that’s to be expected.
Thanks for listening, it’s been a long day. And to the person who asked why we went with an .ly domain in the first place, it was because we read and re-read all the rules in the Terms of both sites, and we were not in violation of any of the rules (nor could they point us to which rule on their websites that we’d violated in our first rounds of support tickets and service emails). They actually never provided me with the actual Libyan laws that had been broken nor a link to anywhere where I can read them.
Hey, so now we all know. Nothing.
Best email of the day: “you got libyan villains with excellent email writing skills, and you got to show what faith-based initiatives do to the web – love it”. I also got to introduce the term “sex-positive” to other cultures, notably Mitt Romney’s. I saw that as usual, a girl can be at the center of an absolute media category-five hurricane and still no one will link to her. I also saw that I can remain totally silent for 24 hours while the storm rages and still get called a “famewhore” in comments. Don’t make Julia Allison cry!
Best line was “Apparently the above picture of Ms. Blue showing bare arms, and holding a beer, was also deemed “offensive” under Libyan law.”
A sex-positive angel just got her wings. (technobuffalo.com)