Some WorldNetDaily readers should be burdened with fewer spot blockages in the future because of a decision by a significant player in the industry of filtering Web content to adjust its algorithms to allow access to the reporting and commentary of the Internet’s leading independent news site.
WND has been subject to the spot blockages in recent weeks – on state and federal Internet systems as well as on corporate systems – that variously have refused a reader’s access to the site because of “Hate” or “Violence.”
But officials with ContentWatch.com, which is a significant operator in the filtering industry, confirmed to WND they have altered the way they evaluate websites’ content, and reject objectionable URLs while allowing access to legitimate ones.
“We have reviewed the rules that drive this algorithm and made some modifications,” Scott Cleghorn, chief operating officer for ContentWatch, a privately held company, told WND. “Clearly, you’re a news site. We’ve gone through and better understood your content, and made some adjustments to our engine.”
Snapshot of American Airlines’ Admirals Club showing WND blocked for ‘hate speech’
The problem reached a focal point recently when a WND reader reported he was blocked from accessing WorldNetDaily.com from an American Airlines’ Admirals Club facility in Houston.
American Airlines officials worked with ContentWatch to have the ban removed right away, but ContentWatch officials then took on the job of figuring a way to allow access to the news report, while not opening up its filters for objectionable materials.
Cleghorn told WND with the changes made, the blocking problem should not be happening again. He said the actual blocking recently had been triggered by a number of stories that mentioned Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Abbas, al-Qaida and Israeli solders in close proximity.
“I don’t know that I see the density of those topics on other sites,” Cleghorn said.
His company reviews sites and web pages based on confidential algorithms that have been developed, rather than just picking a list of Web addresses for approval – or rejection.
A similar problem also triggered a reader from Montana to notify WND of a block in the Montana state government computer system. State officials confirmed they contract with SurfControl, another filtering company, to provide limits on what employees can access on the Internet from their state work stations.
The Montana reader said state policy allows “employees to use state computers to access the Internet for personal use during lunch hours and before and/or after an employee’s work hours.”
“We appreciate you folks so much. Our local newspaper and television [are] very liberal, and it has been a tremendous blessing to us to find sources of news, information and opinion that we can trust,” said the reader, who reported finding WND several months earlier and making a habit of reading its news through lunch.
State spokesman Adam Penway confirmed that SurfControl handles the filtering for the state’s Internet system.
That company also confirmed recently to WND that it had inappropriately classified a WND address as banned, when in fact it should not have been. The company said it probably happened when WND files were being maintained and moved to another server on which objectionable material was located.
Susan Larson, vice president for the Scotts Valley, Calif., company said the WorldNetDaily.com location remained open, but the WND.com address had been blocked.
In such situations, her company unblocks the non-offending address, and that becomes available to consumers on the Internet within about 48 hours, she said.
Two concerns also have been raised by WND readers at the federal government’s Hanford Site, where plutonium for nuclear weapons previously was processed. The site now is being cleaned up from four decades of Cold War weapons work.
A reader reported a block on WND was lifted after a few days, and a spokesman for contractor Fluor Hanford, where a second reader noted a block, said it also was gone.
Geoff Tyree, a Fluor spokesman, said there are some computers on which Web access is restricted to job-related information by union contract, but the WND site was readily accessible elsewhere.
“It is not blocked on a general site basis,” he said.
Screen snapshot from Hanford computer, showing WND blocked
The earlier concern was from a worker at another Hanford division, but Eric Olds, a spokesman for the Department of Energy site, told WND the website is available on site computers, although it could have been blocked temporarily.
“I can tell you I actually tried two or three times and had no problem getting to this site,” he said. “I’ve had stuff blocked before by our own firewall. There are sites with content that employees should not be looking at and those do get blocked.”
As a federal facility, he said, computer access probably is more restricted than at some other locations.
It was in just in recent weeks WND finally resolved a blocking situation involving the military provider that makes Internet services available to U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine bases worldwide.
The blocking was confirmed by a contractor that runs much of the Internet service functions for the U.S. Marine Corp and the U.S. Navy.
Barbara Mendoza of EDS marketing strategy and communications said the block that prevented WND readers from accessing the site through the Navy Marine Corps Internet, serving bases in those two military branches, was within the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command government Website.
The U.S. Navy had launched an investigation into the issue of blocking WND’s site at WND’s request after the news site got a flood of e-mails from readers who saw various messages that the site was being blocked.
It eventually was determined that an undefined “security” issue between the web-hosting location that WND uses and the Navy computer existed, and later was resolved.
WND, a fiercely independent news site, was launched 10 years ago by Joseph and Elizabeth Farah, and for more than 100 weeks in a row was listed as the No. 1 most popular website in the world by Global 100.
WND has also been consistently ranked by several major Internet ratings agencies as the “stickiest” news site on the Internet – meaning readers average more time on it than any other.
By WND’s own traffic counts, the site attracts about 6 million “unique visitors” (meaning different people) every month. It attracts between 50 million and 60 million pageviews per month.