MySpace Atheist and Agnostic Group Restored

(sort of)

Submitted by august on Sat, 2008-02-02 10:41.

Atheists and Agnostics GroupWithout any official comment, MySpace restored the Atheist & Agnostic group that had perviously been deleted.  Apparently many of the regular contributors are still banned from the group, but the group is back–34,467 members strong.

There seem to be a lot of questions about this incident. To help clarify what actually happened, we’re reposting a couple of questions and answers from Bryan Pesta’s MySpace page.  Bryan is the owner of the A&A MySpace group.

Q1) How do you know the group was deleted for religious reasons?

A1)I have no smoking gun. I cannot produce any internal Myspace memo saying “crush the heathens”.

However, I assert that our group’s history up to its recent deletion (1/1/8) establishes a prima facie case that we were deleted for religious reasons:

Note first that I ran the group for almost 3 years, and was very careful to not violate any TOS.

We were deleted two years ago due to complaints from a group called the “Christian Crusaders.” They would search Myspace for profiles they found offensive, and then mass complain to customer service.

Their strategy was to send so many emails to customer service that someone, somewhere at Myspace would delete the profile or group.

It worked. They were able to get us deleted for a few weeks til myspace restored us (pre-news corp; Tom Anderson, himself posted to our group offering to protect us). The “Christian Crusaders” also got many other groups and profiles deleted, including a large pro choice group.

Three months ago, my account was hacked. The hacker took control of the group and renamed it “Jesus is love”.

It took almost a month of constant emailing to Myspace just to get them to restore the group. I lost my profile (3000 friends; dozens of blogs), and the hacker banned many regular users.

Banning on a Myspace group is oddly permanent / can’t be undone. So, I sent more requests asking Myspace to un-ban my regulars.

I got an email back– finally; after about 3 weeks of requests for help– saying “thank you for the information. We have scheduled the group for deletion.”

Literally 5 minutes later, the group was deleted. I think it’s ironic that Myspace’s response to my persistent and sincere request for help was to delete the group!

I hope that puts our deletion in context. Add to that, the biggest xtian group here was deleted not too long ago (post news corp) and Myspace Tom personally restored it.

Do I think Myspace is an evil atheist hating conspiracy– no. Do I think an agent of Myspace deleted my group because it was an atheist group. Yes.

I realize this is circumstantial evidence; but I think the case outlined above is strong enough to warrant my conclusion, and I am waiting to see if Myspace replies.

Q2) You realize that Myspace is privately owned; you have no right to free speech there; they can delete content at will?

A2) I do; but I think Myspace deleting atheist groups is equivalent to a restaurant refusing to serve minorities. Myspace provides a free service, yet it benefits tremendously ($$$) only because users provide content. As a for-profit, I suspect Myspace has some duty of equal protection to all members of protected classes. If Myspace deleted the largest African American group here, no one would tolerate that. Why should we tolerate it for any minority group?

I’m not trying to be dramatic. My experience is nothing like the typical civil rights violation, but I believe it is nonetheless a violation. I’m not sure where the line is drawn between trivial violations and ones-worth-fighting for. I personally think this one’s worth fighting for.

I feel our group had value; we helped give a misunderstood (and often despised) minority a sense of community. The fact that 35,000 people took the proactive step of joining the group (even if most never posted) suggests that it had value. The emails I got today from regulars and strangers suggests that it had value.

Personally, the three years I invested in maintaining the group (and the blogs on my deleted profile) had value to me. So, I think trying to get the group back is a rational investment of my time.

Further, I’m not asking for a march on the capital. I just want our group back. 


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