Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' … By Blocking Access To Them Entirely

from the really dumb ideas dept

A small Idaho ISP by the name of Your T1 WIFI has decided to punish Twitter and Facebook for perceived “censorship” … by censoring them. In an email to subscribers posted to Twitter, the company claims it will be blocking customer access to both websites by default moving forward. To access the websites, users apparently will need to contact the company to be added to a whitelist:

While the company doesn’t specify what “censorship” its customers are complaining about, the complaints were likely driven by Twitter’s decision to ban Trump after he violated the company’s terms of services by inciting a fatal insurrection. Or perhaps they’re complaining about the steady purging of QAnon conspiracy theorists for espousing bogus claims of election fraud. Either way, the ISP claims to ingeniously be combating what they claim is censorship … by embracing the exact same thing:

“Our company does not believe a website or social networking site has the authority to censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you from seeing what your friends and family are posting,” the email states. “This is why with the amount of concerns, we have made this decision to block these two websites from being accessed from our network.”

There are ample problems here. The first being that “Conservative censorship” isn’t actually a thing. What hyperventilating partisans deem as “censorship” in our broken modern discourse is usually just Facebook and Twitter belatedly enforcing their own terms of service (which is different than censorship). While the platforms certainly do sometimes boot people for stupid reasons, more often than not such bans are simply the natural consequence of behaving like an asshole on the internet. Don’t want to be blocked, banned or limited? Don’t be an asshole on the internet.

The other problem, of course, is that there’s an endless parade of research showing that internet filters are stupidly expensive and don’t work. They’re usually easily bypassed with only a modicum of technical knowledge, and they pretty routinely result in collateral damage (aka the accidental blocking of legal, legit websites). In this case, blocking access to Facebook by proxy blocks access to all the systems Facebook ties into, including automated login systems. The end result is likely to be more of an avoidable headache than a real solution to a real problem.

I reached out to contact Your T1 WIFI, but their 1-888 number resolved to a woman’s voicemail box that didn’t even mention the name of the company. However, company owner Brett Fink spoke to a local CBS affiliate and contradicted his own company’s email by claiming they weren’t blocking anybody:

“In a phone call with KREM, the owner of the company, Brett Fink, again said the websites would only be blocked for customers who asked.

“We’ve had customers asked to be blocked by it. That is what the email was about, so no we are not blocking anybody, only the ones that have asked for it,” Fink said.”

Again, that’s not what the company’s own email to its subscribers states:

“Please let us know and we can add you to the allowed list to be able to not be blocked from going to these sites and the ones that do want to be blocked will have to do nothing they (Twitter and Facebook) will just not show up.”

So that certainly sounds like a DNS-level IP blacklist, which users have to call in to be whitelisted from.

Of course in the wake of the Trump net neutrality repeal this doesn’t run afoul of federal rules … because there are no federal rules. But it’s still a problematic, dumb idea and a slippery slope for an ISP to inject itself into the information stream in such a hamfisted fashion. With industry BFF Ajit Pai on the way out, and the Biden administration purportedly keen to restore net neutrality, it’s extremely unlikely any major ISPs would follow down this particular rabbit hole and draw regulatory scrutiny. Still, it should add some interesting … flavor to the debate when it inevitably heats up later this year.

Either way, engaging in blocking to protest “censorship” that isn’t actually happening isn’t a great look.

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Companies: facebook, twitter, your t1 wifi

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Comments on “Small Idaho ISP 'Punishes' Twitter And Facebook's 'Censorship' … By Blocking Access To Them Entirely”

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"Our company does not believe a website or social networking site has the authority to censor what you see and post and hide information from you, stop you from seeing what your friends and family are posting,"

…so we’re going to censor Twitter and Facebook so you can’t see what your friends and family are posting.

Absolutely brilliant. And so bloody typical of the MAGA crowd. Whatever. Let them wallow in it.


"We’ve had customers asked to be blocked by it. That is what the email was about, so no we are not blocking anybody, only the ones that have asked for it," Fink said."

Because just not going there your fucking self is just way too hard. I mean, I don’t ask my ISP to block Stormfront. I just don’t fucking go there.

Seriously, what’s wrong with these people? Because stuff like this is just odd.

Very odd.


Re: Re:

Well yeah, right? But this goes way beyond that. It’s akin to asking the GPS to never give you directions to KMart, because KMart’s the devil. (Not really, just for the sake of example)

There’s literally nothing that would compel these people to go to Facebook/Twitter apart from their own desire to do so. Are these people really unable to control themselves on a fundamental level like this?

And the ISP is fucking weird too. They can’t have more than a dozen or two customers because if for some reason Trump ends up back on Twitter, then they’d have to remove the blocks (or respond to the complaints).

This just seems like a monumental amount of stupid on both the ISP and the simpletons who are "asking’ for the blocking. This is not making for a compelling reason to ever visit Idaho.


Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:


We : Techdirt website and the part of its commentariat that isn’t despised.

You: Everyone else, especially users of a certain small ISP in Idaho…and you, since you don’t seem to recognize net neutrality without someone using the words.

This: A certain small ISP in Idaho reportedly making twitter and facebook access more difficult, thus violating net neutrality.


Re: Re: Re:

A charitable interpretation would be that they’re actually asking if Google and Facebook services including tracking and ads are blocked so that they can browse without accidentally funding those sites.

But, the likelihood of someone being a) tech savvy enough to understand that’s possible and b) thinks that it’s easier to demand the ISP do that rather than just install an ad/script blocker is fairly slim.


FBI lurking

The Channel sites proceed on the presumption that law enforcement (particularly FBI Cybercrime) is lurking, which is why the systems are set up to preserve anonymity.

This doesn’t stop individuals from outing themselves or betraying personal details that might narrow down where and who they are. It’s a source of comedy on those sites.

Also the old adage: _The internet! Where men are men; and women are men; and children are FBI agents!


Sounds familiar

"Or perhaps they’re complaining about the steady purging of QAnon conspiracy theorists for espousing bogus claims of election fraud."

I’ve heard a lot of bogus claims of election fraud lately. I remember this one group,for like four years, had this crazy conspiracy theory that Vladimir Putin hacked the voting machines and did a Face/Off-style identity switch with Donald Trump and was illegitimately ruling America from Moscow. I think the group called themselves "the mainstream media" or something. They’re still on Twitter and Facebook. Which is weird because we have this super-principled stand where we ban all people who espouse unfounded and baseless claims about elections in America. I’m sure they’ll be banned any day now,though,because surely you people
,who have assured us all that you are literally the smartest and best people in the world,aren’t a bunch of nutless,smarmy,self-important,retarded hypocritical dickheads who no one at all likes.


Mental health facilities

Here in the states, there are mental hospitals attached to penal complexes, but we otherwise don’t have special hospitals for people insane enough to commit crimes. Inpatients are given padded rooms only if they’re a threat to themselves. And are sedated when the nurses find them too annoying. Jeffrey Dahmer types are super rare.

For those of us crazies on the outside, on the rare occasion that someone is insane and wants to commit a crime, we have crisis councilors to talk them through the moment until they realize their plan is probably not such a good idea.

It’s like Suicide Prevention, except it’s also for I am going to stab my abusive boyfriend. or I am so filled with rage I am going to start a very large fire. Also Suicide Prevention volunteers aren’t trained for that stuff, or really, I’ve discovered, for people who are serious about killing themselves.

I seriously doubt Whitehat above is self-aware enough to get assessed, let alone diagnosed and treated. It means that when he does commit a crime on account of his… interpretation of reality, he will not be afforded the benefit of doubt that comes with diminished capacity and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

It’s a shame because he screams his indoctrination and radicalization, and probably should seek help before he goes and shoots up a church.

(Dan White and the reprisal from the Twinkie Defense made insanity pleas nearly useless throughout the US, even for those of us who have diagnoses.)


Re: Mental health facilities

Since you mentioned "in the states" I take it you are talking about the US. Here we do have non-penal mental health hospitals for people insane enough to commit crimes. It’s where we house those folks who commit crimes and will potentially go on to commit more crimes, but are unable to be charged due to their mental state. In other words, mentally unfit to stand trial.

I hope that clears things up a bit.


"mentally unfit to stand trial"

Oh, and among us serfs, we’re happy to try diminished capacity cases as if they were rational adults. If they get any treatment, it’s typically at a penal facility.

It’ll be interesting to see if Trump’s lawyers ever plead diminished capacity, and to watch how that’s treated by the court, given we like to go easy on aristocrats. Even traitorous ones.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: "mentally unfit to stand trial"

"If they get any treatment, it’s typically at a penal facility."

Well, to be fair most politicians knowledge of mental hospitals sprang from watching ‘One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest’. They may be living in chronic fear of big toilet-tossing native americans.

Or so I surmise. My alternative hypothesis – that the political will in the US to actually treat and rehabilitate the mentally ill is zero – is a lot less interesting and far more negative.


"We’ve had customers asked to be blocked by it. That is what the email was about, so no we are not blocking anybody, only the ones that have asked for it," Fink said."

LOL, the party of personal responsibility, everyone. They’re so weak-willed, they can’t just not go to a site of their own accord, they have to demand someone else make the decision for them.

That’s slightly better and less pathetic than them blocking it for everyone else, but not much.

Stephen T. Stonesays:

To credibly claim ?anti-conservative bias? in social media is an actual thing, someone must prove two notions are true:

  1. Punishment of conservatives happens only because of their political beliefs.
  2. That punishment follows a pattern of unequal, politically motivated actions that exclusively target ?right-wingers? but leave ?left-wingers? alone.

I wish the best of luck to those who want to try proving it. They?ll need it.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Consider the name of this ISP.

"Red flag right off the bat. One has to know it could only go downhill from there.."

To be fair, T1 is the technical reference to Tier One network backbone trunks. It’s implausible but not quite impossible that they strive to serve all their customers through something like a trans-atlantic cable.


Re: Re: Consider the name of this ISP.

It’s more likely that when the company was founded (in 1996 according to their website, which looks absolutely like it was designed in 1996!), T1 was a byword for a fast internet connection that could get you far faster speed than dialup and ISDN, so that’s what they called themselves. They just haven’t updated their branding in the time between then and now, where the speeds you can get on a T1 connection are fairly pathetic in comparison to fibre.


Re: Re: lies

Depends on what they mean by "conservative censorship". If they mean that conservatives are being censored purely because of their political beliefs and nothing else, then we certainly haven’t seen any evidence of that.

However, if they mean "raging assholes, bigots and insurrectionists are being banned, and they just so happen to all be conservatives for some reason", then yes there is evidence of that.

Our friends here don’t seem to be able to make the distinction, which is probably why they’re loudly whining about forcing platforms that don’t want them to host them against their will, rather take the introspective look and behaviour change that would keep them there naturally.


Re: Re: Re: Re: lies

Yes, and then if they don’t like that the people banned can use a service that wants them there rather than trying to force people to host them against their will.

What’s the problem here?

To counter that – go to any of the more notorious right-wing platforms and try posting statements in support of Biden. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get blocked.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: lies

"To a lot of people anyone who disagrees with them is a conservative/republican/raging asshole/insurrectionist/racist/nazi, and then they ban them for it."

To be fair, anyone who is a racist, nazi, raging asshole or insurrectionist probably should be banned from any private platform for refusing to observe the common rules of decency written in the ToS.
That’s no different than a bartender walking up to a patron who has spent the last fifteen minutes screaming about the global jewish conspiracy and showing them the way out and telling them not to come back.

I think you’ll find that most liberals are rather open to dissent as long as said dissent isn’t the long line of frothing hysteria and ad hom normally provided as sole argument by the alt-right, or a manifestly false fantasy story about how all liberals are servants of the satanist pedophile ring operating out of some pizza parlor.

There are no two sides here. Back before Goldwater and Nixon steered the GOP into the southern strategy; beginning that rapid erosion of moral and ethical values which led to the current septic tank full of scum and villainy…things were different. Arguments may have been heated but there was common ground and some civil discourse.

Now? You don’t even get to the table with the GOP unless you first agree to compromise away the concept of equality under the law and civil liberties. No debate can be had when the opposition’s bottom line is that every liberal should be hung for treason and Trump made lifetime King.


Re: Re: Re: lies

You have also checked ALL the underlying facts the article is based on, right?

I find the whole article a tad hypocritical since they accuse Twitter of being biased all the while being biased themselves. Plus, they didn’t provide the full context and information of what lead to Meghan Murphy’s ban from Twitter.

Essentially, Meghan Murphy behaved like an asshole and in this instance the person on the receiving end belonged to a protected group which got Meghan kicked off Twitter.

Funny that, every time we go down the rabbit-hole of "conservatives are being censored" we find assholes doing asshole things.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: Re: Re: lies

So let me see if i got this straight – your argument for the "anti-conservative bias" is exclusively based around cases where a raging asshole used Twitter to attack a protected minority?

That’s not an argument for the "anti-conservative bias".

It’s an argument that unpleasant assholes get thrown out of private property when they are being unpleasant assholes to the other patrons.


Re: Re: Re: Re: lies

"your argument for the "anti-conservative bias" is exclusively based around cases where a raging asshole used Twitter to attack a protected minority?"

That’s what they always are when you get into the meat of the details. Scratch below the surface of virtually any example they give, and you’ll find reasons why their example would have been kicked off no matter their political beliefs.

This is why they always whine about vague conspiracies rather than present solid examples, because even they know that their evidence is meaningless.


Re: lies

I agree, conservative censorship is a thing, conservative groups have been attacking popular culture as long as it’s been a thing, claiming it’s corrupting the youth. Conservative groups have been organising letter writing campaigns, protests and boycotts of celebrities and corporation for being even slightly edgy or left leaning all my life. I remember the satanic panic attacking heavy metal music and D&D of all things. I also remember attempts at purging the left from Hollywood by Joe McCarthy in the name of fighting communism, the attacks on left wing critics of America’s foreign wars in the 2000s even though their criticisms were based on the truth. I remember how we recently discovered a conservative at facebook was directing the site to lower the rankings of legitimate left wing news sites like Mither Jones, while boosting far right fan fiction like The Daily Wire. I also remember that they put Tucker Carlson’s site as one if their fact checkers because they would surely be fair and balanced… Yep.

And that’s without going into what the FBI and Police have dine to left wing protesters and groups and the many, many CIA backed coups and purges of the left around the world.

Oh wait, you mean censorship OF conservatives, not BY… Yeah, that’s not a thing. They ban bots, bigots and dangerous conspiracy theorists, you only have yourself to blame for them being so numerous on the right. You might want to try changing your policies to get more decent people and actual humans on board.


Examples? Evidence?

This is the point where the conversation ends: I ask for evidence that conservatives were singled out for conservative positions that are not also incitement or hate speech.

And usually that’s when the dialogue ends.

Because either conservative censorship is not a thing, or it is a thing because the conservatism in question is too spicy for Twitter (and for Amazon, Apple and Google), which suggests to me it’s at the seasoning level of 4chan/b or 4chan/pol.

But then you can go there and get your spicy vitriol, hate and incitement on. And your brethren will listen. In fact some of the greatest internet crowdsourced mischief started from those place.

So you’re totally not being censored, you’re just being sent to the part of the beach that is clothes-optional.

Scary Devil Monasterysays:

Re: lies

"Ridiculous. You know it’s a thing. We know it’s a thing. Liberals know it’s a thing. Why lie?"

Well, if by "conservative censorship" you mean that nazis and white supremacists aren’t allowed to use the N-word on facebook or holler about he global jewish conspiracy then it can’t be helped. There is definitive bias against nazis and bigots. Otherwise, not so much.

No one is going to censor a conservative for being against big government, in favor of less taxes, or advocating family friendly values. That’s just not what is happening here.
What is happening is far, far simpler. Most of the ones currently describing themselves as "conservative" are unable to utter any actual conservative views without self-reducting ad Hitlerum.

A few notable posters here, like seedeevee, restless94110 and Baghdad Bob Of Many Names stand out as good examples. I have never seen them even try to posit an actual argument which didn’t, at some point, reduce itself to "But Obama!", "Because Antifa!" or an exculpatory rant decrying that George Floyd only got what he deserved.

And naturally when they, or any of the other 74 million admirers of all things authoritarian, squat and squirt those opinions onto a Facebook or Twitter post, moderators swoop in.

Not anti-conservative. Anti-nazi. Anti-fascist. And ironically, given that they keep screaming about "leftists", anti-communist – because most of the "alt-right" arguments for freeze peach might as well have been lifted straight out of the communist manifesto.



The vector this plan would go is illustrated by the whole Net-nanny controversy, in which several porn-blocking offerings used the same database to block alleged child-unsafe sites.

Biology sites were delisted for talking about birds and or bees. (e.g. plant sex.)

Sites for kids meant to counsel young people regarding questions of human sexuality (questions, feelings, LGBT+ issues, etc.) were proscribed.

Bunches of incidental Scunthorp-type intersections were blocked, including many Disney and Nintendo sites.

Religions and countercultures out of favor (Muslim sites and goth sites) were routinely blacklisted. Also, encyclopedic information about fascism, satanism, communism (though not the Confederate States of America). Those were gone too.

Curiously, religious anti-LGBT kill the gays sites were not blocked as they were whitelisted by the company making the database. It turns out many net-nanny software offerings all pulled their lists from the same free database which was assembled by a subsidiary organization of one of the big Protestant Evangelical churches, and as such all Christian hate sites got whitelisted.

Eventually, netnanny software became a known farce.


Re: Re: Re:

Because the government decides who can be an ISP. You aren’t legally restricted from changing to another government licensed one like your cell provider but if the other choices don’t work for you (because they are all corrupt colluding aholes for instance), you can’t take out a loan and start your own ISP to prove them wrong and you right and save everyone from their corrupt hell (and no one else can either basically without gov permission). It’s a simplification of course, but the details don’t change the result


Re: Re: Re: Re:

Unless you find another way to connect to the internet that doesn’t conflict with their existing restrictions I guess without using any existing government funded infrastructure granted to the current providers or restricted frequency bands I guess like trying to blanket the country in fiber or peppering space with satellites but thats pretty much a pipe dream!


Doesn't this mean they're no longer telecomm providers?

Honest question: by looking at the traffic, doesn’t that alter the ISPs legal protection (under Sec 230 or otherwise)? i.e. some of the protection ISPs receive is sort of "don’t look, don’t tell" — e.g. they didn’t know drug trades were being arranged on their network, so they can’t be held responsible.

But isn’t this somewhat admitting that "yes, we DO know what’s going on on our networks" … thus opening themselves up to other legal issues?


Re: Doesn't this mean they're no longer telecomm providers?

… doesn’t that alter the ISPs legal protection (under Sec 230 …)?

Here is a link for 47 USC § 230. The statutory text is relatively short.

You’re encouraged to especially focus on subsection (c), while paying careful attention to the definitions of subsection (f). In particular, the definition of “interactive computer service”, within the LII interface, helpfully links to a popup in both paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection (c).

In both those paragraphs, note the unqualified language—

No provider or user of an interactive computer service…


Re: Doesn't this mean they're no longer telecomm providers?

No, since net neutrality protections have been stripped by Trump’s corrupt FCC pawns, there’s no penalty for doing anything with the traffic. Section 230 has nothing to do with ISP traffic.

Not that it matters in this case, as this appears to be a case of the ISP implementing blocks on specific IPs or DNS records at the express request of the customer. Which would be highly problematic if they were prohibited from doing, and also requires no traffic inspection.

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