Careful when sending Taiwan news via Mailchimp!
(Update December 16: I got a reaction! See below.)
So there I was, hitting the “Send Now” button to deliver the latest edition of my German Taiwan newsletter via Mailchimp. In case you don’t know, Mailchimp is a great tool for managing mailing lists. It has worked really well for me.
Except that this time, my mail didn’t go through to my subscribers.
Instead, I got this message from the “Mailchimp Compliance Team”:
Omnivore has detected either a prohibited action (such as having multiple accounts, sending unsolicited email) or prohibited content that conflicts with our acceptable use policy.
Oh my, what had I done wrong?
Unaware of any inappropriate behaviour, I wrote back and asked the Omnivores for clarification.
Mailchimp has no love for the Kuomintang
After a few days, this was the reply:
Taking a look, the account is disabled due to the domain kmt.org.tw being included in the HTML. This domain has been frequently associated with content and behavior that has a negative impact on our sending reputation and violates our acceptable use policy and is blocked through our service.
We do ask that all links, content and redirections leading to this domain be removed from both the HTML or plain-text versions of the campaign prior to sending to avoid additional suspensions or delays.
Yes, that’s what it said: “frequently associated with content and behavior that has a negative impact on our sending reputation and violates our acceptable use policy”
Seriously, all I did was include a link to this text, in which the KMT tries to explain the reasons for the election losses: 9-in-1 Local Elections: A Preliminary Postmortem
(It has been dissected on Letters from Taiwan.)
Why I don’t like this
Now, I guess that some might have a strong feeling of schadenfreude reading this.
However, as a journalist I find it worrying that I now have to think twice about linking to primary sources on the website of Taiwan’s governing party, and risk getting my accounts blocked.
This should not happen.
I have no idea yet why Mailchimp put kmt.org.tw on their blacklist, but I intend to find out. And I will ask them to reconsider their decision.
In the last few months, during the run-up to the elections, there were reports about legitimate Taiwanese Facebook pages vanishing because too many people reported them as spam or offensive.
Now, I don’t know if user reports drove Mailchimp to that decision, or if the KMT somehow ended up on a list of suspicious websites that several providers use, or if there are other reasons.
In any case, I don’t like it. And not only because it delayed the delivery of my newsletter for a few days.
Overreacting does no good
It is my opinion that, unless they actually preach hatred or violence, one should not report pages or profiles as offensive just because one doesn’t agree with their political stance.
- It’s petty-minded
- It’s intransparent and undemocratic
- It will come back to haunt you
If you come across someone you happen to disagree with on the Web, just ignore him (or her). Block him so you won’t be bothered again. But don’t report him to the provider unless he really, really crossed a line.
Update, December 16: Mailchimp replied
Did you ever experience Taiwan-related websites being flagged or blacklisted?
Upon closer review, we do see that this domain, kmt.org.tw, is no longer engaging in behavior that is not supported by our system so it is not necessary to keep from including it in future campaigns.
Due to privacy concerns, we are unable to discuss an account with anyone but the account owner, so unfortunately we are unable to give any more details regarding the kmt.org.tw domain.