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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marketing Racism: From Barack Obama to a Racist Forum

Upon publishing this story, I received attention from one dubious and unexpected source, this racist forum. Now, I will admit that the piece I published could fairly be called a hit piece on Barack Obama, however my problems with Obama are strictly ideological, not racial. The racists see Obama in a totally different light. Of course, what was most interesting was some of the companies that profited from bringing racists together to chat amongst each other in an uninhabited environment on the internet.

The forum is filled with such lovely comments as

Yeah, I've seen ni$$er waiters before. I swear, they could f**k up a cup of coffee. Ni$$ers belong either shining shoes or cleaning toilets, or better yet, chimping out over a water-filled root in the African Toilet.


What are ni$$ers doing at an Institution of Higher Learning anyway?? Is there that much janitorial work that needs to be done at that school?

and one last one and that's it...

When I register for classes, I try to schedule classes between 8AM and noon.
Even at my moderately-ni$$erfuxated school, these classes are always
ni$$er-free. Even if there are one or two, they'll forget that they have class
by the second week.

So how does such unadulterated racism finds its way onto the net and who is responsible. These are the answers I searched for in preparing this story.

Unfortunately, their main forum is down as of this publication. That's too bad because their web hoster not only advertised on the site but boasted about its own abilities. (I think it went something like if we can host this site imagine what we can do for you) The name of the company is Secure Server Tech and for sites like this racist forum they offer special "free speech" web hosting. Here is how they summarized it...

Hosting in Amsterdam with more freedom of content and speech. Main rules being no childporn, malicious scripts/pages or SPAM on the network, almost all other content is allowed. Abuse and DMCA messages will be forwarded to the client for resolution, in most cases action is not required.

The "free speech" that they talk about is those obscenity and pornography laws that we have here in the United States compared to the obscenity and pornography laws in the Netherlands. SST, and others like them, take advantage of the laws to create web hosting solutions that allow for racists like these to host forums for other racists. Of course, SST has a few rules of their own

No spam related sites or any site material is posted that can be used for spam such as email lists, mass mail programs and scripts, etc;

No harrasing material that may cause people to retaliate against you and attack our
servers - Have some common sense here.

No phishing pages of any kindWe have total discretion on all content. If we feel that you are endangering our good standing with the network in any way we will not hesitate to terminate your account.

Now, it may seem ironic that SST doesn't want such things as spam but are perfectly happy to bring a bunch of racists together to spew vile back and forth. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. Racists forums are frequent target of such things as spam and viruses by hackers who disagree with their content. It is likely that the site powered by SST is down for exactly this reason. By providing such services like web hosting out of the Netherlands, SST not only doesn't mind making a buck servicing racists, but frankly they tailor their brand to attract such groups.

Not to worry, the racists actually created a back up forum for just such an occasion. This one is powered by a open source forum called phpbb. According to one of my commenters, PHP is an open source forum that allows its software to be made available for anyone. If this is correct, they have just become unwitting accomplices in bringing racists together to spout hate. Here is how their website bills their service...

Since its creation in 2000, phpBB™ has become the most widely used Open Source forum solution. Like its predecessors, phpBB™ 3.0 “Olympus” has an easy to use administration panel and a user friendly installation process, which allows you to have a forum set up in minutes.

The other main company involved is V Bulletin. V Bulletin provides the layout and structure of this racist forum along with hundreds of other high brow forums along with it. Here are some of their general services...

Scalable solution - database server and web servers can reside on separate
machines. MySQL back-end database vBulletin can be run on any machine
that can support PHP and MySQL (Solaris, BSD, Linux, Windows, Mac) Written
in PHP which makes for a fast and efficient product Admin Control Panel Moderator Control Panel User Control Panel Compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) of 1998. See this page for more information:

This racist forum is tied to a main page. The main page is layed out much like most other blogs and websites only this one markets in hate. It links to other sites of like mind and in this case it is other racist sites. There is a pseudo news page, a site dedicated to tracking African American child predators, among several gross out sites. Many of them are powered by web hosting companies. At least one ( proudly markets its own products (web hosting) on one of these sites. It is unclear how much tacit knowledge all of their so called partners have. For instance, this racist site boasts that it was tested by Macafee and found to have no virus. I maybe wrong but I believe that someone from the racist web site went to Macafee and tested their site there. That said, here is a comment from Macafee about the racist site..

When we visited this site, we found that most of its links are to sites
which are safe or have only minor safety/annoyance issues.

Clearly, someone visited the site and found most of their links "safe". Now, in the world of Macafee that likely means safe from virus, spam, and other "malicious" software, not necessarily safe from uninhibited hate speech and chat.

The most peculiar site linked from the racist main page is this site. This particular site is a collection of the "worst sites" on the internet. In other words, the goal of this particuluar site is to attract every freak, deviant (sexual and otherwise), racist, and anyone else with any other disorder and provide them with entertainment for any of their most outlandish vices. This site features everything from virtual porn, to gross out humor, to uninhibited racist chat can be found on this site.

This particular site is hosted by EGW. It is clear that this hate only finds an audience when so called legitimate companies get into bed with them. All of this chatting back and forth wouldn't happen if web hosting companies refused to do business with the racists. I can only assume that this was a business decision. These companies felt that the extra revenue would be more than off set from any potential negative publicity generated from getting into bed with racists. I don't know if they are correct however I am only getting started in sniffing everyone of these players into the open and exposing them.


Anonymous said...

Why the consternation over admittedly racist/hate-filled sites and the lack of consternation over child pornography/snuff film/violence-filled sites?

mike volpe said...

That is a great question and I am glad you asked. This particular racist site happened to link to one of my stories and I happened to check them out. As soon as I found the racist forum, I knew this needed to be brought to light. I just happened to stumble upon this story. I have just as much consternation for child porn however none of those sites have linked to me yet, but those sites must also see the light of day and be exposed to everyone as well.

Anonymous said...

Do not take offense or feel the need to tone down any criticism you might have towards Obama. I know plenty of fellow Black Americans, and African-American Immigrants who criticize him as well. As long as you are not a racist, and you know it yourself, then you have no worries. People will always exploit others, but do not allow that to fear you into submission. Obama supporters can claim racism all they want, but it should not bother you. Just tell them plenty of Black Americans have your back, which is completely true. Keep on writing!

mike volpe said...

I won't stop criticizing Obama. I see him as an ideological opponent and I won't be afraid to point it out. In fact, since publishing this, I have published several pieces that have done just that.

That said, Obama is not the story here. This racist forum is and more importantly, are the companies that facilitate it. Do Macafee's other clients know that they have tested this racist site.

Do other clients know that all of these web hosting companies also facilitate racists chatting back and forth.

What about VBulletin? Do their other high brow forums know that these racists also use VBulletin's services?

These companies made business decisions. They believed that taking money from racists wouldn't hurt them in the long run. I believe they are wrong and I want to lead the charge to expose what they have done.

Anonymous said...

Yes and no Mike. Yes, because this type of discourse is abhorrent. However, there are many abhorrent forms of discourse in this country and the market sets the mark here. I ask you this: if the bad guys had not inadvertently linked to your site, would any of us be having this discussion? I don't know where I fall here: in the end, I don't think there is a huge market for this type of forum - hate, nor do I want it to be. Anyway,......not sure what to do here.

Anonymous said...

PhpBB is an open source forum - they have absolutely NO way of preventing racist degenerates from using the software.
The hosting company is fair game, as they can effectively shut down the site - but you'd be well advised to do some research before even alluding to any association between an open source project and those who use the software.
The inference you've made to the ignorant is that phpBB is somehow tied to a racist group.
The fact is that you're more closely allied to these racists by even bothering to mention their existence.

Anonymous said...

Before linking an open source program to an ignorant group of racists who happen to have gained access to the software, PLEASE review the GNU General Public License:
When you see something like "Powered by phpBB", that simply means the group has chosen to use the freely available software.
It doesn't mean that the contents of the forum are in any way endorsed by the open source software.
The good people who freely give of their time to provide open source software do not deserve to be maligned by the uneducated or the ignorant.
In the interest of the open source movement, you should revise your entry.

mike volpe said...

Size is a relative term. I am sure that this forum is not one of the most popular that VBulletin hosts. That is frankly not the issue. The issue is whether or not it is approrpriat or acceptable for supposed straight corps to get into bed with racists and benefit financially.

I will check on BHBPP however they linked to their site from the bottom of the forum. I can't believe that this is something they have no control over.

Anonymous said...

phpbb is NOT a company - it's an open source project.


mike volpe said...

Mr./Ms. Anonymous, I had to reject your last comment because of swearing which is one of the few things I won't accept here. In it you mentioned that I approved your comments but hadn't updated the text. Well, just because a commenter claims I am wrong, that doesn't mean that I am, and it certainly doesn't mean that I will do as they command.

I will review what you have said, and if necessary, I will correct myself in future posts or in this one.

Your comments are available and any inaccuracies can be scrutinized.

Anonymous said...

"I will check on BHBPP however they linked to their site from the bottom of the forum. I can't believe that this is something they have no control over."

Well please go check - you'll find that they have no control over it whatsoever. And it's not BHBPP.

PHP is an open source scripting language - ie not BHB, whatever that is.

BB stands for Bulletin Board.

PHPBB is an open source project - not a company.

The little "Powered by" buttons are presented as links to the open source organization's main page, the software is freely available to anyone, and the purpose of those buttons is simply to increase the Google PR for the software.

Your blog, btw, is being linked directly from realclearpolitics.

Journalists are even lazier than you - and the next step in this process of laziness is for some douchebag AP reporter to link an open source project to a group of degenerate ranting racists.

Anonymous said...

This is getting silly actually - but hey, it's Saturday.

"Size is a relative term. I am sure that this forum is not one of the most popular that VBulletin hosts. "

I don't have time to research this for you - VBulletin may be a commercial program, but it has no relation whatsoever - it's a competing product to the open source phpBB.

So if they start using WordPress, is WordPress the "company" "billing itself" as an open source solution?

Are the racists using Windows to post these entries? Keep digging with that investigative journalism, and see how wide you can cast your net of racist support :) Bill Gates is a racist! Or maybe they're using Macs. Hey, Steve Jobs is a racist!

Does that help you understand the problem?

phpBB is not a company, it's not billing itself as anything other than an open source platform, and unlike the hosting company, it has no responsibility or ties to any groups that use the software.

Your inference is in extremely poor judgment - but it's your blog, so have at it.

mike volpe said...

I already fixed the post, and I went to VBulletin where one has to sign up in order for them to host a forum. That means that VBulletin approved said site.

If you still have any problems please share them. My point isn't to smear everyone I can. I want to figure out how this racist forum is able to exist and what so called "legitimate" enterprises facilitate it.

Anonymous said...

"My point isn't to smear everyone I can. I want to figure out how this racist forum is able to exist and what so called "legitimate" enterprises facilitate it."

Then don't smear anyone then. Get your facts straight. Not everyone reads comments - so you can't trust my comments to rectify your error.

Surely you have a friend with some degree of expertise that can explain to you exactly how to discern who is hosting the site.

You can then contact the hosting company's administrator - and they'll pull the site.

The site will then quickly resurface somewhere else - and you can keep chasing them as long as you like, having them shut down again and again. There's no end to it.

But the point is - phpBB has no more of an affiliation to the site than the Mac, Windows, or UNIX computer being used by the racists to post to the forum.

Given you're obviously ignorant of what phpBB is, you should then be more quick to assume that others would be ignorant - and you are indeed smearing a freely available open source solution.

Just follow the logic.

And logic would dictate that you remove all inference to phpBB and/or vBulletin as co-conspirators.

mike volpe said...

I have fixed the post and it includes your claim and you are referenced, however I went to VBulletin and you have to sign up to have a forum on their format, and that means that VBulletin approved this particular forum.

Anonymous said...

Quick update - the idiot who bought the domain didn't even register it as a private domain.

So if you want to know who's behind that site, look no further than:

Type in the domain in question and you'll be presented with the registrant's name, address, and phone number.

If you run into any problems, I'll check back.

But I'd remove the link to his stupid site. You're both advertising his site and providing him with Google PR.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

If you choose to call the person (which I think would make for a highly entertaining blog entry, which you can link from the current entry here, given you have the direct link from RCP) - check with your phone company, but I believe you can block the number you're calling from by dialing *82 prior to the number.
I wouldn't view it as cowardice - you just don't want people like that having your phone number.
Also, I've checked out the rest of your blog and found it highly entertaining - though my views might differ.
So sorry for being so hard on you about the open source bit. I know a lot more about it than the average person, and I shouldn't have taken such a condescending tone.
Just the inference that phpBB was somehow responsible for a racist forum kinda blew me away :) But it's completely understandable how someone might misinterpret the relationships - given all of the "Powered by" buttons that are so popular with OS scripts these days.
I'll check back to see if you ever get in touch with the guy :) But if you do get in touch, a good tact would be to act as though your complicit with his "movement" so he'll feed you tons of information.
Then you can turn around and bitchslap him all over the internet :)
Have fun. I'm out for the weekend.

Anonymous said...

As an Obama supporter, I disagree with your original piece a good deal, but I like this one a lot. (Just to be clear, I support your right to write the original piece -- and there was certainly nothing racist about it -- it just that we have different politics.) You are doing a real service to all Americans to flush out the people behind sites like this. Perhaps one strange benefit of having Obama as the Dem nominee is that it will help Americans recognize the racists for who they are by flushing them out. That will be ugly, and it will take vigilance from liberals and conservatives alike to identify them, but this is a part of America that I know real conservatives want nothing to do with -- and so that extra work may be worth it.

I will say that one of the real possiblities of a McCain/Obama race is the elevation of the political discourse -- something that would benefit all Americans. If your column is a first sign of that, then all to the good.

Anonymous said...

What the other Anonymous guy said is true. Blaming PhpBB for this forum is no more logical than blaming the OS on their computer, the power company that provides the power to that PC, or the employer who employs the scumbag who pays that electricity bill that keeps the computer powered on, which allows said scumbag to post his hate-filled drivel to his phpbb forum. I don't think it's legal to deny software (free or otherwise), electricity, etc. to someone based on website content. Disgusting as it is, I think it's covered as being the protected free speech that we all enjoy (though maybe that only applies to Liberal speech and art). I won't be going there, but I would personally be disturbed if a site like that was somehow banished from existence. We've all got a right to say what we believe, even if some do abuse it terribly.

GuyWilliams said...

This is a funny Obama video with a very serious undertone. The song is an older song by My Head Radio but it seems like it was made specifically for this video. The last line is the most important, we ARE all the same. Being bi-racial myself, I see both sides of people, especially when they think I'm "one of them". This piece/video/song/band means a lot to me because they seem to come from that same feeling and I COMPLETELY relate. IT'S ALSO HILARIOUS!!!! I hope you check it out and let me know what you think. If you do like it, please send it to other people, I hope Barack sees it, I think he'd dig it! Please copy and repost the link. Thanks, Guy