Labour Party Website Banned From Internet Search [updated]

If you're a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.

A couple of days ago I was intrigued to see a piece on Skwawkbox about possible blocking of Labour Party pages from internet search engines due to the inclusion of the noindex and nofollow meta tags which effectively blocks search engines from indexing that page’s content making it seem invisible to the web. These tags exist solely for that purpose.

Above: An extract of the source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review. The complete source can viewed at the page itself or here.

The content on the Labour website is part of The Labour Party Democracy Review and is an open invitation directed at Labour Party members to participate in the future of the political party

“If you’re a member of the party, submit your ideas and opinions to our Democracy Review now and help shape the future of our movement.”

Therefore its exclusion from internet searches is to the obvious detriment of possible change. It could also be said that any such restriction could be considered a direct attack on Jeremy Corbyn himself and his desire for inclusivity.

As it concerned what I thought at the time to be no more than a misplaced meta tag, possibly the result of a sloppy cut and paste operation by some inexperienced intern, it didn’t concern me as anything overtly sinister.

However that was a couple of days ago and despite a number of contacts made to certain individuals, departments and businesses with responsibility for such things – both by Skwawkbox and domestic empire, the offending search-restrictive content remains conspicuously unchanged.

Update: Skwawkbox contact with Labour HQ.

Labour’s HQ confirmed that the tag was not accidental and referred to emails that had been sent to members with a link to provide their input to the review – but this begs the question of why bother putting the page on the site at all if you’re going to hide it?

Now the situation has become murkier with confirmation to this blog by a leader’s office (LOTO) source that neither Corbyn nor his office had given approval for the noindex measure:

“We absolutely did not sanction that tag or anything else that would limit the number of people participating. On the contrary, we want input from as many people as possible so we get the benefit of everyone’s perspective.”

Although strangely absent from their portfolio the company responsible for creating the Labour Party website is Wide Eye Creative, based in Washington USA:

“..purpose-driven creative digital agency that empowers organizations, campaigns, and causes.”

I contacted them and its man in charge Ben Ostrower altering them both to this error in markup that was resulting in a negative impact for their client. Two days later I’m still awaiting their reply and removal of said meta tag. But regrettably they seem more interested in discussing Star Wars and somewhat ironically, Net Neutrality.

Wide Eye Creative & Ben Ostrower tweets

Normally one would expect such coding errors to be fixed immediately upon receipt of notification along with a cheery, ‘Thank you’, for spotting such a glaring error that might have otherwise caused public embarrassment – so why the stalling?

I don’t wish to launch into full conspiracy-mode, but the lack of action surrounding this simple code change, or even to acknowledge its existence is cause for some concern.

At the time of writing the errant meta tags that effectively ban The Labour Party Democracy Review from being seen remain in situ.

The Labour Party Democracy Review
View source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Download source code for The Labour Party Democracy Review
Why has Labour HQ blocked Democracy Review page from search engines?
Excl: LOTO – ‘we did not sanction hiding Democracy Review page from search engines’
Google: Block search indexing with ‘noindex’

Updated 18th December 2017: Skwawkbox obtain reply from Labour.
Updated 16th December 2017: to better illustrate source code.


“social media is the worst menace to society.” v3

“To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” – Recep Erdogan Turkish Prime Minister

By Rob Valley

Social media and opposition to blame for protests, says Turkish PM | World news | The Guardian.

Further reading:
Robert Valley

SOPA 101: What Is It? Those For and Against Censorship

Someone on Diaspora asked me, “Who is in support of SOPA? Who benefits if it passes?”. Read on…

How Would SOPA Work?:

How Would SOPA Work?

Those for Censorship:

Which tech companies back SOPA? Microsoft, Apple, and 27 others.
“The following list is every single member of the Business Software Alliance. Each of them is complicit in supporting SOPA unless they publicly distance themselves from the BSA on the issue. As the companies are, presumably, dues paying members of the BSA, they are financially supporting the enaction of SOPA. Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, AVEVA, AVG, Bentley Systems, CA Cadence Design Systems, CNC Software – Mastercam, Compuware, Corel, Dassault Systèmes, SolidWorks Corporation, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Kaspersky, McAfee, Microsoft, Minitab, Progress Software, PTC, Quark, Quest, Rosetta Stone, Siemens PLM Software, Inc., Sybase, Symantec, TechSmith, The MathWorks

Those Against Censorship:

Internet giants place full-page anti-SOPA ad in NYT
“Congress may not want to hear from opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act at today’s hearing, but that hasn’t stopped a broad coalition of (often fierce) competitors representing the Internet’s giants from placing an ad in today’s NYT, signed by Google, Facebook, Mozilla, Zynga, eBay, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AOL.”
Internet giants place full-page anti-SOPA ad in NYT

Other supporters against SOPA include: Wikimedia Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and human rights organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch.

It may appear at first glance this is an American issue, but the consequences of this law, if passed, shall affect everyone worldwide. America already effectively ‘controls’ the internet via the California based Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and its Domain Name System (DNS). If this law were to pass you might as well wave hello to Nineteen Eighty-Four.

“History is written by the winners – don’t be a footnote.”
Gary Walsh

Source Links:
How would SOPA work?
SOPA (wikipedia entry)
Which tech companies back SOPA? Microsoft, Apple, and 27 others.
Internet giants place full-page anti-SOPA ad in NYT

Reporters Without Borders
Electronic Frontier Foundation
American Civil Liberties Union
Human Rights Watch
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
Domain Name System (DNS)

Facebook Paid PR Firm To Smear Google

Facebook Admits Planting Media Stories

a typical day in the life of capitalism
Surely by now we’re all aware the people behind facebook are scum, and that all global corporations are essentially the same. But in case you exist within the naive media bubble of ignorance, here’s just one recent minor incident that amply displays how big business operate. And of course, it has none of your interests at heart.

Facebook recently unveiled plans to introduce email to their network, so planting these stories to look as if they come from independent sources is clearly part of their marketing strategy.

For the past few days, a mystery has been unfolding in Silicon Valley. Somebody, it seems, hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post.

The plot backfired when the blogger turned down Burson’s offer and posted the emails that Burson had sent him. It got worse when USA Today broke a story accusing Burson of spreading a “whisper campaign” about Google “on behalf of an unnamed client.”

But who was the mysterious unnamed client? While fingers pointed at Apple and Microsoft, The Daily Beast discovered that it’s a company nobody suspected – Facebook.

Confronted with evidence, a Facebook spokesman last night confirmed that Facebook hired Burson.
Facebook Busted in Clumsy Smear on Google by Dan Lyons

See also…
Facebook paid PR firm to smear Google Guardian
Facebook admits hiring PR firm to smear Google engadget
Facebook confesses to Google smear bid Telegraph
Facebook in PR plot against Google Financial Times
…to name just a few!

I dedicate this post to each and every idiot I meet who dare look past my abundant jolly optimism and instead accuse me of being depressingly cynical in nature. Though given the choice, I think I should rather be accused of cynicism, than exist as a half-witted drone spoon-fed by mainstream media.

Not convinced? Then stick around children, because I have numerous similar quantifiable examples yet to print. ;p

Silence Gives Way To Consent.
I was about to publish, when coincidentally I received the following advice.

A friend actually suggested, if I disapprove of said news, I should close my facebook account!
What a helpful, uplifting and progressive world view to have.
What utter naivety.
If in doubt, blurt out the first superficial response your brain can scramble. Ignore complexity; the finer detail; the sub-text.
Normally one has to read the tabloids to experience such reactionary over-simplification.

Evolution, why have you forsaken us so?