November 17, 2011 by Dan Patton
In February, Huffington Post announced, “AOL Agrees To Acquire The Huffington Post.” Fans of the publication cried doom, but a glance back in the warped ideological rear view mirror reveals a bizarre win-win outcome for both parties: founder Arianna Huffington took home an alleged $300 million and her followers got another conspiracy to monger.
And monger they do: “Day 11 of HP ignoring Occupy Wall Street... AOLization?” is a comment posted by “wewin” two months ago.
The source of the suspicion is the perceived increase in ideological scrutiny wielded by the site’s “Community Moderators.” These are the people with the power to delete responses to articles on the site. Their roles are defined in the “Community and Commenting Guiding Principles” sublisting under the “Comments and Moderation” section of the FAQ page.
“We... strive to maintain a respectful, engaging and informative conversation,” the declaration boasts. “Comment guidelines… are enforced 24/7... This community does not tolerate direct or indirect attacks... nor does it tolerate intentional attempts to derail, hijack, troll or bait others into an emotional response.”
Readers are encouraged to alert the Huffington Post when a comment violates these standards, and those “who consistently and reliably flag comments that are removed by our moderators” are rewarded their own personal tools of deletion and a clip art “badge” next to their name. Commenters who are rejected get a message referring to the prohibition of attacks and insults against users and public figures.
But negativity still squeaks through: “B.LOOMBERG IS A R.EICH WING F.ASCIST AND A C.RIMINAL!” appeared this morning.
The weirdo spelling thwarts a rumored database that identifies controversial keywords and sends the comment to review. In the past, most of the posters seemed okay with this; they prefer facts. But the new sheriff, it seems, does not lean as far to the left as Arianna did (or, perhaps, as far as she pretended to) and the herd of hopefuls who stood by her at the beginning have taken notice. Highest among their suspicions is that Huffington Post will not tolerate criticism of Huffington Post because AOL wants to expand the brand.
Since I’m still stuck in the same digital CAFO that fattened Huffpo from radical progressive upstart to 300 million dollar mainstream cow, I decided to check it out. I commented critically about Huffington Post and then, for good measure, announced “I’m off to the Guardian.”
Before long, all my comments were getting thrown into the “Pending Approval” holding cell. Even the one that I wrote just to test my paranoia: “Well...”
That’s right: “Well...” One syllable. Four letters. Not a swear. They wordnapped it for half an hour. It withered away in the profit driven shakedown of their ideological checkpoint as a litany of incoherent ramblings from sociopathic halfwits got waved through: “the DNC...they’re all neutered” and “Sue these redneck baggers.”
When the acquisition of Huffington Post was announced, Guardian Editor Emily Bell wrote that, “AOL is not only a competitor for the world’s uncoolest media brand, but is also to corporate mergers what George W Bush is to U.S. foreign policy.”
I could not have said it any better, especially on Huffington Post.