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March 29, 2006


Lance Knobel

I think this is an important campaign, Rebecca, and you're fighting the good fight.

Can you explain why you have a Flickr (owned by Yahoo!) panel on your blog?

Rebecca MacKinnon

Good point Lance, I've been a Flickr user since before it was bought by Yahoo! I should re-evaluate.. and I am in the process of phasing out an old Yahoo! account.

So far I have not advocated an all-out boycott - because if we're going to be really purist and consistent about our boycotting, it becomes pretty hard to function on the Internet. I do however think we as users need to make our values known to Yahoo! Which is why the button above links to an Amnesty International letter-writing campaign demanding change in company practices rather than a boycott.

In fact I think it's a good idea for all of us to do a bi-annual check on the internet tools we use, whether they sufficiently reflect our values, whether we trust their parent companies, and what the alternatives for switching would be. Maybe we should all do a "trust audit" at least once a year on the tools and services we use regularly and blog it... then aggregate it somehow.

Meanwhile on a couple of occasions with commercial and noncommercial projects I'm involved in, I've advised against working with Yahoo! because I don't trust them. I will continue to do so until I see their values change.


Rebecaa, please don't drop into the trap of stupid questions deviced by fools or foxes. :) I suggested to my friends like this: Use Yahoo! for every junk purposes. Use it to the extreme extent! Register as much account as you can and use the email account as junk email receiver for bulk spam email. :) Let Yahoo! be happy with the dirty money they got from China and help them to spent it in the dirty ways that it deserves! :) This is the right way to fight, but not boycott.

So I'm still using Yahoo, because its calendar and weather forecast in messenger is good.

But be sure not to trust Yahoo, neither can we trust any businessmen. Microsoft and Cisco etc are doing the equal or less dirty things. Google is doing something that's not so "evil"
http://www.lot49.com/evil_scale.html until money comes. :)

Chinese (ever be and always be, seems like this) abroad like Jerry Yang is the typical selfish and cheeky Chinese: selling out conscience for money.


Based on my experience in China, I doubt that those Chinese officials who control the Internet respect or trust Jerry Yang despite his atttempts to kowtow.
The issue as I see it with regard to Yahoo is they either cleverly or inadvertently absolved themselves of any responsibility in China when they hooked up with Alibaba. Yahoo hides behind its minority equity ownership status. Banging on them will thus achieve little in terms of how they can influence Alibaba. What incentive does Alibaba have to listen to western voices--they are already quite content with the billion dollars plus that they received from Yahoo.


Such as, using Yahoo 360 degree to post your "Yahoo! Abomination", using Yahoo flickr for Tian'anmen crime photos etc, seem good ideas to me. :) Why not use Yahoo's money for good?

Richard Brownell

I don't know the various search engine + China cases in great detail. You certainly know more than I do. But it seems to me that you are haphazardly recommending disobeying the laws of the Chinese government. And those recommendations may sound fine for a humans rights activist, but not exactly realistic for a company.

First off, what "influence" does Yahoo! have to release a prisoner? I don't think there are many cases of an American company releasing prisoners in the USA, let alone causing the release of one in China. The second recommendation is meaningless without the fourth recommendation and still doesn't account for the fact that China may not agree with the UN on humans rights.

I agree that you aren't advocating disengaging. But you're coming as close to you can to advocating breaking Chinese law. If for Yahoo! to satisfy your humans rights demands means they have to break Chinese law, I think you should state that honestly.

In my personal conversations with companies that have moved into China (no, not Google, Microsoft, or other giant internet companies) non-compliance with the government means you don't get to have an internet presence there. They have much stricter control than we do. And it isn't Yahoo!'s or any other company's place to be waging war on the Chinese government. If it's really such a problem, write your representatives in Washington and ask them to wage war on China.

Obviously, I may be a bit extreme in this post, but I think it's important to show a different viewpoint and one that has no affiliation with Yahoo!


Idiot, how much do you know about China? Have you ever been there before?

Rebecca MacKinnon

Nobody, I lived there for a total of 11 years if you count 2 years in a Chinese primary school and 9 years working there as a journalist.

Dennis Howlett

I come at this from an accounting angle Rebecca - a subversive one. Looking forward, if blogs are tagged with tickers then the infomation available to investors changes radically.

Now they get to see many more facets of the company than would possibly be available by conventional means. This changes the game for corporate social responsibility, puts into question the pure financial form of investor analysis and demands a much greater level of accountability among corporations.

The future of auditing?

Michael Griffiths

A company should abide by the laws of the country they are in.

Internet companies are no exception.

It's a huge ethical violation for Yahoo!, MSN, etc to flout the laws and regulations of the Chinese government merely to comply with some poorly-defined idea of "moral justice" created in the Western world.

I have no objection to you stating that Yahoo! should abide by USA ideas of morality, etc, if you equally accept that Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Lenovo have the same right to flout USA ideas of morality, etc.

However, I suspect that you do not; thus, I find myself unable to consider your argument. The hypocrisy is deafening.

Thank you.

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