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Yahoo! apologizes for blocking Wall Street protest emails

Spam! mistake! not! censorship! says! Yahoo!

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Yahoo! has admitted that its email filters were blocking news of the ongoing occupation of Wall Street by activists, which is now in its fourth day.

An investigation by Think Progress found that emails containing a link to the OccupyWallSt.org website – which contains the latest updates on the protest – were being bounced back by Yahoo! unsent, with a message to the sender reading: "Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent.”

Yahoo has acknowledged that the emails were blocked, but the company says on Twitter that the problem wasn’t some massive government conspiracy but instead a mistake in the company’s spam filtering system.

“Unfortunately, the domain 'occupywallst.org' was being caught by one of our spam filters when some users tried to send messages containing it," the company told The Register.

"This was a false positive which we corrected on Monday. However, there was a residual delay (up to 24 hours) for users trying to send emails with that phrase."

While the problem appears to be fixed, the protestors are understandably concerned that news of the occupation is being ignored. A quick examination of Google News shows four times the number of news sources covering Charlie Sheen’s latest shenanigans compared to those writing about the ongoing occupation of America’s financial heartland by protestors.

The occupation, mimicking the Arab spring occupations of Tahrir Square in Egypt and similar protests in Spain, began on Saturday. That day, around 5,000 protestors descended on Wall Street to protest against financial mismanagement and commodity speculation. A few hundred protestors set up a camp on Liberty Street overnight and have stayed there ever since, with numbers growing slowly.

After they began tweeting about being hungry, an account was set up for online donations, which quickly received over $8,000 in donations. A local pizzeria has offered to give away 20 pizzas an hour for as long as protestors are held without charge. So far New York’s finest have obligingly held five of them for 12 hours, and El Reg suspects the protestors are getting a little sick of pepperoni.

There’s little sign of the protestors going away any time soon. Indeed, they plan to stay for months. There have been a few arrests, most published immediately on YouTube, and so far, the police are playing a waiting game. Wall Street business is unaffected, although it seems the camp has become something of an attraction to bored traders and tourists. ®

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