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Monday, May 31, 2010

Censorship re Twitter, Yahoo... and Toyota

There are allegations that Twitter censored the tag, #flotilla to impede the avalanche of commentary after word got out re an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza.  Ordinarily, I would discount this in favor of attributing the problem to a glitch.  Unfortunately, however, my experiences with Twitter have not been ordinary.  Best I can tell, evidence of censorship - not only by Twitter, but also by Yahoo and Toyota - is starting to accumulate (see my posts for 4/28, 5/6, and 5/10/2010).

Today's allegations re Twitter are troubling because less popular tags relating to the flotilla incident encountered none of the technical difficulties Twitter apologists say are responsible.  Furthermore, after a tide of microblogs leveled charges of censorship, the #flotilla "glitch" suddenly disappeared.  Kinda like what happened to me when I kept notifying my followers re Twitter's efforts to censor comments I tweeted about Toyota, including tweets re the same sort of censorship by Yahoo.  Last but not least, mainstream media accounts of the raid were obviously questionable.

Censorship should alarm everyone - especially those of us who frequent the Internet.  We now have the potential to reveal the kind of information that government and industry has been able to keep quiet by pressuring traditional media.  This is not the time to hurl unfounded allegations, but it is most certainly a time for vigilance.  For example, I am particularly alarmed re Twitter publishing my tweets via (searching) my account, but not publishing them in real-time results.  This has all the earmarks of a dirty trick, because if I send out comments compaining that the tweet was censored, it appears that I was - at best - mistaken.  Rest assured that I carefully monitor real-time results immediately after I tweet.

Update 6/8/2010 1:19 am - monitored 15 mins. - as outlined above, Twitter again published one of my Toyota tweets under my acct and on my profile page, blocked it from real-time results, and published subsequent complaint tweets in real-time.  Dirty tricks the "Twitter Way."

Censorship issues aside, the flotilla incident is deplorable and heartbreaking.  I join those who condemn the raid.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Lexus LS (Lousy Steering) recalled n drydocked

I'll bet Toyota wishes they could censor the truth about this one.  Their much ballyhooed flagship, the Lexus LS - models hit the $60k to 100k range - has not only been recalled.  Its  been drydocked.  Yessir, after news of the defective steering had time to soak in, ol' Mr. T was forced to just go ahead and stop sellin' 'em altogether. 

Halting sales for safety reasons is rare in the automotive industry, but certainly not for Toyota.  Stoppin' sales is gettin' to be synonomous with the Toyota Way.  Frankly, I think Toyota oughta be forced to bring their entire operation to a screechin' halt, at least until the racketeering charges are resolved.  After all - news blackout notwithstanding - they've got over 3,000 customers alleging deceptive business practices over oil sludged engines...

Till Toyota finds a fix for this latest exposed defect, its comforting to know that Lexus LS (Lousy Steering) owners need not worry.  Toyota says the steering wheel can still be used to steer the car.  Really.  That's what they say.

Friday, May 14, 2010

News Blackout: 3,133 customers petition Akio Toyoda

When thousands of customers complain about the policies of a business that has been charged with racketeering, the public most certainly has a right to know. Nonetheless, mainstream news organizations are refusing to publish this story.

Hardcopy of the online petition, "Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution: Engine Oil Sludge" was submitted to President Akio Toyoda, Toyota headquarters, on April 21, 2010, delivery confirmed via signed receipt.  Toyota's response, received May 11, 2010, has been typically nonsensical.

Excerpts from the news release:


Thousands of outraged customers have petitioned Toyota seeking redress for engines damaged by oil sludge.  They allege that Toyota stonewalls and refuses to comply with the terms of a class action settlement, and at least one petitioner has filed a lawsuit.  "No wonder Toyota is charged with racketeering," said Charlene Blake, who initiated the petition.  "Toyota's response to oil sludged engines is the epitome of deceptive business practices."

The release was in standard format (due to a technical problem, the Huffington Post received a summary via their website) and provided ample contact information.  Here is a list of the news organizations that were notified:

LA Times
Washington Post
USA Today
Associated Press
Huffington Post
NY Times
Consumer News
Media Asia
Detroit Free Press

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yahoo blocks comments about Toyota.

Anyone who thinks Yahoo is a bastion of free speech better think again.  In recent weeks, with only two or three exceptions, Big Y has been refusing to publish my comments below articles about Toyota.  I've been permitted to comment on other topics, and interestingly enough, Yahoo has published my comments via Buzz.  The objective seems to be to prevent information from reaching the really BIG audiences attracted to top news stories, usually Yahooed via the Associated Press and garnering perhaps over 20,000 comments.  Buzz generally attracts a far more limited response, and is apparently being used by Yahoo in an effort to placate my concerns regarding censorship.  This evening, about 8:30 pm, Yahoo censored my comments re "Toyota waited months to issue steering recall," prompting this post.

Yahoo has a history of censoring comments.  Check out Yahoo's response when someone posted comments on a flickr blog complaining about thieved photographs, and Yahoo's scolding from Reporters Without Borders for cooperating with Internet censorship via repressive regimes such as China.  Gee.  What else has Yahoo been up to, and how many voices - outspoken bloggers in China are often jailed - has Yahoo helped to silence?

Bloggers in China have accused Toyota of hiring companies to remove negative posts.  Let's hope Yahoo, Toyota, and Twitter (see posts for 4/28 and 5/6/2010) aren't tryin' to globalize the repression of free speech.

UPDATE:  Immediately after publishing this post, I submitted a tweet, "Yahoo blocks comments about Toyota. (link to this post)," and Twitter censored the tweet from Search.  I then submitted a tweet intended for my followers, "Twitter is censoring my tweet re Yahoo blocking comments about Toyota," and it appeared in Search.  This is the same boorish tactic used by Twitter earlier today (see today's UPDATE below 5/6/2010 post).

UPDATE:  5/21/2010 Yahoo continues to block my comments re Toyota.  This afternoon about 5:10 pm EDST, I submitted a comment below the Yahoo news article (via AP), "Toyota recalls 3,800 Lexus cars for steering fix," and once again it was blocked.  Not surprising that one of the congressional witnesses Toyota targeted for attack also had a blog critical of Toyota (see link list under Shhh...). 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Censored by Twitter: Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada

5/12/2010 - instead of separate posts, I am currently adding updates at the bottom of this post re various censorship problems with Twitter.

Toyota's slick marketing and deep discounts wore off quickly in Canada, confirmed by a 16.7 percent plunge in April sales while other automakers posted gains.  For some reason, this wasn't very well publicized on this side of the border, including the popular social media site Twitter.  When I submitted a tweet with the link below, it appeared on my home page and my profile page, but was repeatedly blocked from Search.  Recently, I've been encountering censorship not only from Twitter, but also from Yahoo.

Apparently, the reason Toyota's decline didn't "catch up with them earlier" has to do with pre-booked sales instead of the deep discounts Toyota has been offering in an attempt to lure customers into showrooms.  Perhaps this kind of information is what Toyota, Twitter, and Yahoo would prefer to keep quiet.

UPDATE 05/07/2010 - Twitter has censored tweets about this article from appearing in Search.  Twitter's censorship re this particular tweet started yesterday.  A subsequent tweet, "Reaching out the Toyota Way http://toyotasludge.com/victims " did appear in Search, and that may have been the ol' proverbial straw that broke Toyota's back, prompting Twitter to block all of my tweets from appearing in Search.  The link connects to a testimonial that exposes the truth about Toyota's current attitude toward customers, and is posted - along with the customer's name - on a blog established by yet another recently victimized Toyota customer.  Hey, Twitter:  this is NOT the United States of Toyota. 

UPDATE 5/8/2010 - About 8:30 pm yesterday, I noticed that my tweets were once again appearing in Search.  I'll be posting further updates re any significant developments.  

UPDATE 5/10/2010 - about noon, I repeatedly submitted the above tweet, "Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada. http://tinyurl.com/25ukt2o " but it was still censored from Search.  I then tweeted info intended for my followers, "5/10/2010 about 12:15 pm Twitter still censoring 'Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada. http://tinyurl.com/25ukt2o '" and that tweet was published in Search.  Bitter, Twitter?

UPDATE 5/12/2010 - about 9:25 pm I submitted a tweet referencing an article about Toyota's finances.  After monitoring Real-time rusults for about ten minutes, the tweet did not appear, but about an hour later, it showed up via regular Search.  At that time, I noticed Twitter's longstanding problem with apostrophies appearing as ' had finally been resolved.  This caused my tweet - which had been programmed to read correctly assuming Twitter's glitch - to appear jumbled.   I deleted the tweet, resubmitted it, and it appeared in Search via Real-time results within a minute or less.  About 2:00 am I submitted a tweet re Toyota's "buzz" rating being categorized as "corporate cad."  I immediately monitored Real-time results for about ten minutes but the tweet never appeared.  Then I searched again, and it appeared on a stationary list of tweets labelled Real-time results.  My retweets this evening were also omitted from active Real-time results, and one of them never appeared on my Home page.