Frequently Asked Questions

The NearlyFreeSpeech.NET FAQ (*)

Non-Member (*)

Q. Why do you host really, really offensive content?

The simple answer is that we allow offensive content — whether that means offensive to you or offensive to us — because our Terms and Conditions of Service allow all legal content and it's not illegal to be offensive.

The real question, then, is: why we don't we change our Terms and Conditions of Service?

Well, everything from this FAQ entry and our Abuse page definitely applies. But when you get into websites that advocate or represent viewpoints that are particularly offensive and harmful, there are additional reasons.

Most importantly, websites that advocate or represent viewpoints are created by people who hold those views. If those people are willing to stand up and wave their hands and say "Hey! Here I am! Over here! Look at me!" we prefer to let them. To some extent, we are willing to host certain types of content to rub the world's nose in the fact that people who think that way still exist. And if that makes you uncomfortable, good, it's working.

In addition to that, we have very strict requirements to provide accurate contact information and we operate from a nation of laws. If someone who hosts a site on our service engages in criminal activity and the police come to us for help (with appropriate warrants/subpoenas/etc), we're very likely to be able to provide not only information, but technical assistance that may be essential to catching them. If we kick them off and they pop up twenty minutes later on some third-world ISP that hasn't put our level of thought into their policies, doesn't keep good records, and doesn't have the legal system we enjoy, that opportunity is lost.

Of course, the simplest reason is that it's not up to us to decide what the rest of the world should or shouldn't see. Bad news, it's not up to you either. Worse news, it's still true even when we agree. Which is probably most of the time.

Finally, censorship is always bad, for a variety of well understood reasons that we don't need to repeat here. But in the case of some types of content, it has special dangers. When you censor a web site based on the extreme or dangerous views of its creator(s), you haven't stopped those people from thinking that way. You haven't made them go away. You certainly haven't stopped the people who hold those views from doing whatever else they do when they're not posting on the Internet. What you've actually done is given yourself a false sense of accomplishment by closing your eyes, clapping your hands over your ears, and yelling "Lalala! I can't hear you!" at the top of your voice. Pretending a problem doesn't exist is not only not a solution, it makes real solutions harder to reach.

So that's why we host really, really offensive content. It's not because we like it. It's certainly not because we agree with it. And it's not because we profit from it; our MFFAM policy makes sure of that.

It's because we've spent a long time thinking about this very carefully and concluded that it's the best course of action. But that's our opinion. We respect your right to hold — and to express — a different view.

Please note: If you found this because of a specific site that falls into the offensive-but-legal category that you were hoping to censor, here is what you should do instead:

That's what we do. Unfortunately, all of those things do take more effort than demanding censorship. But they're both useful and effective, whereas censorship is neither. If you're upset by something you see online but not upset enough to do these sorts of things, then "don't look at it" is probably the best advice we can offer.

Of course, if you find something that's actually illegal rather than merely offensive, take appropriate action immediately.