Yesterday folks started noticing that 9to5Mac, an Apple news clearinghouse with a reputation for dubious posts, couldn’t be saved to Instapaper with the service’s Bookmarklet. Today, Matt Buchanan at BuzzFeed got the full story from Marco Arment, the maker of Instapaper:
Even though the original error message implied 9to5Mac had requested the block, Arment later confirmed on Twitter he proactively blocked 9to5Mac because he believes it “objects” to Instapaper, and that what it’s published about Instapaper is potentially libelous…
This post was originally a critical reaction to Marco’s stance, that those who libel his company shouldn’t get to be on it. I knew that Marco would eventually blog about this himself and shed some light on the situation, but no explanation short of reversing the block and apoligizing seemed acceptable.
I’ve now reversed that decision, and I’m sorry that I overreacted.
No company, not even a small one, not even one with a (sometimes) likable personality at its helm, should get to tell us what we can read on the Internet. The idea that any part of the open Web could be blacked out at the whim of one person should be ominous.
Imagine if Google had removed The New York Times from search results due to coverage it didn’t agree with.1 I’m sure the Marco would not stand for that, so I’m glad he saw his error and corrected it.
However, these mistakes will happen. It’s how companies deal with them that matters, and Marco righted this one quickly. I doubt it will happen again.
I know this is a terrible analogy. 9to5Mac is no New York Times and the coverage in question turned out to be bogus and harmful. But data is data.↩