At TorrentFreak, we have covered the latest news surrounding piracy, file-sharing, and copyright, for almost fourteen years.
As a news site, we strive to write as any other professional journalists would. We highlight the latest copyright enforcement efforts and press releases, but also the counteractions that pirates take, as balanced reporting prescribes.
While we understand that some of the topics we cover are controversial, as is often the case with news, we never expected it to be risky. Apparently, however, some companies believe otherwise.
A few months ago we moved our newsletter to Mailchimp, which is widely regarded as one of the best services of its kind. And indeed, setting up the account and configuring our daily mailing was a breeze. As such, we were more than happy to pay the monthly fee.
Although we were pleased with Mailchimp, Mailchimp wasn’t too happy with us. Out of the blue, the company decided to stop sending out the daily email campaign a few days ago. As it turned out, our account had been suspended as the result of an “acceptable use” violation.
Apparently, one of our recent articles triggered MailChimp’s abuse prevention system, Omnivore. Since we’re a legitimate news site we asked for clarification, but we were swiftly informed that it wasn’t a false positive.
“Our automated abuse-prevention system, Omnivore, detected account content that violates our Acceptable Use Policy,” a MailChimp employee replied.
“We have nothing personal against you or your business, but in order to protect all of our users and ensure the deliverability of everyone’s campaigns, we have to ask that you seek a new vendor for your email marketing needs.”
This explanation still didn’t say much about the reason for the suspension, so we asked for further clarification and the possibility of a human review. Specifically, we wanted to know what part of the acceptable use policy was violated and why.
Although MailChimp replied, our questions remained unanswered. What we did learn, however, is that our articles are too risky for a company like MailChimp.
“Unfortunately, the risk associated with your account is too great for us to continue to support,” MailChimp replied.
“To give you some background, internet service providers (ISPs) and spam filters strictly monitor the content and keywords used in bulk email, and can block all mail sent through our servers if they detect a problem,” the email added.
Unsatisfied with this answer, we decided to try again and asked whether the topics we write about are a problem, but that request remained unanswered.
While we are baffled by the entire experience and MailChimp’s lack of specificity, we have some sympathy for their actions. They obviously don’t want to kick out a paying subscriber, unless it indeed poses some kind of threat.
What’s really to blame here are the automated filters from ISPs and anti-spam outfits that wrongly tag certain content as problematic. Too many piracy-related keywords, which is what you would find on a piracy-related news site like ours, can apparently get entire servers blocked.
This is the same reason why many automated filters have our site blocked under the ‘piracy’ category, or even hacking and criminal skills.
Unfortunately, this means that we’re now looking for a good newsletter service, ideally, one that works with RSS feeds. If anybody has a suggestion, feel free to drop us a line. Meanwhile, MailChimp subscribers can use our Feedburner newsletter for now, which is still operational.