Last week, it was brought to our attention that our primary online donation form at donate.fsf.org was being blocked by corporate systems that use a Microsoft “network security” program. It seems Microsoft has labeled us as a “gambling site.” As a result, many people were unable to make donations.
I have submitted a correction, asking that they remove the “Gambling” label and instead list us in their “Non-Profit/Advocacy/NGO” category.
We will avoid attributing this error to malice just yet, and wait for their correction. I will update this post if and when they respond to us.
2012-06-25 Update: The gambling category has been removed. Thank you to everyone who submitted a correction on our behalf. They still haven’t added us to the “Non-Profit/Advocacy/NGO” category, and they have us inaccurately labeled as “Shareware/Freeware,” but this is progress. Our story remains as a cautionary tale against using Microsoft’s proprietary software—we are fortunate enough to have a community of supporters to speak up for us, but how many other sites remain unfairly and wrongly labeled?
This reminds me of another situation several years ago, when BadVista campaign pages were conspicuously absent from Microsoft’s live.com search results, even though the same pages had been appearing on the first page of “windows vista” Google results for some time. Many people contacted Microsoft about this, and eventually the pages began appearing as one would expect.
We expect they will make this correction as well, but nonetheless we strongly suggest you avoid using proprietary “network security” software from Microsoft. If you need to provide evidence to someone else to illustrate why using such software is a bad idea, feel free to use us as an example. If your workplace uses the software currently, please point to this post and ask them to drop it. Proprietary security software is an oxymoron — if the user is not fundamentally in control of the software, the user has no security.
If Microsoft’s “reputation” database can’t tell the difference between a gambling site and an independently audited registered nonprofit public-interest charity founded almost 30 years ago, it is certainly doing you and your business more harm than good.