MyBroadband banned me because I reported them to ISPA

To get the full back-story leading up to this event, you need to read censors consumer activism about Afrihost SMS- & email-spam first. The short story is:

  • As an Afrihost customer I responded to Afrihost’s support forum to raise my issues with SMS and email-spam
  • My post which contained consumer advice specific to handling Afrihost spam was deleted without reason by MyBroadband
  • Several subsequent posts were also deleted without reason
  • It turns out that Afrihost company representatives have moderation rights on MyBroadband and delete posts which are “unwelcome”
  • I reported MyBroadband to ISPA on 7th June 2017.

Today, 8th June 2017 I received a notification from ISPA about my code-of-conduct complaint against MyBroadBand:

The above response from MyBroadBand was disappointing as there was a good opportunity to resolve the issue of censorship without having to go through a full ISPA review. The owners of the forum at no point ever indicated that my posts violated any forum rules.

Since a full ISPA review typically requires supplementary information (such as a full list of deleted posts), I filed a PAIA request to MyBroadband:

When I visited MyBroadband today at 4pm, I was greeted with the following notice:

Yes, the ban-hammer came down. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the forum ban happened after the PAIA request and after ISPA placed the complaint on review. Be it as it may, the conduct of the owners of the website are absolutely unprofessional and unethical. Yes, it is their website and they have every right to grant access to whoever they wish, but running a public website as a registered company also places some responsibilities on the owners:

  • Comply with the code of conduct when you are an ISPA member
  • Responsibly handle a constitutional right in the form of a request of via the Promotion of Access to Information Act
  • Act professionally, honestly and with integrity

The drastic measure of a site-ban without a reason leaves much to speculation and strongly points at that the owners do not welcome constructive criticism and do not support the adherence to regulatory and statuary bodies. Irrespective of the ban, I will continue with the ISPA complaint to ensure that ISPA members comply with the high standards set out by ISPA.

Some people might argue, that owns their forum and has every right to ban people and it is a “privilege” to be part of that community. This is unfortunately not correct when a website belongs to a regulatory body such as ISPA (yes, it is strange that is a member, but they are – proof here) and such membership requires that members follow a certain code of conduct. When deleted my questions why my posts were deleted, they violated that code-of-conduct for those regulatory organisations they belong to.

Although I attempted a dialogue, I was not allowed the opportunity for representation, but was summarily blocked without an explanation. The owners of the website only much later (after all posts were deleted and hours before I was banned) misrepresented the actual facts (proof with screenshots is shown in the previous post):

  • The first explanation from Rudolph Muller (forum handle “rpm” and owner of MyBroadband) was that the post was not topical. It was as it related to receiving SMS and e-mail spam from Afrihost and the post I wrote was intended to assist people with resolving the spam issue as Afrihost did not allow people to unsubscribe. The “non-topical” post was placed in the Afrihost support forum where Afrihost employees have moderation rights.
  • The second explanation from Rudolph Muller was then that the post was not relevant, since I am not an Afrihost customer. This is also incorrect as Afrihost and their CEO, Gian Visser, have been very well aware of the issues I reported since 30th May 2017.
  • The third explanation was that, although my post was valuable, it was misplaced as it should have had a more suitable place in a consumerism section. This would have moved a topical Afrihost support issue into a really irrelevant section of the website where none of the affected Afrihost customers would see it.

The above explanations are really poor attempts by the owner to justify an action which was not necessary for no other purpose than to protect paying sponsors such as Afrihost. No open dialogue was afforded. This has again become apparent when my account was banned without notice or reason.

As a closing point, I will leave you with the write-up on Wikipedia: