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The morality of Istyosty.

I love the lengths people go to in the name of denying the Daily Mail profit. Since Istyosty has closed, my favourite strategy for sharing their articles comes from the people who just stitch together screenshots of the page, blur out the adverts, and upload it as a jpeg. These people would rather take time out of their lives to de-monetise the article in Photoshop, than give the Mail those precious few pence of ad revenue they so dearly crave. That's dedication to the cause. When the revolution comes, these are exactly the sort of people we need on side. Although, you know it's only a matter of time before the Daily Mail cottons on, and tries to sue every single picture host on the internet. I look forward to the Daily Mail vs 4chan court case, if only because we'll be able to legally show that the Mail hosts more pictures of kids in bikinis.

Istyosty was a remarkable site. It took a cache of a page, with adverts removed, from those right-wing newspapers like the Mail or the Sun that regularly vomits out lies and bile. People could share racist, sexist, homophobic articles, without giving any hits and ad-revenue to the paper responsible, which meant that people who care about the national discourse could raise awareness of the vicious hate these papers would pump out, without adding to the handsome bank balance of the French-For-Tax-Purposes Lord Rothermere.

The Daily Mail is the world's second most popular news site, and liberal outrage certainly makes up for a significant minority of that traffic. I, for one, don't want to contribute to their power and their profit. I want to know what the Daily Mail has to say in the same way I want to know what the BNP has to say: it's important to know what they're saying, I want to hear their arguments so I can defeat them, but I don't want to pay them for the privilege.

I have heard it argued, from people whose opinions I respect, that Istyosty is inherently unethical in all cases. One person I follow on Twitter said "if you read the content, the least you can contribute is a click."

Although I don't agree, I have sympathy with this argument to a certain extent. For example, I have some friends - left-leaning friends, who quite frankly should know better - who will tweet about something, then link to the Daily Mail as a primary source. Now, I would argue that we should never do this. The Mail has been proven, time and time again, to lie. If it's true, other websites will be running the same story. Link to somewhere else. If the Daily Mail happens to be your only source for a story, then wait until someone you can trust verifies it. But if you absolutely must insist on linking to the Mail just to share some news, then yes, I can have sympathy with the argument that Istyosty is wrong.

But for sharing offensive, horrific, abhorrent articles, I think Istyosty is entirely justifiable. I have no time for the argument "If you want to tell your friends that someone is being homophobic, then you can at least give the homophobes some money". The Mail should not receive any reward for polluting people's minds.

Fundamentally, the reason we care about what the Mail says is because it's the second most popular newspaper in the country, both online and in print. The things the Mail says matters, because their noxious opinions infect millions of people around the country, and that has a profound effect on the way people vote, on the things people demand of government, on their happiness and on our collective fear, on their willingness to trust their neighbour, on the things they buy and the way they lead their lives.

It's extremely unlikely that Istyosty will return. Perhaps someone clever might create a peer-to-peer version that can't be closed. Until then, I hope people will keep trying to find new, mischievous ways to deny the racist misogynists the traffic they crave. Take screenshots, and blur the adverts out. Use Ad-Block Plus. Write blog posts, quoting the important parts. Print out inspiring blog posts by your favourite media bloggers, and give them out in the street. Do whatever you can to show the world how evil the Mail is, and how powerful an effect it has on our society. And do it without giving them a single penny.

PS - Wasn't it ironic that the Daily Mail would shut a website down for copyright violation, and then yet again use someone's photo without permission.
I make friendly socialist political stand-up comedy, and fun YouTube videos, with varying degrees of success.

I tweet at @Chris_Coltrane.

Please go to my website to download The Lolitics Podcast - a podcast of live political stand-up comedy from me and my friends.

And click here to see my YouTube show, The News For Idiots. I watch TV news, so you don't have to.

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