Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Error Code Tells Users When A Website Is Being Censored

A mockup of the new error, using dummy text originally proposed by author Tim Bray, indicates that a particular website is being censored. Jeff Ward-Bailey

CSM: Error 451: How to tell when websites have been censored

A new online error code tells users when a site is unavailable for legal, rather than technical, reasons. Error 451, a nod to Ray Bradbury's novel 'Fahrenheit 451,' indicates that a site has been censored by a government.

If you’ve ever tried to visit a webpage that’s no longer available, you’ve seen the “404 Not Found” error alerting you that the sever can’t find that page. The “404” part of that message is an HTTP status code, one of a collection of standard codes that provide information about data transfers to your web browser.

As of last week, there’s a new status code indicating that a site can’t be accessed – not because of a broken link, but because the content is being blocked by a government.

The code, Error 451, is a nod to Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel “Fahrenheit 451” about book burning and the suppression of ideas. It tells the user that the site he or she is trying to access is working and reachable, but that they’re being prevented from accessing it for legal reasons.

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