It took a personal phone call from a United States Senator and right wing calls for a boycott, before Amazon agreed to quit hosting WikiLeaks's servers earlier this week. Tableau Software, another Seattle-based company (albeit an exponentially smaller one), however, just barred WikiLeaks from using its graphics creation services after nothing more than a generic statement by Sen. Joe Lieberman that any company that deals with WikiLeaks should no longer do so.
With both Amazon and Tableau, whatever anger existed over the companies' previous dealings with WikiLeaks seemed to multiply tremendously when they decided to axe the site.
As soon as Tableau posted an explanation of why they did what they did, scores of users promised to cease using the company's software and labeled its actions as censorship.
Here's a portion of the company's statement on Thursday by VP of Marketing Elissa Fink:
Our terms of service require that people using Tableau Public do not upload, post, email, transmit or otherwise make available any content that they do not have the right to make available. Furthermore, if we receive a complaint about a particular set of data, we retain the right to investigate the situation and remove any offending data, if necessary.
And here's just one of dozens of scornful comments from soon-to-be-former users, this one from "Ed":
Free speech is the foundation of a democratic society. When you remove the data based on something which I presume is a form of "copyright" concern, ignoring the aspect of free speech.. Well, let me simply say, you got your priorities wrong..
One thing that Tableau does not address in its statement is the fact that when it originally began in 1997 it was at the behest of the U.S. Department of Defense. The agency had then contracted Stanford Professor Pat Hanrahan to create a new kind data sharing software that eventually spun off into what the company is today.
With a genesis tied so closely to the U.S. government, it would be understandable that such a company would decide that dealing with a website with contributors whom major politicians are calling to be executed is not worth the trouble.
Unfortunately, Tableau only lists the flimsy "everyone-else-is-ditching-WikiLeaks-so-we-should-too" excuse and its users aren't buying it.