Update: Daily RFT just spoke with Barbie Flick, Manley's sister. She's come to a resolution with Yahoo.
Last week, former Kansas City Star reporter Martin Manley killed himself in the parking lot of the Overland Park Police Station. Soon afterward, the world discovered he'd left behind a meticulously assembled website called "Martin Manley: My Life and Death." The voluminous writings catalog the rationale behind Manley's final act, his childhood and life, and his views on everything from crime to his favorite pizza toppings.
The site went viral last week, but by Friday evening the link was dead. It turned out that Yahoo removed it, despite the fact that Manley prepaid for five years.
Now Manley's family has weighed in on Yahoo's decision.
Almost as quickly as it disappeared, several mirror sites popped up reposting Manley's content exactly as it had been laid out before. That includes the group Anonymous, which created the website MartinManley.org. The link initially leads to a statement from the group:
Anonymous is many things. We are legion. We are empathetic towards all those who have lost faith in the system that is constructed around us. We appreciate all offerings to the internet as the internet is our home and domain. We are here to protect, contain and display all information that can be progressive towards humanity.
Slate also heard from Barbie Flick, identified as Manley's sister. Here's the statement she issued:
I am very saddened that Yahoo would dishonor my brother's contract that he made with them. I learned from my brother posthumously that he had worked on this web site for over a year. Martin had been a very private person in many ways. It was incredibly important to him that all who cared for him be able to see who he really was. I speak for all of his friends and family, when I say that we want to be able to have access to this site.
A cursory read will tell the reader that Martin was not advocating suicide for others. There is nothing offensive about his site. While it is painful for me, I believe that he handled the topic very appropriately. Since Martin did have a pre-paid contract with yahoo for the next five years, I am pleading with Yahoo to either republish the site, or allow the family to have the files so that we can find another way to carry out Martin's wishes.
Here's the statement Yahoo sent us yesterday:
After careful review, our team determined that the site violated our Terms of Service and we took it down. Here's the relevant language from our ToS behind our decision to take down the site: "You agree to not use the Yahoo! Services to: a. upload, post, email, transmit, or otherwise make available any Content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically, or otherwise objectionable."
Any conversations with Mr. Manley's family will happen privately.
Specifically, Yahoo's spokeswoman tells us the site was deemed "harmful." When asked if the family would receive a refund of Manley's money, she reiterated that those discussions are "private."
Update: Barbie Flick, Manley's sister, says she's come to a resolution with Yahoo -- they've returned Manley's domain name, his files and his money.
"We are rebuilding it elsewhere," she says. "One of his best friends is a developer. He's building it. He'll probably do it as fast as he can."
Flick confesses that not even she has been able to read through all of Manley's original website, but she noticed that the mirror sites that are currently online are missing some of Manley's original content. The new MartinManleyLifeandDeath.com should rectify this.
Flick says she's not certain who will host the site as of now, but they'll need someone who won't object the way Yahoo did.
"It would have been easier if they put it back up," she says.
What do you think? Should Manley's site be allowed back up or do you consider its existence encouragement for others to follow his example?
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