Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Secret Censorship on Royal Dutch Shell “Tell Shell” Internet Forum: Sunday 14 August 2005: 13.00 ET


Secret Censorship on Royal Dutch Shell “Tell Shell” Internet Forum By John Donovan “Tell Shell” is a discussion forum buried deep within the website which supposedly provides a facility for site visitors to openly express their views about Royal Dutch Shell and its business operations.


Printed below is a description of the “Tell Shell” facility by Shell International Petroleum Company Limited as the Complainant in proceedings filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation in May 2005. The proceedings were in respect of the domain name: “TellShell.Org” (set up almost a year ago as an alternative to the official facility.)   


“Tell Shell” is a facility set up in November 1998 to promote feedback from customers, shareholders or any other interested parties on topics and issues relating to Shell, and to enable the Complainant to respond to public concerns and criticism in an open and transparent way.   


The following forms part of the introduction to the unofficial site: -


“ is designed to provide an alternative to the heavily censored official forum - (TellShell) which claims to be committed to "open and transparent dialogue" about the Royal Dutch Shell Group and associated matters. In reality the webmaster has displayed a bias on behalf of Shell which has recently led to numerous well-founded, rational contributions being summarily deleted from the site. A number of contributors have voiced their complaints about the blatant censorship.”


Because of an assurance received from the webmaster of Tell Shell last year, the unofficial version has subsequently remained dormant.


Regular contributors to the Tell Shell site were therefore surprised at what happened at the beginning of August 2005. A disgruntled former Shell Area Manager, Mr John Whitehead, posted comments on Tell Shell. Within 48 hours the comments had vanished without trace and without any censorship notice being displayed. Previously a legal notice had been displayed whenever a posting had been removed by the site censor.


The current censorship policy is therefore even more objectionable than was the case formally. It is a far more perfidious form of censorship on what was once billed as a forum for "open and transparent dialogue" and "lively debate". Now even the censorship notice has been censored. So much for Shell’s claim (as stated above) that "Tell Shell" allows it to “respond to public concerns and criticism in an open and transparent way.”


The censorship debacle on Tell Shell exposes once again the huge credibility gap between Shell’s PR claims, compared with the actual reality of its actions. Like Shell's Statement of General Business Principles, pledging honesty, integrity and openness in all of Shell's dealings, Shell's claim that it conducts the "Tell Shell" facility in "an open and transparent way"is a laughable charade.


Official web pages


The unofficial site:


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