Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Google Blogger: Adult Content Policy



On February 23, 2015, I received the following email:

Dear Blogger User,

We're writing to tell you about an upcoming change to the Blogger Content Policy that may affect your account.

In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content.

The new policy will go into effect on the 23rd of March 2015. After this policy goes into effect, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content we've made private.

Our records indicate that your account may be affected by this policy change. Please refrain from creating new content that would violate this policy. Also, we ask that you make any necessary changes to your existing blog to comply as soon as possible, so that you won't experience any interruptions in service. You may also choose to create an archive of your content via Google Takeout (https://www.google.com/settings/takeout/custom/blogger).

For more information, please read here (https://support.google.com/blogger?p=policy_update).

Sincerely,

The Blogger Team

(c) 2015 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043



Several years ago (2011? 2012?), Google made what I recollect as a similar pronouncement and the entire world, including yours truly, apprehensively waited for the cutoff date to find out if the omnipotent censor would take our blogs off-line. At that time, I believe the target was anyone advertising anything sexually explicit: porn sites, escorts, phone services, etc. I don't do that, but I was still apprehensive about some faceless person somewhere taking offense at something I posted. This time, the target seems to be images or videos which are sexually explicit, but what constitutes "sexually explicit"? I don't post porn, but do some images, possibly defined as erotic, constitute sexually explicit? Once again, even though I don't think I'm doing anything wrong, is some faceless person somewhere going to slam down the gavel in a verdict without defense and my on-line blogging efforts will be cast into the eternal pit of shame?

I know it when I see it.
Justice Potter Stewart, concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964), regarding possible obscenity in the 1958 film The Lovers.


FYI: I have turned on the option on my blog for "Adult Content" which means anybody surfing to my site must first click on an option accepting that the materials are for adults. Somebody suggested Google sent the above email to anybody with this option turned on, not because they have materials falling under this new policy. True? False? I'm going to find out on March 23, 2015.

The Terms of Service link shown above, leads you to the following (as of February 24, 2015 at 2pm EST):

Our Services display some content that is not Google’s. This content is the sole responsibility of the entity that makes it available. We may review content to determine whether it is illegal or violates our policies, and we may remove or refuse to display content that we reasonably believe violates our policies or the law. But that does not necessarily mean that we review content, so please don’t assume that we do.


It's taken a couple of days, but I see the rest of world is waking up to Google's announcement.

ZDNet - Feb 24/2015
Google bans 'explicit' adult content from Blogger blogs by Violet Blue
Google will soon disappear blogs on its Blogger platform that don't conform to its new anti-adult policies. Every Blogger user behind an "adult content warning" page was told Monday by Google to delete sexually explicit content, or find their blog removed from every form of access except registered users. Until today, Google's Blogger platform previously allowed "images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," and stated that "Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression."

ZDNet - Feb 24/2015
Timeline: Google's role in global sex censorship by Violet Blue
Summary:While you were busy freaking out about government surveillance, censorship blossomed at the one corporation that has the most power to fight -- or enable -- suppression of speech: Google.


What's everybody else doing?
Below, I've copied the content policies of several on-line publishing platforms. While WordPress and Pinterest seem to be similar to what Google is enacting, Tumblr is truly open and free. They clearly state that if you don't like something, don't look at it. Tumblr isn't going to censor it; it is your responsibility to stop looking. While this makes Tumblr look like a rebel, I have to note that Tumblr is now owned by Yahoo. One would think if Google's move is spurred by the possible threat to their advertising by those people disapproving of questionable materials, why does Yahoo not feel the same way?


Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website founded by David Karp and [as of 2013] owned by Yahoo! Inc. (Wikipedia)

Tumblr: Adult Content

Is adult-oriented content allowed on Tumblr?

Sure. We have no problem with that kind of stuff. Go nuts. Show nuts. Whatever.

What should I do if I don't want to see adult-oriented content?

For material on your dashboard, you should be judicious about who you choose to follow. If someone posts stuff you don’t want to see, whether it’s adult-oriented or not, don’t follow them. If you don’t want to see anything overtly sexual in your search results, just click the padlock in the upper-right corner. As long as it says “Hiding adult-oriented content,” you’re good. If a questionable post happens to sneak through, please do everyone a favor and flag it.

My blog contains adult-oriented content; what should I do?

If your blog contains nudity or adult-oriented content, please respect the choices of the people in our community and flag your blog as “adult-oriented” on your Settings page.


WordPress.com is a blog web hosting service provider owned by Automattic, and powered by the open source WordPress software. It provides free blog hosting for registered users and is financially supported via paid upgrades, "VIP" services and advertising. (Wikipedia)

WordPress: Mature Content
We do permit mature content on WordPress.com, including text, images and videos that contain nudity, offensive language, and mature subject material. However, blogs that contain such content must be marked as Mature in our system.

However, there are limitations to the mature content permitted on our service. Please don’t:
  • Post sexual materials that can be considered pornographic, such as images or video of explicit sexual acts or close-up images of genitalia;
  • Post links or ads to adult-oriented affiliate networks, such as pornography site signups;
  • Post links, text, or images promoting or advertising escort or erotic services;
  • Post images of extreme violence or gore without associated context or commentary;
  • Post images of child pornography;
  • Post content that promotes pedophilia, such as blogs with galleries of images of children where the images, content surrounding the images, or the intent of the blog is sexually suggestive.

Pinterest is a web and mobile application company that offers a visual discovery, collection, sharing, and storage tool. Users create and share the collections of visual bookmarks (boards). ... The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. It is managed by Cold Brew Labs and funded by a small group of entrepreneurs and investors. (Wikipedia)

Pinterest: Content Policies
To keep Pinterest a place that everyone can enjoy, we don’t allow:
  • Things that are inappropriate for the general public, like sexually explicit or pornographic Pins
  • Hateful Pins or language that attacks a protected group or individual
  • Anything that promotes mental, emotional or physical harm to yourself, others or animals
  • Content that's fraudulent, deceptive or misleading
We do allow works of art and educational Pins, like you might see in a museum or classroom, on Pinterest. We also think Pinterest is a great place for discussing controversial or personal issues, but we ask that you be respectful and kind in the process.


Final Word
Fox News recently posted (Feb 3/2015) the ISIS video of captured Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive. There's the option to embed the video on my blog, and I have no doubt that if I did so, Google would not say anything. I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. Violence is acceptable, but sex is not. Tumblr takes the approach that each one of us have to be responsible viewers and responsibility is not censorship, responsibility is self-censorship: don't look. It seems that Google has perceived this change in policy is necessary from a business point of view. And it is interesting how such a change is reflective of the current American culture: sex must be censored, not violence.


Postscript: February 27, 2015 at 2am

my blog: Google Blogger Reverses its Ban on Sexually Explicit Materials - Feb 28/2015

As of 2am, February 27, 2015, Google announced a reversal of its previous policy announcement. The tech giant will not censor any blogs.

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn. Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page. Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs.


References

my blog: Erotica vs. Pornography: What's the difference? - Jun 26/2013
Erotica vs. pornography. Good vs. bad. Desirable vs. vile. A welcome part of the human experience vs. all that is perverted in the world. ...The other day, somebody made a curious remark which made me stop and think. "I'm not big on porn, but I'm a big fan of erotic photography & art." What struck me as so odd about the above statement was that the person in question, a woman, is the author of erotic fiction. It was almost as if she had said, "I'm not big on sex (porn), but I'm a big fan of sex (erotica)." Maybe all roads don't lead to Rome.

my blog: Pornography: What is it? - Nov 9/2010
I know it when I see it. It may seem that simple at first glance but the further one delves into the question of defining what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, one realises that the subjective nature of the assessment is very much tied to the individual doing the defining. One man's pornography is another man's art... or innocuous pleasure.

my blog: Censorship: Kill me but no sex please - Oct 29/2010
Norman Herr, Professor of Science Education at the California State University states using data from A. C. Neilson: "The average child will watch 8,000 murders on TV before finishing elementary school. By age eighteen, the average American has seen 200,000 acts of violence on TV, including 40,000 murders."

2015-02-24

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2 comments:

Katy Anders said...

I did not receive that warning email so... woohoo. Fascist Dyke Motors isn't questionable, I guess.

This is going to really affect some of the blogs I follow. What the hell?

Tumblr is okay, and it really allows ANYTHING (!), even though Yahoo owns it now. I mean... anything.

You can add Disqus comments to Tumblr and make it essentially a real blog. The problem with it is that it's really about hearts and reblogs... Memes, basically. It's not an idea exchange like "real blogs...

I hope things work out for your blog. I love your blog, I love your twitter... You really do rock...

Anthony Kennerson said...

Actually, Tumblr does some form of censorship, in that their algorithms don't allow searches for other adult content blogs; you actually have to know before hand the URL of the site.

And, it's all possible that Yahoo! could impose the same repressive policies on Tumblr at any moment.

Best advice I can give is to save your pennies and get yourself a selfhosted domain and a webhosting platform (like HostGator or Webair), and tell Google to take a flying fuck leap.