Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Update on Google Blogger New Adult Content Policy

Link to Article at ZD Net



This post concerns anyone who uses Google Blogger to publish their blog, not general readers- unless you are interested in content censorship issues.

Background

Google announced yesterday, in an unexpected manner, that any blog that uses the Google Blogger platform, and that has "sexually explicit" or "nude" content will be removed from public access on March 23, 2015. They claim only "pornographic blogs" will be affected.  This has turned into a big issue with censorship implications and is being covered in worldwide media.

My two blogs are affected. Ryce Skytower's blog, which has explicit adult content, has published its last post yesterday.  There is a good chance Ryce's blog will come down.  I am not yet sure about this blog -- Google assigned this blog an adult rating in late December without notifying me, and it seems I cannot have this removed. eddihaskell.com will continue after March 23 -- on another platform if necessary if this blog is removed from public circulation

I have found some additional information out today about this:

1. Showing male buttocks may generate an adult rating from Google. Also, showing breasts through gauzy fabric may now do the same. It is very subjective. Much depends on the intended audience for a blog and accompanying text. There is no difference between avatar and human nudity as far as Google is concerned. Google is claiming only "pornographic" blogs are affected. It is yet to be seen if this will be the case.

2. "Dirty Stories" and suggestive text from LGBT and other blogs that are "alternatively sexual" may generate an adult content warning. Simply mentioning LGBT or a similar term in your blog's name may be enough to have you declared adult.

3. ZD Net, the #1 news source for high technology, reported that  LGBT blogs, and any blog that discusses "alternative form of sexuality" will be placed under additional scrutiny. Remember, what is "tame" in the USA -- such as two men kissing -- may be considered pornographic in Saudi Arabia.

4. Blogger support, which seems very surprised by this, is telling people that not every adult rated blog will be affected, and that there will be an appeals process. However, if over 1 million blogs want to  be reviewed, it is obvious that any appeals process will take a long time.

My recommendations:

1. If you publish a Blogger blog that is not now rated adult, either voluntarily or through Google placement (as this blog is) you probably do not need to worry.  It is  unlikely Google Blogger will be taking down regular blogs if they have left you alone to date, even if you received an email from Google Blogger.

2. Realize that if you publish an LGBT blog, or blog that is "alternatively sexual" you are under additional scrutiny.

3. If Google Blogger, as in this blog's case, has given you an adult rating and sign-in screen, you should assume your blog may be taken down on March 23.  If you are showing overt pornography, it will be - reports conflict on how strict Google is going to be.  Make sure to download your blogger  templates and photographs on your hard drive. This web site gives details on how to do this:

http://googlebloggerclosesgayblogs.blogspot.com/p/how-to.html

4. If you now have an adult blog, try to get rid of offending content -- if you can -- and set your blog to general. Before you do this, you need to test if Blogger will allow you to get rid of your adult rating. If you have published less than 300 posts, and if only 10% of your posts are adult, it may be worth the effort.

5. Google may change course and drop this policy by March 23. The outcry is bad out there, and people are sensitive about censorship. I actually predict that this will happen, with Google saving face by announcing new publishing restrictions for new blogs.

Best Regards, Eddi Haskell (and Ryce Skytower).

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