Google has changed its mind about blogs featuring adult content twice in one week.  Previously the company said that “Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression.”

There was a warning that such blogs contained adult content and you did have to acknowledge that before continuing to the blog. Then the company  notified users that if their blogs contain what Google considers to be “sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video” the blogs would no longer be accessible to the general public and you won’t be able to find them using a search engine after March 23.

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The company said that it would still allow adult material presented ” in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or presented where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. “

Of course, Google would have made the decision on that one.  Users wanting to preserve their blogs had the choice as private and send out invitations to users who could register to access the blog.  There was also the option of exporting the content and posting it somewhere else.

If you did not mark your blog as private or change the content, it would just disappear. Anyone searching for the link would get a broken link notice.  This would have likely resulted in probably thousands of broken links from the past 16 years of posts on the Blogger service.

In addition to sexually explicit images, Google also forbids blogs that promote illegal activity, what they determine to be hate speech, crude or threatening content, blogs that threaten violence or that are used for what Google considers harassment.

Then a few days later, Google abruptly changed its mind once again and said that those blogs would be kept public.  According to the company, “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.

They warned users to pay attention to their adult content policy and to continue to label such content as adult so that it would be placed behind the Adult Content Warning page.

There are sure to be many complaints of censorship, though actual censorship is when the government forbids certain types of speech, not when a company chooses not to carry certain types of content on a platform it provides for free to users.

Users are always free to purchase a domain name, pay someone to host a site and move their content there.

~ Cynthia