Google Takes Back Adult Ban

Defcon goes back up

After surprising users by completely banning adult content on a blogging platform previously committed to freedom of expression, Google has done another volte-face and rolled back their draconian policy. A quiet forum post made an hour ago by Blogger team member Jessica Pelegio explains:

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.

By all indications, Google is going back to the policy it established in mid-2013 where users are free to create content that is erotic in nature, but they are not able to monetize it in any way.

Blogger did not make any comment about this matter on its Google Plus page or Twitter stream. The small warning on the Blogger dashboard announcing the policy has disappeared with nothing else appearing in its place. This subsequent episode, though happy, continues to give the impression of a company that wants to keep its policy decisions under users radars.

We tell ourselves “once on the internet, always on the internet,” like maintaining content is a trivial thing. But it isn’t a trivial thing — at any time, the company that you rely on to keep your content for free could change their policies, or get bought out and change their policies, or decide they want to go public and change their policies, or simply go under and take your content with them.

The longevity of data requires more intent than this. My advice is to seriously consider migrating to a self-hosted site if you can. If you can’t make sure you export your data with some regularity.

Think of this as your 21st century reminder of a duck and cover drill. DEFCON has gone back up, but the Cold War on adult is far from over.

Header image by Tom Simpson (Flickr, BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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  • lucascott

    Calling their plan a ‘ban’ is rather hyperbolic. They never said you couldn’t post it. THAT is a ban.

    That said, yes I agree that their new system for regulating access was draconian. But I also get the conundrum they are in regarding the laws over such items. After all a warning click through is too easy for someone to just click and say yes when they really aren’t 18+. And having the sites fully indexed defeats the purpose of such warnings if it means the kids can see even part of the ‘adult materials’

    So they need to do something to avoid the various laws. Perhaps rather than making the sites invite only they should make them registered accounts only. Then they can invoke rules like anyone found to be lying about their age gets their account yanked. Searches can be safe search on for non registered folks with registration required to turn it off.

    On the page side they can better enforce rules about marking those pages. If someone is caught repeatedly not marking adult material as such, yank their page. Hurt the ones who aren’t being responsible but leave the grownups who are out of it.

    • AV Flox

      Oh my goodness! Thank you for clarifying the technicality — it makes SUCH a difference.

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  • Avedon

    I still maintain my content on a paid web host as I did before, but I proliferated what is really a Blogger mirror address because I wanted the free comments. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t bothered to tell people I’d moved, since I can just paste the individual Blogger post link into the original page and people can click if they want to see the comments, and I can use that link easily to get individual posts. I have great commenters and all, but my clean HTML loads a lot faster, anyway.

  • Draxx

    “So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up
    enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn”

    Or you could just knock that s*it off entirely Google. Trust me, nobody would care.