The Story of a Disappearing Critique on Google+

Nov 11, 2011 • Culture, Feature, geek, teh inetrwebz, web

How free is speech on Google+?

On Wednesday, November 02, Bryan Jones shared a public post on Google+ protesting the censorship of artist Paul Roustan‘s art on Google+ which contained an album with 22 images. A handful of the images were quickly flagged by Google+ and some time on Friday, November 04, the post itself became restricted to other users.

Because Jones could still see the post, the movement he had sought to start to bring awareness to censorship practices on Google+ (illustrated by the hashtag #occupygpluscensorship), lost the momentum it had gained in the previous 48 hours. In a conversation with Googler Brian Rose, Rose told Jones that the post “should not have been automatically made private to me… something was wrong… and that he would follow up with Google’s Post team on Monday.”

There was never a notification from Google+ telling Jones the post had been made private or, when it was reinstated the following Monday, November 07, that it was accessible once again.

Whatever your views may be when it comes to flesh on social networks, you have to agree that a process that doesn’t notify users of actions being taken by a social network with regard to their content is one that breeds insecurity and doubt. How can we feel that Google+ is an extension of our homes when we can’t be sure that we’re allowed to voice our opinions? This situation is grave indeed.

Consider this matter beyond the content. Do you feel safe knowing that Google+ could silence your posts without warning? Are stated guidelines enough of a warning? How can Google+ do this better?

  • Ram Sunlover

    Old news to me, I’m sorry to say – I had an adult blog with an interstitial warning page on Blogger for 2 years – about 250 posts, over 700 images loaded on Picasa, purchased extra storage space, etc etc etc – dipped into almost every aspect of the Google vertical integration.

    And I avoided G+ from the beginning because of rumblings from adult bloggers and website owners such Violet Blue and Camille Crimson that adult content of even the most vanilla variety could cause immediate banishment and an evaporation of all Google related products.

    So I just stuck with my old school G profile. Then one day in August, with no warning, discussion or a by your leave, G hammered me anyway. The blog’s interstitial warning page simply announced “This blog has been removed”; my gmail account – gone; my Picasa account and all 700 images – gone; my Google Sites site – gone; the GBs of extra storage I bought – tough shot, gone.

    I sent an appeal email (from another account, since gmail was gone baby gone.) I never got any response.

    Forewarned is forearmed – good luck.

  • Julie Rehfeld

    Unfortunately, you are experiencing something that internet marketers have gone through for years though to a different degree: The random whims of what Google finds appropriate…or not. Many marketers in every niche you can imagine, have gone to bed only to wake the next morning, go to their computer to check their overnight stats on Google analytics, only to find that their sites are gone…not there…disappeared into the ether, forever. Seriously, gone for good. This has sent more than one marketer into a financial tailspin as lots of these sites are the online equivalents of the family business, so, their livelihoods. It’s called the Google Slap and it happens without warning or explanation and is most often permanent.
    Nice. Free commerce society that we are…and the first amendment? What’s that?

    • AV Flox

      Except this isn’t a marketer — this is a citizen expressing themselves. The difference is very important.