Thursday, February 26, 2015

When is A Ban Not A Ban?

UPDATE: A day after the non-ban ban was announced, Google caved in. Pornography will still be allowed on its Blogger platform, but the company will double its efforts to stop those using their sites to sell porn. So the spineless ban lives up to its spineless name.

As with most things, the devil is in the details.

While I applaud Google’s move to “ban” pornography from its blogging platform Blogger, getting into the details show that ban isn’t really a ban.

There appears to be a ban or limitation on new sites created after March 23, 2015, per the Google announcement

For any blogs created after March 23, 2015, we may remove the blog or take other action if it includes content that is sexually explicit or shows graphic nudity as explained in our content policy.

Checking their content policy finds this:

Adult Content: Do not distribute sexually explicit content or graphic depictions of nudity. Do not drive traffic to commercial pornography sites.

If your blog contains non-sexually explicit content that is still adult in nature, please mark it as 'adult' in your Blogger settings. We may also mark blogs with adult content where the owners have not. All blogs marked as 'adult' will be placed behind an 'adult content' warning interstitial. If your blog has a warning interstitial, please do not attempt to circumvent or disable the interstitial - it is for everyone’s protection.

That appears to be a ban.

However, per Google’s announcement, blogs that currently are home to explicit content won’t be purged. They’ll be grandfathered in and made private:

If your existing blog does have sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video, your blog will be made private after March 23, 2015. No content will be deleted, but private content can only be seen by the owner or admins of the blog and the people who the owner has shared the blog with.

Google is being showered with praise for its anti-pornography efforts, and rightly so. But it seems in this particular circumstance, they’re still content to host pornography as long as no innocent eyeballs can stumble across it. Google’s motto in this case seems less “Do No Evil” and more “You Can’t Shake the Devil’s Hand and Say You’re Only Kidding.”

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