UPDATED 25th Feb – jump to why the Reddit image cull is not the same.
UPDATED 27th Feb – well, what do you know? Google’s reversed the decision and has now said it won’t delete adult blogs. However, given that Google could change its mind at any time, and given that it has a long history of trying to rub out anything sexy, I’d still be really wary if I were you, and much of what I’ve said below still stands. Beware omnipotent companies with the power to delete chunks of the internet.
Another day, another pathetic attempt to remove bums from the internet. If you’re a sex blogger and you’re hosted on Blogger (so if your url is DirtySexBlogName.blogspot.com or .co.uk or whatever) you need to either scrub your blog shiny-clean and start focusing on tulips or chilli recipes or something, or you need to migrate it to another site. Best to go self-hosted, although beware your host: I once had a heart-stopping 24 hours during which Bluehost decided that my site was too disgusting for human consumption and shut the whole thing down.
Advice, info, and all that stuff on the Blogger issue can be found over on Write Sex Right.
I know loads of people are still using Blogger for their sex blogs, and others are using WordPress. I’d advise you to get off both of these if you want to make sure you’re safe, and go self-hosted. Even if you don’t post pictures. Even if you think your blog is relatively tame compared to others. Even if you don’t run ads or use affiliate links or have much traffic: move it or lose it.
Which I hate saying, because Christ – who has time to do all that bullshit? Self-hosting, fees, buying domains and pointing the DNS at the right place and all that arse. I hate it. And unless you’re a web developer, or know a friendly web developer or two, it’s fucking hard. But have a bash – that link above points you to some good places for help – because otherwise Google will shut you down.
Google: what the fuck are you playing at?
Ultimately Blogger is a private enterprise and can (in theory) do what it wants. It can choose, if it wants to, to remove any blogs about cupcakes if it decides it doesn’t want cupcakes associated with the brand. Likewise it can remove porn. Blogger (owned by Google) is not a charity, or an arm of the government: it has no legal obligation to be fair, or to support your free speech, or whatever. Just as I have no obligation to publish your comments – if I wanted to I could delete any comment that I didn’t like (I won’t, though, obvs), so Google can refuse to host any blogs that give it a shudder of post-wank shame.
Because that’s the closest analogy I can think of for what this actually is: that post-wank misery that creeps over you when you’ve cracked one off to a fantasy that took you by surprise. The dirty, miserable feeling that you get when you’ve rubbed yourself dry over the course of a fetid three-hour binge. Google’s built Blogger up from a small blogging platform to something which millions of people use. It’s allowed you to host adult content there for a while, as long as you have a content lock, and now it’s pulling the plug. It’s had the binge, collected the users, and now it wants to purify itself: a corporate wipedown that’ll get rid of all your icky unpalatable bits so as not to scare the children.
Fuck it. Fuck it utterly. Google isn’t compelled to host your content, but I’m going to go out on a pretty solid limb here and say that I think it should.
Google isn’t the government, but that doesn’t mean it has no moral obligations. Just as I don’t have to host all your comments, but I think I do have a moral obligation not to delete all the criticism I get and leave only the shiny ‘I had a lovely wank’ notes.
There are plenty of services that won’t support (or won’t be seen to support) adult content: Paypal, for instance. Amazon, if you’re on their affiliate scheme (even though you can buy dirty book porn from them). Loads. But when it comes to the prudish removal of all adult content, I have more of a problem with Blogger than any other service, because it’s Google. Google’s business model relies on it owning your online identity: we all know this, right? Not just in part, but totally. Google’s dream is to have as much data about you as it is possible to have, and for every element of your life to be in some way touched by, hosted on, or enhanced by its tools.
You can see where I’m going with this, can’t you? Not a primary-coloured boot stamping on a human face forever exactly, but something along those lines. Not government control, but corporate ‘recommendation.’ A boss who insists on you living near the office and moderating your behaviour 24/7 in case you ‘harm the company’s reputation.’ A company with shiny desks and high ceilings and a brand that can’t be seen to associate with anything that isn’t family-friendly.
I have a massive problem with governments trying to dictate what kind of porn we can and can’t watch/produce/read/etc. But that’s a fight for another day. Right now, my main concern is with a company that has combined a desire to touch upon the lives of every human with a belief that it can influence which life activities are appropriate.
I know this sounds like I’m wailing ‘ARMAGEDDON’ in the face of what is, ultimately, just one company making a decision about a platform I don’t use. But my point is that it doesn’t matter if I use Blogger or not: I use Google. We all do. Google has, quite deliberately, made it virtually impossible not to. I’m not arguing that it’s a slippery slope, or that you should worry about what’s next (no more adult content on Google Plus, which might cause problems for the four people who actually use it), I’m saying you should worry about what’s happening right now.
Even if you don’t write on Blogger, you probably read blogs on it, or blogs that have been influenced by blogs that are on it. So to a certain extent what you see will be shaped by what Google is willing to support. In a month’s time, explicit content will be made ‘private’ (meaning you have to be specifically and personally invited by the author if you want to read it) and nudity or sexual expression will only be allowed if it:
“offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts.”
Google decides that: the company which wants to own everything also wants to decide which bits of that everything you should not be allowed to see.
If you’re on a Blogspot or a WordPress blog and you want to migrate, I can’t help you with the details (because I’m rubbish – there’s a great guide here on Molly’s Daily Kiss), but I can help give you a bump after you’ve migrated. Email me, link to this post, or leave a comment when you’ve switched over and I’ll add a follow link to your shiny new self-hosted blog on this page. You’ll get traffic and stuff, which might make up for what you’ll lose if you have to spend ages faffing around with the transfer.
UPDATE: The Reddit decision is not the same as the Blogger decision
Today Reddit announced something regarding nude images too:
“No matter who you are, if a photograph, video, or digital image of you in a state of nudity, sexual excitement, or engaged in any act of sexual conduct, is posted or linked to on reddit without your permission, it is prohibited on reddit.”
Lots of people (most notably the Telegraph) are talking about it in the same breath as the Blogger cull, saying that Reddit is also ‘clamping down on nudity’ and ‘censoring naked pictures.’ I do not think this is the same at all. Reddit itself talks about ‘protecting your digital privacy’ and that’s exactly what this is – privacy, not censorship. To spell it out clearly: Reddit has not announced that it’ll remove all images, or images of particular acts. Reddit doesn’t care how explicit your image is: only that you have consented to its publication.
Removing nonconsensual images and abuse images is not censorship any more than it’s ‘censorship’ for you to decide to keep some parts of your life private. If you’ve ever sent a nude pic to someone you know, but not stuck it up on your facebook feed, you’ll understand what this difference is.
As with any rules governing content publication, obviously we need to be careful not to use a sledgehammer approach, so if Reddit had announced it’d remove all naked pictures in order to be sure it got rid of all revenge porn? Yeah, I’d be waving my placard along with everyone else. But they haven’t. All they’ve said is that if you’re the subject of a naked picture posted on Reddit and you ask them to take it down, they will. If you genuinely believe that this is wrong, then please feel free to upload all of your personal data – images, emails, texts, Twitter DMs – to a public repository on the internet for us all to have a good look at. You wouldn’t want to censor it now, would you?
I think it’s really important to draw the distinction between removal of abusive pictures and censorship. Most reasonable censorship campaigners are never campaigning for the open publication of *all* content, and there are always exceptions (for example: child abuse pictures). It’s especially important to draw this distinction in this case, where we have two companies which are both removing naked images. If we lump both of them in, then the arguments to support Reddit’s (totally valid, imho) stance on privacy can and most certainly will be used to justify Blogger’s totally invalid approach to naked pictures in general.