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[ NNSquad ] New Info About Google's Blogger "Adult Sites" Deletion Notification

      New Info About Google's Blogger "Adult Sites" Deletion Notification


Greetings.  I had not originally planned to author a blog posting
about this issue, but since yesterday I've received so many panicked
queries that it seems best to address this now, especially because it
does appear to reflect more broadly on concerns regarding how
effectively Google communicates with its users. Be warned though that
the situation still remains significantly cloudier than I'd prefer.

Yesterday, as noted in this ZDNET article ( http://j.mp/10qg3s7 ),
owners of Google "Blogger" sites who had self-identified as hosting
"adult content," received a somewhat cryptic and in some respects
confusing notice from Google, informing them that if their sites
contained ads or links associated with commercial adult sites, their
Blogger sites were subject to deletion starting June 30th.  That's
June 30th this year -- just a few days after the notice was sent!

The key change from existing Blogger content policy appears to be the
striking of language that prohibited "substantial" monetization, and
instead making the prohibition total and (for all practical purposes)

Outside of hitting like a bolt out of the blue with an extremely short
fuse, the notice itself was not particularly well worded.  Was it
talking only about adult ads or all ads?  Ads running only on "adult"
Blogger sites or all Blogger sites?

And was Google actually serious about starting to shut down offenders
in just a few days, with the notice coming just two days before the
weekend?  Many site owners couldn't even reach their webmasters in
time to push through changes like this on such a truncated schedule --
or even make the required alternations themselves quickly enough,
especially with the weekend looming.

In response to my queries, a Google spokesperson has provided me with
some more information, but not as much as I would have hoped.

I'm told that the prohibitions do apply to all Blogger sites, whether
labeled as containing adult material or not.

To the question of whether there's any "grace period" associated with
these actions, I'm informed that while "the team realizes this is
fairly short notice and will take that into consideration," no
promises can be made about what will actually happen this Monday (when
the deadline is triggered).

"Fairly short notice."  Indeed.

Frankly, this all seems a bit mysterious, and implies to me that there
may possibly be some unusual factor involved that is so drastically
compressing the notification schedule and choking off the availability
of a better explanation.

Be that as it may -- and even given my assumption that Google has
reasons for this course that aren't merely arbitrary -- this strikes
me as a pretty shabby situation overall.

You (like most of us!) probably never have anything to do with adult
content on your Blogger sites.

But even if your sites on Blogger are squeaky clean, one would hope
and expect that Google would at the very least more clearly explain
what has triggered this rush and unusual opacity in responses, and (at
least in theory, given that a grace period isn't being officially
defined) how such a course could possibly be considered practicable
for users, some of whom are of very long standing.

I can theorize several generic possibilities about how this situation
might have (at least apparently) popped into being, but I won't
speculate about them here.

And I'll let you know if I learn anything more useful that I can pass

But for now, I will simply suggest that Google's users caught in this
saga really do deserve to have been treated better.

Be seeing you.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
 - Data Wisdom Explorers League: http://www.dwel.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://vortex.com/g+lauren / Twitter: http://vortex.com/t-lauren 
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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