Earlier this week Google announced a policy change that would have users of its Blogger service remove any and all adult content. After some backlash, the search giant has changed its mind.
According to Techmeme, Google will only be cracking down on commercial porn content, and not the likes of sex bloggers and people making home made porn(…?) We’re not sure about that last one but regardless, Google must have realized that not ALL adult content is problematic. It seems as long as you’re not using the service to sell your porn, you should be in the clear.
“This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. 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.”
Adult bloggers will have to continue to mark their pages as having “adult content” so they can be sorted into the appropriate listings with the appropriate warnings.
Google is making a change regarding what kind of content is allowed to be publicly visible on Blogger. Starting March 23, 2015, people who use Blogger will no longer be able to publicly share images and videos that are sexually explicit or that show graphic nudity.
There are some exceptions to this rule. Google will still allow content that includes nudity to be publicly visible on Blogger if it “offers a substantial public benefit”. The example Google gives clarifies “in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts”. In other words, it is the “not safe for work” content that is being removed from public viewing.
To be clear, Google isn’t going to start deleting blogs that contain nude images or sexually explicit content from Blogger. Instead, those blogs will be made private after March 23, 2015. In other words, the only people who will be able to see the content on those blogs will be the blog owners, the admins of the blogs, and the people the owner of the blog has shared the blog with.
The blog owner could invite people to view their blog by adding individual email addresses of each person they want to grant access to. The Google account associated with those addresses could then view the blog by signing into an existing Google account, creating a new Google account, or choosing to view the blog as a “guest” (which would not require an account). A “guest” account expires after 30 days and requires a new invitation before that person can view the blog.
There are some who have pointed out that blogs that have been marked private will be removed from search results. Obviously, this will result in much less traffic to the Blogger blogs that become private as a result of Google’s content policy change. There is another option. Affected bloggers can export their blog’s text and images and repost it on a personal website.
WordPress has been around a long time and is quite a powerful web publishing platform available to virtually everyone at no cost.
I finally got around to installing the official WordPress app onto my iPod Touch and I have to say I’m impressed with the app. It quickly accepted the credentials to my own WordPress blog, and I found I could update my site directly from my iPod. More impressive to me was when I discovered the ease with which I was able to take photos (or videos) with the iPod’s camera and instantly embed them into blog posts.
Nothing is more powerful than to be able to quickly update one’s own site with not only words but images as well. The official WordPress for iOS is a free download on the iPod/iPad/iPhone/iOS App Store. If you have a WordPress blog and an iOS device, this free app is worth installing.
Google has setup the Family Safety Centre to help parents and teachers keep their children safe online. After spending a little time in the resource, it seems to be a good introduction to online safety for children from a parent’s point of view. If you need to know more, you can then take it further through some of the links.
The Centre has four main sections:
i) Google Safety Tools – information on Safesearch, which stops inappropriate material being returned in searches, and YouTube Safety Mode, which similarly stops age-restricted videos from appearing.
ii) Advice from partners – information from children’s organisations on cyberbullying, privacy, talking to strangers online, adult content and malware.
iii) Reporting abuse – if you find inappropriate material on any of Google’s properties (YouTube, Buzz, Picasa, Blogger), here’s how to flag the material to Google.
iv) Video tips from Google parents – a set of videos on YouTube from parents to parents. In this section there’s also six basic tips for on-line safety. Frankly, I think these tips should be more prominent as they’re good.
– Keep computers in a central place
– Know where your children go online
– Teach internet safety
– Help prevent viruses
– Teach your children to communicate responsibly
– View all content critically
Each country has its own slight variant, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, US and UK versions – there are probably others for non-English speakers. The main difference seems to be the list of partner organisations that Google has worked with (and spelling).
If you are a parent, you should spend a few minutes having a read of the information here.
For some time we’ve been hearing about the virtues of cloud-based computing.
Certain functions seem to lend themselves to the cloud. Online word processing, spreadsheets, etc. can seem to make sense in some situations, such as collaborating with others.
In everyday use scenarios, does the cloud really make sense in more traditional private computer-use situations? I contend that it does not.
Right now I’m typing this into Microsoft Word on my MacBook Pro. At the moment I have rather lousy Sprint and Verizon connectivity, even though 12 hours ago at this very same location I had really good connectivity from both. The only thing that changed is the time of day. If I was currently limited to using Google Docs chances are I would be unable to write this. Network demand constantly fluctuates depending on the time of day and location.
Is there enough bandwidth available? With the tsunami of smartphones that are on the immediate horizon, will the carriers be able to keep up with the average five-fold bandwidth demand increase that the average smartphone user pulls from the network? Can carriers keep up with a smartphone-saturated public all trying to pull down data at the same time?
However, for the sake of argument let’s say that mobile Internet connectivity isn’t an issue.
What if the Internet is turned off due to a declared cyber attack and all of your documents are online? What good would the network appliance approach to computing be then?
Can e-books be revised after the fact? If government can simply decide to turn off the Internet, then it’s not that much of a leap to imagine laws and regulations being passed banning certain types of blogs or even books that have been deemed dangerous or seditious. There have already been books sold such as “1984” by Amazon that were deleted from Kindles after the fact by Amazon when it was determined that Amazon didn’t have the legal right to sell it in e-book form. What if instead of banning books, they were simply rewritten to remove the offending parts? What’s to stop instant revision of e-books that have been declared dangerous?
On July 23, 2010, CNN anchors Kyra Phillips and John Roberts discussed on air the idea that bloggers should be somehow “held accountable” or perhaps regulated in some way. Here’s the video of that exchange.
It’s no secret that CNN and other so-called mainstream media outlets, both broadcast and print, have had for some time now an ongoing loss of viewers and readers. A number of traditional journalists from time to time have had and expressed an almost open hostility towards bloggers and the Internet. They perceive the Internet as a threat to their business models, and their vaunted self-appointed job as information “gatekeepers.”
If you look back over the past few years, almost every major story, particularly scandal stories, originated first on blogs. In many cases the mainstream media were dragged kicking and screaming into reporting stories. The clearly forged National Guard documents that ultimately ended up forcing CBS to fire evening news anchor Dan Rather comes to mind from a few years ago. Bloggers quickly picked up on the fact that the supposed National Guard documents had been typed up in the default template for Microsoft Word and then ran through a fax and/or copy machine a number of times to make the documents look dirty and/or old. The trouble was, Microsoft Word didn’t exist in 1973. If it weren’t for bloggers, this story would have likely never come to public light, and what is clearly a forgery and a made-up story would have passed into the public mind as the truth.
Should free speech be curbed? Should bloggers somehow be licensed or officially regulated in what is purportedly a free country? Should we be forced to get our news from “professional” or even “licensed” journalists?
Watching the news has always been a necessary evil. It seems filled with tragic and depressing stories. On occasion I have doubted the wisdom in showing what is shown. In an unofficial and unresearched opinion, it seems to me that the more murder suicide stories they show about a man and his family, the more that occur. Sick people are not helped and deterred by seeing the stories. Healthy people are no safer. I’ve had the unfortunate task of going with the police to give news of a murder suicide to a family. Should I Twitter, Facebook, or blog about it? Paul Carr over at Tech Crunch has written a second time about the subject of unwise and foolish micro-bloggers. My summary: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. We have had storm chasers, now we have Twitter and blogging chasers? It frightens me. Many times I’ve heard Todd Cochrane, the host of GNC, say “I’m not ready to comment on this until I’ve thought it through.” How can we pass on some of Todd’s common sense to the rest of the world?
Censorship and regulation frightens us. Anarchy and absence of accountability scares me much more. I have friends who are citizens of countries other than the United States. They know what it is like to live in a dictatorship or close to it. As a matter of fact I am currently touring countries with much less freedom. I am not speaking without a foreign awareness. The same freedom of the press and freedom of speech that we hold dear, we could be using as a weapon of destruction upon ourselves. We must act responsibly. Hold our tongue. Getting the news out is secondary to immediate concern for the people involved.
This week in Florida a missing baby was found alive. Further news revealed that the mother was part of the disappearance. That baby will forever be etched in the inter-webs and sought after for interviews when she is a teen. “How does it feel to have had your mother fake your kidnapping when you were a child?” Maybe it should be a live Twitter interview.
Well enough of the rant. Next article I’ll give some of my opinions on responsible blogging and micro-blogging. Thanks for reading and taking a few minutes to think through it all before you react.