Is Blogger’s Pornography Purge Censorship?

Google sent an email to all “adult” themed Blogger accounts Wednesday night informing them that monetization (advertisements and links to professional pornography websites) will no longer be allowed on Blogger and all NSFW blogs that don’t take down their endorsements will be shut down by June 30th.

Not only are thousands of bloggers enraged, they’re also confused. The email was vague and unclear about what Blogger defined as monetization. The current content policy warns against creating blogs just to host ads and link to porn sites, but the email states that any adult blog with any advertisements for a NSFW site will be taken down. Anyone who received this email fears the loss of their site and most admins are wondering where they went wrong.

shutterstock_124670467Violet Blue on ZDNET was one of the first to break the news about Blogger’s death bell and explained why some adult-themed blogs could be wrongfully punished.

While users can go into their settings and set their blogs as “adult,” Blogger has a habit of applying the label to any blogs that it feels are intended for mature audiences. Someone who reviews romance novels can be marked as adult by Blogger, even if they rarely go beyond PG-13 writing. An artist who paints nudes as a form of expression can easily get labeled as pornography, or a photographer who was inspired by a significant other. Some blogs that aren’t porn sites – or exclusively adult – could get deleted because Blogger gave them the “adult” label.

A lot of people are calling this unfair censorship. If you’re a blogger who reviews cat food or theme parks, feel free to host banner ads by Purina or link back to SeaWorld’s website, but if you review sex toys, you could be punished for endorsing a particular brand.

Blogger is doing their own labeling and they’re also being vague about what is considered monetization. They’re not the first Internet company to have trouble with subjective censorship, just last month Facebook was flagging pictures of women breast feeding their infants while pages about rape were approved as free speech.

shutterstock_114656362A mass killing such as the one planned for this weekend is bad for the Internet as a whole. Self-hosted websites or WordPress blogs that link to “adult” Blogger sites will have handfuls of broken links in their pages and articles. If you think you might have linked to an “adult” site, or are worried that other sites that you link to are moving or shutting down, try the Broken Link Checker plug-in for WordPress or the Online Broken Link Checker for other sites. Your readers will thank you when they can click around without getting redirected to 404 pages.

Blogger has been decreasing in popularity over the years as WordPress and Tumblr have grown. This move will cause blogs – adult or otherwise – to reconsider their host. Certainly several sites labeled “adult” will move to less hostile environments, while other blogs might think this is a sign that more changes are coming and now is the time to move on.

Are you worried about Blogger’s porn-ocalypse? Porn-mageddon?

About the author

Amanda Dodge