Google has changed its mind about banning sexually explicit blogs on its Blogger platform.
After a ton of feedback the firm has decided to continue with its current policy instead, it says.
Explicit blogs must continue to identify themselves as adult . This means a warning page is shown before readers are transferred to the site. Google also reserves the right to add an adult tag to Blogger blogs if it feels the
description is appropriate.
The acceptable use policy link currently redirects users to a posted message which reads:
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
So rather than implement this change, we've decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn.
As long as bloggers have correctly identified their adult blogs they need take no further action, the message adds.
Google plans to enable people to flag revenge porn so that it can be excluded from its internet searches in future.
Amit Singhal, a senior vice-president, announced in a post on the Google public policy blog on Friday that the company would soon issue online forms through which members of the public will be able to request that revenge porn content involving
them no longer show up in Google searches.
Links to such images will not be included in Google search results on that person, though images will remain online.
The step is a major shift for the leading search engine, which normally resists attempts at censorship on internet content showing up in searches. But Google decided to make an exception regarding the unauthorised sharing of nude photos, images
often posted by ex-spouses or partners or extortionists demanding money to take down such pictures, all without the consent of the people shown.
It is not clear if Google will implement an appeals procedure for the inevitable false claims that will be generated.
Google has been getting more aggressive about redirecting users from Google.com to the the national versions of the sites.
According to a person close to Google, this move to redirect users is part of the company's attempts to persuade judges and lawmakers that applying any censorship orders on a national level is sufficient. This person, who spoke on
condition of anonymity, suggested the company is hoping to demonstrate that, in countries like France and Germany, relatively few people now go to Google.com in the first place -- which obviates the need for broader orders.
Given the recent decree in France, however, this strategy appears to be coming up short. The fallback strategy, then, is to employ a more technical solution: Using IP addresses (which reveal a person's location) to censor Google.com on a
country-by-country basis. This would entail Google configuring its search results to detect that a person is in France -- and blocking any offending search results accordingly on Google.com -- while at the same time displaying the missing results
to Google.com visitors in Norway, the United States, and elsewhere.
Google is not employing such measures yet, but comments by the company's top lawyer, David Drummond, suggest it is willing and able to do so.
Indonesia's Ministry of Communications and Informatics spokesperson Ismail Cawidu told Reuters that in March, the Ministry aims to issue a new law to streaming and messaging providers, as well as social media websites. He cited national interests
on taxes as well as controlling terrorism and pornography-related content as the main reasons for the proposal. He added:
If they do not comply, Indonesia will reduce their bandwidth or block them entirely..
Meanwhile, Minister of Communication and Informatics Rudiantara said that the Ministry estimated that the country's digital advertising sector was worth about US$800 million in 2015, but the business was left untaxed because of loopholes in
regulations. He noted:
Google has an office in Indonesia, but digital age transactions do not go through that office. That is what we're looking to straighten out.
Google is now reported to be blocking the searches of would-be ISIS recruits and sending them to anti-ISIS websites.
That means that if you search for keywords like the Isis slogan baqiya wa tatamaddad (remaining and expanding), the deferential term al dawla al islamiya (supporters of Islamic State), or ISIS media sources like Al-Furqan and
Al-I'tisam, you'll end up seeing videos on why ISIS is bad.
All very commendable but now doubt the censorship capability will be eyed by not such shining causes. How long before searches for your local chippie get redirected to government dietary websites, or how long before searches for escorts get
redirected to vintage car auctions.
Given that the holocaust is historical fact with massive amounts of historical evidence, then it hardly seems likely that authoritative websites will feel the need to debate the existence the event. The debate only exists on contrarian websites.
You wouldn't really expect wiki to lead with the phrase: yes the holocaust really did exist.
So searching for the phrase : did the Holocaust happen? is hardly likely to strike many close matches on authoritative websites. And yes it will find many matches on the contrarian websites, after all they are the only websites asking that
A Guardian commentator, Carole Cadwalladr, asked that question and was somehow 'outraged' that Google didn't return links to an entirely different question that was more in line with what Cadwalladr wanted to see.
It would be a bad day indeed if Google dictated only morally upright answers. Searches for porn would return links to anti-porn activists and a search for local pubs would return links to religious preachers. People would soon seek other
solutions to their searching. Even holocaust campaigners would get caught out, eg if they were seeking out websites to challenge.
Surely nobody would gain from Google refusing to comply with search requests as written.
Google has now responded to the Cadwalladr article saying that it is thinking deeply about ways to improve search. A spokesman said:
This is a really challenging problem, and something we're thinking deeply about in terms of how we can do a better job
Search is a reflection of the content that exists on the web.
The fact that hate sites may appear in search results in no way means that Google endorses these views.
Editor of news site Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan, said Google was keen to come up with a solution that was broadly applicable across all searches, rather than just those that have been noticed by users:
It's very easy to take a search here and there and demand Google change something, and then the next day you find a different search and say, 'why didn't you fix that?' Hate speech
A federal court in California has rendered an order from the Supreme Court of Canada unenforceable. The order in question required Google to remove a company's websites from search results globally, not just in Canada. This ruling violates US law
and puts free speech at risk, the California court found.
When the Canadian company Equustek Solutions requested Google to remove competing websites claimed to be illegally using intellectual property, it refused to do so globally.
This resulted in a legal battle that came to a climax in June, when the Supreme Court of Canada ordered Google to remove a company's websites from its search results. Not just in Canada, but all over the world.
With options to appeal exhausted in Canada, Google took the case to a federal court in the US. The search engine requested an injunction to disarm the Canadian order, arguing that a worldwide blocking order violates the First Amendment.
Surprisingly, Equustek decided not to defend itself and without opposition, a California District Court sided with Google. During a hearing, Google attorney Margaret Caruso stressed that it should not be possible for foreign countries to
implement measures that run contrary to core values of the United States.
The search engine argued that the Canadian order violated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes Internet services from liability for content created by third parties. With this law, Congress specifically chose not to
deter harmful online speech by imposing liability on Internet services.
In an order, signed shortly after the hearing, District Judge Edward Davila concludes that Google qualifies for Section 230 immunity in this case. As such, he rules that the Canadian Supreme Court's global blocking order goes too far.
The ruling is important in the broader scheme. If foreign courts are allowed to grant worldwide blockades, free speech could be severely hampered. Today it's a relatively unknown Canadian company, but what if the Chinese Government asked Google
to block the websites of VPN providers?
For its updated news application, Google is claiming it is using artificial intelligence as part of an effort to weed out disinformation and feed users with viewpoints beyond their own filter bubble.
Google chief Sundar Pichai, who unveiled the updated Google News earlier this month, said the app now surfaces the news you care about from trusted sources while still giving you a full range of perspectives on events. It marks Google's latest
effort to be at the centre of online news and includes a new push to help publishers get paid subscribers through the tech giant's platform.
In reality Google has just banned news from the likes of the Daily Mail whilst all the 'trusted sources' are just the likes of the politically correct papers such as the Guardian and Independent.
According to product chief Trystan Upstill, the news app uses the best of artificial intelligence to find the best of human intelligence - the great reporting done by journalists around the globe. While the app will enable users to get
personalised news, it will also include top stories for all readers, aiming to break the so-called filter bubble of information designed to reinforce people's biases.
Nicholas Diakopoulos, a Northwestern University professor specialising in computational and data journalism, said the impact of Google's changes remain to be seen. Diakopoulos said algorithmic and personalised news can be positive for engagement
but may only benefit a handful of news organisations. His research found that Google concentrates its attention on a relatively small number of publishers, it's quite concentrated. Google's effort to identify and prioritise trusted news
sources may also be problematic, according to Diakopoulos. Maybe it's good for the big guys, or the (publishers) who have figured out how to game the algorithm, he said. But what about the local news sites, what about the new news sites that
don't have a long track record?
I tried it out and no matter how many times I asked it not to provide stories about the royal wedding and the cup final, it just served up more of the same. And indeed as Diakopoulos said, all it wants to do is push news stories from the
politically correct papers, most notably the Guardian. I can't see it proving very popular. I'd rather have an app that feeds me what I actually like, not what I should like.
Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, The Intercept can reveal.
The project, code-named Dragonfly, has been underway since spring of last year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official, according to internal Google documents and
people familiar with the plans.
Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named Maotai and Longfei. The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be
launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials.
Google's current search engine is blocked in China.
Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed disgrace details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.
The memo, authored by a Google engineer, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location -- and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner, presumably a proxy
for the government, who would have unilateral access to the data. This Chinese 'partner' would be able to edit the data controlling what should be censored.
The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system.
The Dragonfly memo reveals that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app for both Android and iOS devices, and would force users to sign in so they could use the service. The memo confirms, as The Intercept first
reported last week, that users' searches would be associated with their personal phone number. The memo adds that Chinese users' movements would also be stored, along with the IP address of their device and links they clicked on. It accuses
developers working on the project of creating spying tools for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.
People's search histories, location information, and other private data would be sent out of China to a database in Taiwan, the memo states. But the data would also be provided to employees of a Chinese company who would be granted unilateral
access to the system.
The memo identifies at least 215 employees who appear to have been tasked with working full-time on Dragonfly, a number it says is larger than many Google projects.
Ex Google boss predicts that the internet will split into a Chinese internet and a US internet
The internet will be divided into two different worlds within the next decade -- and China will lead one of them, according to ex- Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
He notes that the control the Chinese government wields over its citizens' online access means it is incompatible with the democratic internet of the west. This means there will be two distinct versions of the world wide web by 2028, one run by
China and the other by the US.
The process is already happening, with the so-called Great Firewall of China blocking Chinese citizens from accessing several of the internet's most popular websites, including Facebook and YouTube.
Prior to Google's bosses being called in to answer for its policy to silence conservative voices, it has filed a statement to court saying that even if it does discriminate on the basis of political viewpoints. It said:
Not only would it be wrong to compel a private company to guarantee free speech in the way that government censorship is forbidden by the Constitution, but it would also have disastrous practical consequences.
Google argued that the First Amendment appropriately limits the government's ability to censor speech, but applying those limitations to private online platforms would undermine important content regulation. If they are bound by the same First
Amendment rules that apply to the government, YouTube and other service providers would lose much of their ability to protect their users against offensive or objectionable content -- including pornography, hate speech, personal attacks, and
Google has been accused of blacklisting pro-life YouTube search entries ahead of last year's vote in Ireland on legalizing abortion. Pundits call it a deliberate manipulation and demand that the company be held accountable.
Allegations that Google's manual interference with YouTube search results may have played a role in the 2018 referendum on abortion in Ireland surfaced last week, when Project Veritas website published an insider-based article on the matter.
Blocked terms reportedly included abortion is murder, Irish Catholic, pro-life and other terms.
Google responded, saying that there was no distinction between pro-life or pro-choice queries on YouTube at the time and that their whole procedure was transparent.
This is hardly a credible response from Google, their processes are never transparent, so how can one believe the other half of the statement?
YouTube has a long censorship list, including the politically right, the politically incorrect, and anyone who may offend touchy corporate advertisers. So more or less anybody could fall foul at any time
You'd think YouTube would be keen on supporting creators who generate content and income for the company. But Google is obviously a bit too rich to care much, and so content creators have to live with the knowledge that their livelihoods could
easily be wiped out by even the most trivial of political or PC transgressions.
YouTube arbitrarily bans and demonitises those from a long list of no-noes, including being on the political right, offending the easily offended, being politically incorrect, or of course saying something corporate advertisers don't like.
Needless to say there is a long list of aggrieved creators that have an axe to grind with YouTube, and plenty more who are walking on eggshells trying to make sure that they are not the next victims.
And now they're fighting back. An obscure 'YouTubers union' has joined forces with IG Metall -- Germany an Europe's largest industrial union, to form the campaigning group FairTube.
FairTube has called for the following from YouTube and given it until 23 August to engage with it, or else.
Publish all categories and decision criteria that affect monetization and views of videos
Give clear explanations for individual decisions -- for example, if a video is demonetized, which parts of the video violated which criteria in the Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines?
Give YouTubers a human contact person who is qualified and authorized to explain decisions that have negative consequences for YouTubers (and fix them if they are mistaken)
Let YouTubers contest decisions that have negative consequences
Create an independent mediation board for resolving disputes (here the Ombuds Office of the Crowdsourcing Code of Conduct can offer relevant lessons)
Formal participation of YouTubers in important decisions, for example through a YouTuber Advisory Board
At first glance one may wonder if the union has any way to generate a little leverage over YouTube but they have been thinking up a few ideas:
Contesting the status of YouTube creators as self-employed, thus creating a greater duty of care on YouTube towards its creators.
Claiming GDPR violations due to YouTube's refusal to give creators the data it stores about them and which it does share with advertisers.
Old fashioned collective action -- not so much striking as spreading the word and joining the union to put collective pressure on YouTube and its own Google.