Google takes aim at blog porn

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GOOGLE is giving users of its blogging software a month to clean up sexually explicit content or lose most of their audience.

The ban in Blogger on “sexually explicit or graphic nude images” — basically adult content such as porn — takes effect on March 23, at which point any blogs in violation will be converted to a private status, Google said.

That means the blog will be visible only by the administrator and any person given permission to view it.

Google said it will still allow nudity on Blogger — as long as the material has artistic, educational or scientific benefits.

Blog owners can proactively set a blog to private status, or shut down the blog and take the content somewhere else.

New blogs created after March 23 could be taken down if Google finds the content in violation of its policies.

Those policies say Blogger bases itself on freedom of expression, but within boundaries that are legal or intended to “enhance the service as a whole.”

Google suggests that bloggers who use adult-type images, even if they’re not explicit, set the content as “adult,” to warn users who don’t want to see adult content. Google might choose to flag the blog as “adult” on its own. (Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s rule will certainly apply.)

Google’s move against porn echoes steps other social sites have taken to address explicit material. After Yahoo bought Tumblr in 2013, it first clamped down on “not-safe-for-work” content, but then backtracked partially.

Yahoo now nudges some blogs to identify as “NSFW” so people who choose not to see such content can steer clear. It still says in its community guidelines that it isn’t a place for sexually explicit video.

Blogger was one of the first widely used online tools for self-publishing and was purchased by Google in the early 2000s.

Since then, a number of blogging sites have popped up, including WordPress, Tumblr and the relatively new Medium (which counts Blogger founder Evan Williams among its creators). Medium says that content isn’t prescreened but that the company has the right to refuse it on any grounds. It is clear in its rules: no porn.

Google did not respond to a request for comment.

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