There are a lot of blogging platforms that appeal to various demographics. One of the unifying themes is providing a space to freely express ideas, art, culture and essentially any other context desired. Users have the opportunity to expose themselves to all this and share their own in return. However, one of the oldest sites, Google’s Blogger, has decided that of March 23, pornographic blogs will be made private. Furthermore, blogs created after that date featuring adult content will be deleted. As a result of this, sexually explicit blogs will be completely phased out.
At a first glance, it may seem reasonable that Google decided to implement this policy. Someone young could be browsing blogs and unsuspectingly click on a link that introduces them to a world they had never before seen. Then again, that can happen anywhere on the Internet. This calls into question freedom of speech and expression. The very first paragraph of Blogger’s content policy stated, “Blogger increases the availability of information, encourages healthy debate, and makes possible new connections between people. It is our belief that censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression.” While adult content may not necessarily spark “healthy debate” per se, it is a form of expression, which is why this opening statement sounds so contradictory.
Exceptions can be made for purposes such as art, but that is left up to the discretion of Blogger’s employees, according to a statement released by Google. This grey area makes it difficult for bloggers to know when the material they post is acceptable or not. Someone may think they are within the guidelines, but then are suddenly made private by Blogger and lose a ton of readership on their blog. Links to posts and pictures on private blogs will also become useless. It is a domino effect that leaves everyone frustrated. Bloggers will now be stripped of the opportunity to expose themselves to a wide variety of content, and instead will have to rely on the discretion of Blogger’s employees.
A similar debate was faced in 2013 with Tumblr. The widely popular blogging site claimed it was going to remove adult content from searches entirely, but the backlash was so intense that it reverted the decision within 24 hours of implementing it. So why do people care? Sexual content has become a part of blogging culture. The entire purpose of these sites is to learn, explore and keep an open mind. There are posts you may like, dislike, that may infuriate you, and teach you something important about the world. Two posts down from a fluffy puppy picture could be a quote just waiting to give you an existential crisis. Cutting off Bloggers from their definition of “adult content” is hindering these experience that viewers are looking for. Bella Chamberlain, a freshman biology major at UT, also disagrees with this motion, stating , “Internet is the only media that is unfiltered. If adult content were to be banned, where would it stop?”
Content limitations are more justified on sites geared towards a younger demographic, such as Club Penguin, where there is a set list of banned words that block the user when used. This makes sense, since the majority of users are under the age of 10. However, this is not a blogging site. Blogs such as Tumblr and Google’s Blogger are meant for people over the age of 13, which makes limitations both unfair and unreasonable. By early teenage years, people have likely already been exposed to the harsh realities of the Internet. As an avid Tumblr user, I am well aware that there is a very real danger of inappropriate content popping up on my dashboard, which can be a problem when in public. Anyone I follow can reblog anything at anytime. Blogging is a pastime people do in the sanction of their room, knowing very well the content they are willingly choosing to expose themselves to.
People do not blog to shield themselves from adult content; they do it for the opposite. Hopefully Blogger comes to the same conclusion as Tumblr and changes its policy, or else many users will find themselves in search of a different platform.
Marisa Nobs can be reached at email@example.com.