In three days, Google's Blogger will begin to delete scores of blogs that have existed since 1999 on Monday under its vague new anti-sex-ad policy purge.
On Wednesday night at around 7pm PST, all Blogger blogs marked as "adult" were sent an email from Google's Blogger team.
The email told users with "adult" blogs that after Sunday, June 30, 2013, all adult blogs will be deleted if they are found to be "displaying advertisements to adult websites" — while the current Content Policy does not define what constitutes "adult" content.
To say that Twitter ignited with outrage would be an understatement. Blogger users are panicked and mad as hell at Google.
Google announced in August 2009 that Blogger (originally founded by Twitter's Evan Williams) officially turned 10 years old and had "millions" of blogs.
Since today Tumblr has 118.9 million blogs, it's safe to assume that Blogger is going to erase tens of thousands of blogs (likely many more) from the Internet with next to no notice.
If Blogger deleted most of its NSFW blogs in its purge, it would break more of the Internet than you think. For instance, my personal blog (since 2001) could see nearly 500 "adult" blogspot.com links go dead.
Blogger's email to its NSFW users states,
[...] we will be updating our Content Policy to strictly prohibit the monetization of Adult content on Blogger
[...] If your adult blog currently has advertisements which are adult in nature, you should remove them as soon as possible as to avoid any potential Terms of Service violation and/or content removals.
We have a gigantic range of users on Blogger's NSFW killing floor. It's essential to understand that a good amount of those blogs have had the "adult" label applied to them by Blogger itself, deserved or not.
Currently, Blogger blogs marked as "adult" include personal diaries, erotic writers, romance book editors and reviewers, sex toy reviewers, art nude photographers, film-makers, artists such as painters and comic illustrators, text-only fiction writers, sex news and porn gossip writers, LGBT sex activism, sex education and information outlets, fetish fashion, feminist porn blogs, and much, much more.
It's safe to say that most of the people who will be affected by this are not tech savvy — this isn't an insult, but people who have Blogger blogs are not going to be techies.
Sex toy reviewer Hey Epiphora wrote in Blogger is leaving adult bloggers out in the cold; what now? (site NSFW),
Adult bloggers have just been dealt a huge blow by the powers that be over at Google. Currently, Blogger allows adult content as long as it is marked as such in your settings. But now they don’t want you to make a cent from an adult blog.
Does this apply to other blogs hosted with them? Nope, just adult ones.
In its post, Hey Epiphora has practical advice for Blogger users who are scared and confused — read it if you're targeted in Google's Blogger crackdown.
Hey Epiphora details options and drawbacks if users stay on Blogger (back up everything), move to WordPress.com (monetizing not allowed), move to Tumblr (its adult blogs are not indexed by Google), and go self-hosted (not free).
In addition to the robots.txt search ghetto, Tumblr TOS have long prohibited the monitization behavior that Google is newly forbidding.
— ErosBlog Bacchus (@ErosBlogBacchus) June 28, 2013
There are just a few days for a lot of people to suddenly learn some new tech, though I fear some people will be overwhelmed in the short time frame, and give up.
Fortunately, there are a few solutions where writers, artists, and, yes, the porny people can move to self-hosted solutions with somewhat minimized headaches.
DreamHost reached out to me on Twitter to say they're simple to use and sex-positive, and are totally happy to take all the business that Blogger is about to throw away — because you know that if given the option, tens of thousands of people would pay Blogger for a premium account to avoid the hassle of packing everything up and moving out by Monday.
DreamHost has a one-click WordPress installation, then instructions for moving from Blogger to Wordpress.
Hostgator has this easy guide, How Can I Transfer My Blogger Site to HostGator Hosting?
GoDaddy is also an option, with one-click WordPress installs and pricing plans with customer support, but keep in mind that sometimes it's a Bad Daddy.
Since Blogger categorizes everything from 50 Shades reviewers and fiction writers to velvet blacklight painters as "adult", we can only guess what Blogger will qualify as ads that are "adult in nature."
Will this include Amazon Associates links that an erotic author has to her own books?
Will Blogger delete 10 years of work by a naughty-superhero comic artist because she affiliate links to websites that sell passes to view or download her work?
Will sex toy safety reviewers have their blogs removed because they affiliate link to ethical sex toy companies?
And the porn review blog by a woman, aimed at couples, that ad-links to queer feminist porn websites ... will their contributions to the cultural conversations we're all having about these issues be wiped clean, too?
The fact is, no one is making tons of money off porn ads or affiliate links.
The porn ad business has dried up, and the well went dry for affiliate sales off ads years ago.
The same effect that tube sites and filesharing had on the mainstream porn industry has duplicated for online porn ads and porn affiliate revenue sales.
With this move, Blogger — Google — isn't quashing blogs that are raking in the dough; no one is a millionaire from their Blogger porn ads, nor are Blogger users making anywhere near what employees make at Blogger.
Erotic expression is protected speech, and pornography is not illegal.
Blogger/Google is a company, and may do as it pleases with its products — but that maxim is a red herring when cultural shocks like NSA's Prism (domestic spying program) shines a light on the very real role Google embodies as a public utility.
I'd be inclined to think this coming purge is about neither adult themes nor advertisement, but security issues with porn ads that contain malware.
Perhaps it's a convenient combination of security issues and Google making a move closer to Apple — getting rid of things it just doesn't like, changing the application of policy in the middle of the game under the banner of cracking down on porn commerce.
In the end, we remain confused at Google/Blogger's backward steps with its vague aggression on its NSFW users, and oncoming neo-puritan purge.
The change makes me sad. The world is becoming a place where human sexuality and the varied businesses around it are out in the light, where we can decide for ourselves whether or not we are ready for it. Why isn't Google keeping up with us?
Woe to the Blogger user who got this notice but is offline for the weekend, in the hospital or recovering from surgery, has a family emergency, or had the email go into their spam folder.