Tuesday, 24 February 2015

No sex, please, we're Google


Google has banned adult content on its Blogger service, threatening to tear down blogs that host sexually explict images. In a sudden reversal of its previous stance that "censoring this [adult] content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression", Google has given Blogger users just a month to censor their blogs or face having them removed from public view. 
"Starting March 23, 2015, you won't be able to publicly share images and video that are sexually explicit or show graphic nudity on Blogger," the company's new Adult content policy states, noting it will make an exception on "nudity if the content offers a substantial public benefit, for example in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts."
Google says blogs which contain adult content will be made "private" - for viewing by their owners only - unless all "sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video" are removed by March 23. Google previously required blogs hosting adult content to categorise their sites as such, which should make it easier for the company to identify potential infringements among the millions who use the service. 
The reasons for Google's sudden policy swing are unclear. Google is making no visible effort to sanitise its search results beyond the long-established Safe Search filters, although the timing does coincide with another Google initiative to make its services more palatable for children.
YouTube for Kids
The company yesterday launched YouTube Kids, a version of its video app tailored for younger viewers. Google says "parents can rest a little easier knowing that videos in the YouTube Kids app are narrowed down to content appropriate for kids".
It's not clear if all of the content for YouTube Kids - which is currently only available in the US on Android and iOS - has been handpicked or merely shows videos that are categorised as suitable for children. The facility to disable the search engine in YouTube Kids suggests it's the latter. 
Aside from refining the content, YouTube Kids also has a revamped interface and a timer, which allows parents to limit the amount of time their sproglets spend watching Minecraft videos, without having to physically wrestle the device from their hands.