Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

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Quercus
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Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Quercus » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:02 pm UTC

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style ... 92942.html

A few days late, but I just found this news item. It seems faintly ridiculous to me. Below is one of the album covers involved, and I absolutely fail to see how that can be construed as sexually explicit (okay, so a group of young naked people running off into a wooded area may just about imply the possibility of sex, but that's sexually implicit, rather than explicit, and it may equally well imply the possibility of going swimming in a river). If it's not sexually explicit, the idea of classifying such nudity as "adult" strikes me as rather unfortunate.

Spoiler:
Image
(probably NSFW - full nudity, seen from the rear)

The other example shown is sexually explicit, but it's very stylised, does not show genitals, and is clearly intended to make an artistic/political statement rather than to titillate.

To sum up my view on this (as the interpretation given in the article is that Google is trying to dissociate itself from pornography), nudity =/= sex, sex =/= porn and porn =/= harmful (okay, so a lot of porn is harmful, for a variety of reasons, but it's not harmful just because it's sexually explicit).

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Adam H
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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Adam H » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:06 pm UTC

Well, you say yourself that the image is nsfw, so maybe Google is just trying to be SFW. It would be unfortunate for everyone if workplaces felt like they needed to block google.

I don't really understand the context of this topic though.
-Adam

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Mutex » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:57 pm UTC

I don't either. Google already has the means to filter NSFW images from its search.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Sizik » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:30 pm UTC

It pertains to Google's ad service, not their search engine.

Article wrote:Google said it could not comment on an individual case. A spokesman said: “Our policies for websites make clear that we will not serve ads to websites with adult or mature content. This policy has been in place for a long time and nothing has changed recently.
gmalivuk wrote:
King Author wrote:If space (rather, distance) is an illusion, it'd be possible for one meta-me to experience both body's sensory inputs.
Yes. And if wishes were horses, wishing wells would fill up very quickly with drowned horses.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Mutex » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:35 pm UTC

Oh I see (I'm at work so didn't want to click the link). If the OP felt the need to put the image behind a spoiler then it's probably not clean enough to show up next to search results. It would be embarrassing if your boss/teacher walked past while you had bare behinds on your screen because you were looking for something work/school related.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:04 pm UTC

Pretty much. I prefer that google be fairly SFW. Both the search engine and the ads. And gmail, etc. It is a handy work tool, and it'd be obnoxious to have to use Bing.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Sizik » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:26 pm UTC

It's not the ads themselves that are explicit, it's the site the ads are on. Google's pretty much saying, "Take down/censor this content we don't like or else we'll stop paying you money."
gmalivuk wrote:
King Author wrote:If space (rather, distance) is an illusion, it'd be possible for one meta-me to experience both body's sensory inputs.
Yes. And if wishes were horses, wishing wells would fill up very quickly with drowned horses.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Mutex » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:36 pm UTC

Really sorry, will read it properly when I'm home! Ok that is a very different situation. I don't see why Google should care what's on the websites they serve ads on. Even if it was full on hardcore porn, I don't get how it is even affecting them.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Derek » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:56 pm UTC

Brand reputation, mostly.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:56 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:It's not the ads themselves that are explicit, it's the site the ads are on. Google's pretty much saying, "Take down/censor this content we don't like or else we'll stop paying you money."


Oh...I misinterpreted. That's not new at all then. That's long been a part of the google advertising agreement for their ads. Most of the time, little guys don't receive any notice, their account is simply canceled, etc.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Djehutynakht » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:23 pm UTC

Are they going to go after all the websites that show Nirvana's famous swimming-baby album too?

I mean, I know as a private company this is less of a question of "rights" in the legal sense, but still.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Quercus » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:43 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Sizik wrote:It's not the ads themselves that are explicit, it's the site the ads are on. Google's pretty much saying, "Take down/censor this content we don't like or else we'll stop paying you money."


Oh...I misinterpreted. That's not new at all then. That's long been a part of the google advertising agreement for their ads. Most of the time, little guys don't receive any notice, their account is simply canceled, etc.


I figured that, but it surprised me how, well, sensitive they are on this. For me the level of nudity on that Sigur Ros cover doesn't even register as something notable, and certainly not enough to tarnish the reputation of any companies who advertise on the same page. I've actually had it playing on my computer at work, with the album art visible, for extended periods of time and it never occurred to me that I might want to cover it up - I only marked it as NSFW here because the article alerted me to the fact that some people might actually have an issue with it, and I'm aware that some people's workplaces are much stricter about these things than mine.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Crissa » Wed Jul 16, 2014 9:43 am UTC

So does this mean Google is going to censor all the historical libraries that have ad content?

Or is this only for the modern artists?

It seems hypocritical to try to force others to sanitize pages you're linking to. Music and art isn't always 'proper' in some conservative terms.

It's very offensive they'd even ask.

-Crissa

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:26 pm UTC

Offensive? That they have standards for advertising partners?

That seems like a pretty reasonable business decision.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Adam H » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:03 pm UTC

Just make sure that any argument you make to defend google can't also be made to defend, say, a store owner refusing to sell to minorities.

I'm all for letting businesses choose who they work with, but there's a line. I don't think Google is crossing the line, but I can see why this could be somewhat controversial.
-Adam

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Chen » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:Just make sure that any argument you make to defend google can't also be made to defend, say, a store owner refusing to sell to minorities.

I'm all for letting businesses choose who they work with, but there's a line. I don't think Google is crossing the line, but I can see why this could be somewhat controversial.


Deciding who you do business with, depending on what their business is, is a lot different than deciding who to do business with, because of person's race/sex/religion etc. The latter (such as your minority example) are generally considered protected classes and thus you cannot discriminate based on them. But choosing not to do business with someone because you don't like their business itself (for example, explicit websites in this case) is perfectly fine. It'd be akin to not letting a company that sells sexist T-shirts advertise in my newspaper. Or perhaps more aptly, choosing not to advertise my new childcare facility in a Playboy magazine.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Quercus » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:14 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Deciding who you do business with, depending on what their business is, is a lot different than deciding who to do business with, because of person's race/sex/religion etc. The latter (such as your minority example) are generally considered protected classes and thus you cannot discriminate based on them. But choosing not to do business with someone because you don't like their business itself (for example, explicit websites in this case) is perfectly fine. It'd be akin to not letting a company that sells sexist T-shirts advertise in my newspaper. Or perhaps more aptly, choosing not to advertise my new childcare facility in a Playboy magazine.


I'll agree with you there - a business has every right to refuse to do business on these grounds. My feeling is more that the fact that Google feels the need to go down this route in this case highlights a wider problem. The fact that the naked human body is considered to be in and of itself sexually explicit is a problem. The fact that it is considered in and of itself to be potentially offensive is a problem.

I don't quite agree with your analogies though - a company that sells sexist T-shirts is being actually offensive (see your discussion on protected categories), and an advert for a childcare facility in a Playboy magazine is both badly missing the target audience and associates children with something that is actually sexually explicit, neither of these concerns appear to apply to this story.

My reading of this story was more "wow, mainstream Western society is way more conservative than I realised", rather than "wow, Google is doing really bad stuff".

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 16, 2014 3:55 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:I don't quite agree with your analogies though - a company that sells sexist T-shirts is being actually offensive (see your discussion on protected categories), and an advert for a childcare facility in a Playboy magazine is both badly missing the target audience and associates children with something that is actually sexually explicit, neither of these concerns appear to apply to this story.


Can you guarantee that neither of those things happened with any ad served to those pages?

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Crissa » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:00 pm UTC

But A) It's not an explicit website and B) they're basically saying their need to sanitize art to a ridiculous degree to become a customer.

Why should I have to abide by the decency standards of India or Nebraska, when I live in Santa Cruz?

-Crissa

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jul 18, 2014 1:23 am UTC

Crissa wrote:But A) It's not an explicit website and B) they're basically saying their need to sanitize art to a ridiculous degree to become a customer.

Why should I have to abide by the decency standards of India or Nebraska, when I live in Santa Cruz?

-Crissa


That's how advertising relationships normally work. Seriously, welcome to business. There will be a LOT of standards you'll need to uphold if you want to get money from folks. Some companies will have you sign stuff like promises not to put their images on the internet in all sorts of arbitrary contexts(for instance, Games Workshop doesn't like pictures of it still in the box online). It's often about branding or whatever.

You don't HAVE to sign on, but it ain't a surprise. Indecency clauses are not really that odd. Advertising options exist without them, though. Google just happens to be a generally well regarded advertiser, in part because they DO enforce standards pretty strictly.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Crissa » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:13 am UTC

They're enforcing their standards upon a broad swath of communities where it is inappropriate.

And I totally am allowed to complain about that.

-Crissa

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby aoeu » Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:37 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:They're enforcing their standards upon a broad swath of communities where it is inappropriate.

And I totally am allowed to complain about that.

-Crissa

How do you know it's Google doing it, and not their customers?

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:18 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:They're enforcing their standards upon a broad swath of communities where it is inappropriate.

And I totally am allowed to complain about that.

-Crissa


They are not "enforcing" it. They simply do not wish to do business with certain categories of business. They ain't purging porn from the internet or anything here.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Quercus » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Quercus wrote:I don't quite agree with your analogies though - a company that sells sexist T-shirts is being actually offensive (see your discussion on protected categories), and an advert for a childcare facility in a Playboy magazine is both badly missing the target audience and associates children with something that is actually sexually explicit, neither of these concerns appear to apply to this story.


Can you guarantee that neither of those things happened with any ad served to those pages?


I thought I'd come back and answer this, apologies for missing it last week.

I can't guarantee it, but neither did I see any suggestion of either from anybody. Thinking further about it the second analogy might actually be a concern - if Google isn't sufficiently confident that its algorithm won't pair ads and content inappropriately it makes sense to disallow certain kinds of content rather than risk this.

I still hold that the first analogy is not the best though - it subtly conflates the issues in an unhelpful way. The primary reason not to allow sexist adverts is because they are offensive. Not doing business with someone because they are offensive is a different point to the one you are making. The only way the points align is if you argue that nudity and non-pornographic sexually explicit material are a priori offensive materials, rather than simply things which a business may not wish to be associated with for entirely pragmatic business reasons. It's fine if you want to argue this, but you should be clear about it either way.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Crissa » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:16 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Crissa wrote:They're enforcing their standards upon a broad swath of communities where it is inappropriate.

And I totally am allowed to complain about that.

-Crissa


They are not "enforcing" it. They simply do not wish to do business with certain categories of business. They ain't purging porn from the internet or anything here.

...Which enforces a standard upon communities that doesn't represent that community.

Really, is that so hard?

-Crissa

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Adam H » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:40 pm UTC

The only communities it enforces standards upon are the communities that must have google ads, which as far as I know do not exist.

It really comes down to who deserves to be in a protected group. Apparently nudists and people who like art do not.
-Adam

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Crissa » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:57 pm UTC

'must' is irrelevant to the 'enforce' part.

Although it could be pointed out that very few web-based businesses are going to succeed if they're blocked from listing themselves on Google.

...And my community is not nudist.

-Crissa

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Adam H » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:02 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:'must' is irrelevant to the 'enforce' part.

-Crissa

No, or we're just arguing pedantically. IMO Google is not forcing websites to do anything, they are just refusing to pay nsfw websites for the ad clicks. As all websites have other advertising options, there's no enforcing being done.
-Adam

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:26 pm UTC

Crissa wrote:'must' is irrelevant to the 'enforce' part.

Although it could be pointed out that very few web-based businesses are going to succeed if they're blocked from listing themselves on Google.

...And my community is not nudist.

-Crissa


This is not about being blocked from being listed on googles search engine. This is about merely being blocked from them displaying google's ads.

Google will list damn near anything.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby StapleHorseOctopus » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:29 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:
Crissa wrote:'must' is irrelevant to the 'enforce' part.

-Crissa

No, or we're just arguing pedantically. IMO Google is not forcing websites to do anything, they are just refusing to pay nsfw websites for the ad clicks. As all websites have other advertising options, there's no enforcing being done.


Except that this website is not NSFW, unless you are an extreme prude from some fundamentalist place.

Calling those covers NSFW equals calling pictures of Roman and Greek statues (and artists inspired by those esthetics) NSFW. Maybe Google should also consider prohibiting sites showing nude babies (NOT child porn) from using their advertising services. Genitals may be visible, after all. And that's terrible.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:47 pm UTC

StapleHorseOctopus wrote:Except that this website is not NSFW, unless you are an extreme prude from some fundamentalist place.

Calling those covers NSFW equals calling pictures of Roman and Greek statues (and artists inspired by those esthetics) NSFW. Maybe Google should also consider prohibiting sites showing nude babies (NOT child porn) from using their advertising services. Genitals may be visible, after all. And that's terrible.


The link at the top had a NSFW warning when linking to the article containing censored images of the art. That suggests that the images are indeed unsafe for work.

Images in which genitals are visible are usually described as such, yes. And...probably should not be viewed at work, unless you have an unusual job.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby speising » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:50 pm UTC

i only see buttocks in this image, no genitals.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:01 pm UTC

speising wrote:i only see buttocks in this image, no genitals.


Sorry, I did not mean to imply that this particular image had genitals, my second line was discussing his example of greek statuary, etc. Even if it IS art, you probably don't want to be looking at genitals when your boss walks in.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby speising » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
speising wrote:i only see buttocks in this image, no genitals.


Sorry, I did not mean to imply that this particular image had genitals, my second line was discussing his example of greek statuary, etc. Even if it IS art, you probably don't want to be looking at genitals when your boss walks in.

i didn't think you'd refer to that because that sounds just too absurd to me. you really think michelangelos david is nsfw? or an anne geddes baby?

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:09 pm UTC

Yeah, probably. It's borderline, I'll grant, and it's definitely not porn, but "not porn" is a much looser categorization than "NSFW". I'd certainly not seek such things out on a company computer or what not.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby StapleHorseOctopus » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:42 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Images in which genitals are visible are usually described as such, yes. And...probably should not be viewed at work, unless you have an unusual job.


I didn't know large sections of the medical field and large sections of animal sciences were "unusual jobs" :roll: . Most people in the medical field will see at least one nude person at a certain point in their career, in drawings, pictures and reality. Heck, as a plant biologist I am not immune to that kind of imagery, due to several sex-related terms being shared by animal and plant biology (although with slightly different definitions...).

I do wonder if this issue does not amount to American puritanism being forced down onto the rest of the world. Just like "Nipple-Gate" caused a terrible ruckus in the US, and mostly made us Yurpians wonder why people were getting so out of shape for a mere nipple in a non-sexual situation caused by a clothing mishap (see also Canada :lol: ). Genitals (and bare bums) may have a function during sexual situations, but they're also normal parts of the human body, which may end up exposed in certain situations. For example, people might end up naked during showering at sports clubs. This does not consist a sexual act. Nor do children bathing naked at a beach consist child porn. Artistic nudes are not porn, especially not Michelangelo's David, whose genitals are a) sculpted in the shrunken position, and b) clearly not intended to be of sexual intent.
Suggesting otherwise is ludicrous.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:09 pm UTC

StapleHorseOctopus wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Images in which genitals are visible are usually described as such, yes. And...probably should not be viewed at work, unless you have an unusual job.


I didn't know large sections of the medical field and large sections of animal sciences were "unusual jobs" :roll: . Most people in the medical field will see at least one nude person at a certain point in their career, in drawings, pictures and reality. Heck, as a plant biologist I am not immune to that kind of imagery, due to several sex-related terms being shared by animal and plant biology (although with slightly different definitions...).


If you have a work-related reason, cheers. But the average job does not have a work-related reason to see nudity.

Hell, someone could work in the porn industry, but that doesn't make porn safe for work. The goal is to tag things to avoid trouble, not to make some kind of all-inclusive categorization of only those things that NO workplace would allow. NSFW is a generic term. If it'd be generally inadvisable or might cause problems, use the tags.

I do wonder if this issue does not amount to American puritanism being forced down onto the rest of the world. Just like "Nipple-Gate" caused a terrible ruckus in the US, and mostly made us Yurpians wonder why people were getting so out of shape for a mere nipple in a non-sexual situation caused by a clothing mishap (see also Canada :lol: ). Genitals (and bare bums) may have a function during sexual situations, but they're also normal parts of the human body, which may end up exposed in certain situations. For example, people might end up naked during showering at sports clubs. This does not consist a sexual act. Nor do children bathing naked at a beach consist child porn. Artistic nudes are not porn, especially not Michelangelo's David, whose genitals are a) sculpted in the shrunken position, and b) clearly not intended to be of sexual intent.
Suggesting otherwise is ludicrous.


I did not claim it was porn. I explicitly said it was not. Something can be not porn, and yet still inappropriate for work. It's a different bar.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Adam H » Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:43 pm UTC

StapleHorseOctopus wrote:I do wonder if this issue does not amount to American puritanism being forced down onto the rest of the world.

Overreaction.

It's just courtesy. Some peoples don't want to look at naked bodies, and in a workplace it is often unavoidable that you happen to see your colleagues screens. That's what nsfw means, IMO. Not "porn", but "I didn't want to see that".

I don't think it's puritanical to enforce courtesy towards puritans.
-Adam

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby Mutex » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:04 pm UTC

The point is, Google refusing to do business with any site that has something only vaguely NSFW on their site seems to go way beyond just protecting the image of their brand.

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Re: Google tells music magazine to censor album covers

Postby MartianInvader » Tue Jul 22, 2014 4:19 pm UTC

Well, it's not just protecting their brand, it's protecting their revenue stream. A lot of the advertisers who advertise with Google don't want their ads to run next to pictures of butts, and Google has chosen to keep their business (and, indirectly, provide more money for their safe-content partners) over maintaining relationships with the sites that show that sort of content.
Let's have a fervent argument, mostly over semantics, where we all claim the burden of proof is on the other side!


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