On Google Plus – No Country For NSFW People

by Violet Blue on July 10, 2011

I’m being asked through various channels if I’m on Google+ – yes, indeed. You can find me at:

gplus.to/violetblue

Currently, G+ is not very sexy – though I did terraform with a few sexy photos in my galleries. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and has some great functionality, but I haven’t charged into it like my tech colleagues and counterparts because it has significant limitations. Especially for creating a free and open place to share. I don’t think a lot of people realize yet that the default photo and image albums are Picassa, which has zero tolerance for nudity or borderline content, and does not offer users content rating controls (such as the ability to mark things as “moderate” or “restricted”) to remain within the Picassa/G+ content guidelines. I have already seen artists (in one case, a painter) trying to creatively set content advisory warnings for their work. I also see people expressing they’re glad that ‘because of Circles’ they won’t have to worry about mom seeing their nekkid photos by accident, like on Facebook.

This worries me very, very much.

Google+ should take a page from Flickr, or better yet, Blip.tv‘s excellent user-administered content rating system. In my opinion, they need to address this ASAP or they will have a disaster on their hands. Having your Facebook account yanked for alleged ToS violation with no way to fight it or find out what you did wrong is one thing; losing your Google account over oblique ToS enforcement is another entirely. I don’t need to recount or link to the many innocent ToS violation stories (not even my own) that have come out of Flickr, Facebook and many others over the past several years.

Meanwhile, the User Content and Conduct Policy for Google+ has already been changed by G+ since the mass joins over the past week. In this post, I outlined the restrictions people may not be aware of:

The sexually explicit rule used to include a line about nudity with artistic merit being acceptable. They removed that, which is very disappointing.

It’s very streamlined and very interesting. It places between Facebook and Twitter: not as strict and impractical as Facebook, but not as open as Twitter. Because of this, wider use of Google+ will be limited until they add the ability for users to create content ratings – there is nudity in the world. On the flipside, I applaud the inclusion of sexual orientation/gender identity. Highlights of what’s not allowed on Google+:

1. Illegal Activities

Do not use our products to engage in illegal activities or promote dangerous and illegal acts.

3. Hate Speech

Do not distribute content that promotes hatred or violence towards groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.

10. Sexually Explicit Material

Do not distribute content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. Do not drive traffic to commercial pornography sites. Your Profile Picture cannot include mature or offensive content. For example, do not use a photo that is a close-up of a person’s buttocks or cleavage. [Link to G+ content policy.]

No nudity – yet no user controls in case we post a news item or article about art, and need to err on the side of caution? That’s why I’m waiting and watching, and not putting too much into building our community – yet. Honestly: I wish I could advise companies on this stuff to keep everyone safe in their zones. Let me know if you want invites in the comments, I’ll send them your way.

Image via canv.as.

* I included Illegal Activity above in my excerpt because it’s almost salaciously vague. Do they mean links to BitTorrent sites, or things illegal in other countries, such as are included in Yahoo’s ToS? That won’t do me any good in Libya ;)

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - Google Plus - Flickr - YouTube - Reddit

{ 36 comments }

1 Gamesmaster35 November 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

It’s a shame that there are people in the world that just won’t allow people to grow up.Yes sex happens and the internet has classically been a place where people can openly explore that.This circle program is such a great innovation perfect for adult content I just don’t see why they can’t allow a ratings system.

2 Dangerous Lilly August 1, 2011 at 4:21 am

Welp, as of this morning I’ve been banned from G+

It’s both a shock and not. A disappointment, yet I knew it was coming down the pipeline.

3 violet blue July 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Michael, thanks for posting that. I’m going to have to do a bigger article about this now.

Also, check out Camille Crimson’s concise post about why she won’t be using G+

http://camillecrimson.com/blog/2011/07/google-doesnt-like-blowjobs/

4 Michaelk42 July 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Yeah, didn’t take long at all: http://youranonnews.tumblr.com/post/7669081787/didnt-take-long-to-get-banned-from-google-our

I didn’t think Google would tolerate even links to Anonymous shenanigans very well.

5 NellaLou July 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I placed a link to this post, among several other links, in one of my G+ updates and the link has been removed. The post and other links remain. Perhaps others can check to verify if this site is being censored.

6 Crysta July 12, 2011 at 9:06 am

My boyfriend (an avid hater of Facebook) has recently been invited to G+ and seems pleased, although I will be interested to have a conversation with him about it in light of this information. Thanks for sharing, as usual.

I’ll take an invite if you’ve still got them around!

7 mike wood July 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

I can see a lot of people – with artistic reasons to post, holding off on posting content of various sorts because of these vague rules. As Google is global, if they use the lowest common denominator for what is acceptable, would a photo of a woman driving a car be censored as it is illegal in Saudi Arabia? What if someone complains from Saudi Arabia about such a photo, will there be any recourse or dialog? I really hope it will be not like Flickr and FB. Early goings, but still. :/

8 Kate Black July 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Between that and their copyright issues, G+ doesn’t hold much appeal for me.

Flickr once suspended my account over an “adult” image in my stream that was marked at the lowest safety level. The image? An illustration from a 1940s children’s schoolbook. What was considered okay for 8 year olds in the 1940s was too adult for Flickr in 2010.

9 Jen W. July 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I’m hearing about a lot of privacy concerns with G+, since it’s using Google’s base policy that says they own everything that gets put up there. Which makes me think twice about having my blog up there.

10 Chris B July 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Hey if you have more invites…

The thing about community standards is that I would want them to be clearly defined. I’ve been using Flickr for years and was pretty much left in the cold when they changed their standards in the wake of the Yahoo purchase. The site went from being pretty easy going about skin to full on “think of the children” and their decisions were final without appeal (as I recall, it’s been a while). With a moderated account, I couldn’t share pictures of the Space Needle or a sunset because I also had burlesque pictures on my stream. Which made it… useful? I guess?

Mind you, after five years shooting burlesque, I’m pretty jaded so pasties should make it safe. Community standards of the show, right? ;)

So, yeah, tell me that a bare breast is Moderate, the hint of curve with no exposure is fine and… spell it out, I’m delighted. “Think of the children” is all but useless in my line of work.

11 violet blue July 11, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Invites all sent out, I still have more left!

Thanks for commenting everyone. Some people on Google+ are recommending that I file bug report with Google about it. I will later today, but I have to admit I’m a bit cynical about it.

12 Marv July 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hi VB, just wondering what your opinion is on the issue of Google seemingly disallowing pseudonyms on G+ ?

13 Frankie Lemmon July 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

It will be interesting to see how quickly Google moves on these issues. There has to be some recognition of the fact that sex happens and there is a mega-billion$$ industry attached to that fact. The other reality is that the internet has made it possible for many of us to self-express about sex and sexual identity and Google+ needs to allow for that to happen if it wants to participate in a broader online community. Instead of banning things they could provide user-controlled filters as they already do with their search engine.

Violet, if you have any invites left, I’ll certainly take one in the interest of exploring the limits on Google+

14 Em July 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

If invites are still available I would love to check it out. Thank you!

15 Dangerous Lilly July 11, 2011 at 6:48 am

I’m a little baffled because I’d not heard about the Picassa “no nudity” thing and accounts being shut down. When I first started my sex blog, it was on Blogspot and I knew *nothing*. So I stupidly associated my whole entire blogspot account with my only gmail address at the time – my personal one. It took a reader to point out to me that when I replied back to their comment via email that it listed my full, real name. OOPS. It only took a few months for me to decide to go self-hosted but my blog photos still remained in a Picassa album attached to my personal gmail account. The photos are NOT safe for work. There is bare cunt, bare nipples, bare ass….and I was never called out on it. In fact I forgot about it until I got invited to join G+ on my blog email address.

And when I happened to look at my photos….I saw these other albums. Albums attached to my personal gmail account. I was able to delete them from G+ (even tho I’m on there as my blog-identity I still don’t feel the need to blatantly put my cunt out there for all who add me to their circles) but I’m still baffled as to why on earth G+ pulled those from another email account.

Given that Google owns Blogspot and they’re quick to slap on that forced warning page for Blogspot blogs if there’s any reports of (sex), I don’t think that G+ will be any more adult-friendly than Facebook.

16 Roderick July 11, 2011 at 6:33 am

I also would appreciate an invite, make it a birth gift for me :)

17 Kendra Holliday July 11, 2011 at 4:13 am

Thanks for this report, I’ve been really curious if G+ would be my new home for free expression. Sounds more repressive than facebook. Female nipples are taboo there – now cleavage is verboten?! I wish our society wasn’t so afraid of sex, it’s slowing us down terribly. Replace the fear with love, people.

18 Gavin July 11, 2011 at 3:45 am

would love an invite if you still have any left

Great blog btw keep up the good work

19 I.G. Frederick July 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Would appreciate an invite. I’m in the wait-and-see category of whether or not I’ll embrace G+, although I would like to get on board and look around. But given that FB seems to be getting more obnoxious by the day, I’m hoping this develops into a viable alternative.

Thanks much.

I.G.

20 bairdduvessa July 10, 2011 at 9:11 pm

1. i added you on there if that is okay
2. i hope they allow a content thing as well. not for any perv reasons, i just would like to see that, so there is the option for adults to BE adults.

21 walker July 10, 2011 at 9:01 pm

maybe they will come up with some kind of filter like they have with the ” google search ” .

22 Popzealot July 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I lost both of my facebook accounts (one for my students, and one for friends), and all the photos (many great photo-shop amalgams) when a pro-lifer i was pwning reported me for having two.

That was back in the day, when it was spreading like an STD on college campuses.

Since facebook took-off, though, and added all the not-so-private default settings…. my whole family’s on it now, and I’m sort of glad I’m not bothering with it.

;-)

ToS inanity aside, Google+ looks interesting. I would like to try it (hint hint nudge nudge.. is she a go’er?)

23 violet blue July 10, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Invites sent, still have more. Hope it’s going to be fun! Thanks for the kind words :)

Lynda – that’s insane. I’m really glad you shared that story. This is sounding less and less like a great thing.

24 Cody July 10, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I would love to be invited if you’re still sending them out
I love your blog and podcasts!
Thanks for spending so much time online with your readers

25 Lynda July 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

This is sad. I linked to an article that contained topless nudity and the very first response was, “Reported!”

Incredibly stupid, especially since I plastered NSFW all over it and the thumb image wasn’t indecent.

26 Joy July 10, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Would love to be invited if you still have invites. Love your blog, I read every post!

27 Epiphora July 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm

This is exactly what I feared, and why I was wary of people flailing about how much better G+ is than Facebook. I’m especially worried about what would be done with Google accounts that are deemed violations of the TOS.

28 Mateo de la Rioja July 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I too have been watching from a distance to see how this issue plays out. I think this is one of the areas where circles are useful; as long as you are not publicly broadcasting material that may be considered offensive by some, it may be possible to fly under the radar. However, I could not agree more that G+/Picasa need a content rating system; that way, users are free to choose what they want to see.

29 violet blue July 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Cecilia – I had reservations even posting a link to this blog, even though I know it’s pretty high on Google’s *general* radar: while major news outlets link here routinely, some others claim they won’t because it’s “porn” so I’m very familiar with the problems of interpretation. No definition of commercial pornography is *definitely* troubling.

CS – I’m already in Diaspora, thank you! I wrote this review of it for CBSi/ZDNet:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/violetblue/diaspora-in-pictures-a-candid-walkthrough-in-alpha/191

30 violet blue July 10, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Jim, just sent it your way. Let me know if you need a resend :)

31 Jim Pickering July 10, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hi Violet:

Would appreciate an invite to G+ is you still have one.

Thanks.

32 Cecilia Tan July 10, 2011 at 3:31 pm

“Do not drive traffic to commercial pornography sites.”

That’s worrisome since of course by some definitions even my personal blog could be considered “commercial pornography.” Yeah, sure, much of what I post there is stuff like my strawberry chocolate chip muffin recipe, but I also post sexually explicit chapter excerpts of my recent books. And circlet.com could easily be construed as such. (Project Wonderful, fortunately, considers us OK.)

33 CS July 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm

Hey,
Welcome/congratulations in joining G+. Indeed it too early to tell if this becomes what Facebook is not but it sure has potential, I think. Embarrassingly I don’t know much about all these topics that have people hot a bothered, use Facebook too infrequently to care and have no invite to join G+.
Also you may be interested to know that last summer another social project was launched called Diaspora, which attempted to address those aforementioned Facebook issues, and to that one I managed to score an invite. Unfortunately it is all a little to tech for my depth but it might be worthy of the research of a smart girl like you. If you want to give it a spin drop me a line, I have a few invites left.
https://joindiaspora.com/

34 violet blue July 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Michaelk42 – nice rating.

Library Vixen – thank you so much for sharing that story. It underscores what’s not being communicated by the G+ and its ancillary properties, and the penalties people face. Or have to live with, as in your situation.

That really sucks. They need to fix this.

35 Library Vixen July 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Great post!
About a year ago my Picasa account was suspended (as was my blogspot shutdown), so now on G+ I am unable to link my instagram photos and am unable to view anyone’s linked “picasa” photos because of the suspension and direct connection to Picasa.

It is pretty frustrating, because I do consider myself a Google girl, but the restrictions make not want to be– plus I have a lot of content in the Google cloud– which makes me nervous with all the regulation and terms of service.

36 Michaelk42 July 10, 2011 at 3:13 pm

You could say…

it’s rated G+

/Yeeeeeaaaahh

In any case, Your Anon News hasn’t been kicked off yet, I’ve noticed. We’ll see if that gets nailed under #1 somehow.

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