This is how my Tuesday went — it started out with this tweet from my co-blogger Lori Awesome Pants, I mean Parker:
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After a few questions, I found out that the reasoning behind their downed blogs was because of “SPAM”. Google had marked their blogs as Spam.

I know my co-blogger and she is not a spammer. Google looks for “spam blogs” that post on Google Plus (another one of those violations of Terms of Service that will end your relationship with Google) and then Google will DELETE your blog. No big deal, right. Just a deleted blog. What does delete mean…? This is what delete means:

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Since I had left Blogger two years ago, I have not paid as much attention to the Blogger ins and outs as I should have. I hadn’t realized that in February of this year, Google updated their SPAM DETECTION which was going to specifically clamp down on false reviews on Google+ pages, and then this paste June they were said to update their Content Policy and TOS to crack down on unacceptable content on Blogger aka pornography. It actually states that it will look for blog content that is NOT ACCEPTABLE in the Google Universe, blogs that encourage abusive activity, porn, spam etc…you might have gotten a taste of this “CRACK DOWN” if you have your blog marked as ADULT CONTENT in Blogger’s settings. They don’t want to promote pornographic material, especially pornographic advertisements (their exact terminology is that they don’t want people monetizing pornographic material). Are erotica books pornographic in Google’s eyes — who knows, because Google doesn’t state that, but I’m pretty sure they will be if a “bot” is looking at the content. Are affiliate links to erotica books considered monetizing pornographic material? I wouldn’t think so, but Google might have other ideas. This is the exact email that went out on June 27th:

Lori_Parker__148_messages_

The thing about this whole mess, reading Google’s Content Policy it doesn’t state what they actually consider “ADULT” content to be. This, in my book, further exacerbates everyone’s confusion. They state that “including images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity” is what they consider adult content. A lot of Romance novels have couples engaging in some form of light sexual activity, touching, groping etc…will this be enough to set off Google’s alarms? Pair those type of covers with a link to a site like Ellora’s Cave, or something as banal as an Amazon affiliate link in the “erotica” category and you might find your blog marked as a take down.

The thing about this whole situation is that all the blogs that were taken down on the night of July 8th (and there were a lot of them) were emailed by Google and it was cited that they were removed because of SPAM. Spam — so what do they consider spam:

“Spam takes several forms in Blogger, all of which can result in deletion of your account or blog. Some examples include creating blogs designed to drive traffic to your site or to move it up in search listings, posting comments on other people’s blogs just to promote your site or product, and scraping existing content from other sources for the primary purpose of generating revenue or other personal gains.”

Ok – we get that. How many spam comments do we get that is just there to put a link?

BUT why were these blogs targeted? Google states that if a blog is flagged, either by their own Spam enforcement algorithm, or by someone clicking “REPORT ABUSE” at the top of your blogger page they will:

  • Put the blog behind a ‘mature content’ interstitial
  • Put the blog behind an interstitial where only the blog author can access the content
  • Delete the offending content, blog post or blog
  • Disable the author’s access to his/her Blogger account
  • Disable the author’s access to his/her Google account
  • Report the user to law enforcement

 

These blogs were DELETED. Taken down. 86d. I guess it was better then getting arrested. But do you see that — do you see what they will do if they think you’re in violation of any kind of TOS ??

There goes your gmail account, there goes your ENTIRE BLOG!!!!

These blogs did nothing wrong. It wasn’t like they were intentionally toeing the metaphorical Google line…

You won’t even be able to access you account to make a back-up. All that content that you have worked on for months, even years will be GONE. Poof. Bye. All because you want to use FREE software that they have control over. Software that is lorded over by a company that ACTS FIRST and then lets everyone sort out the shit later. They have done this repetitively over and over throughout the years. They do a mass purging and the innocent in the mix are left cleaning up.

Then things get even more screwed up as you check the forums and see the replies by Google employees as to why blogs were deleted for Spam. They are stating things that were detected on the blogs which flagged them…things like:

This forum post where a Google Contributor gives bullet points as to why Google flagged some blogs as Spam.

“Affiliate marketing (Please, don’t confuse this with “affiliate networking”!).”

[pullquote align=”left”]We are also assuming it has something to with “adult” content, just because of the email that went out on the 30th. It was stated as SPAM not content. This could happen to any blog, it doesn’t have to be Romance Lovers.[/pullquote]This is the first bullet point. And it is so freakin’ fuzzy logic that it makes my head want to burst. Networking, marketing — what is the different? The thing is, Google doesn’t seem to have a problem with our affiliate links, they have a problem with some spam sites that hijack affiliate links and large spam based sites, whose whole target is to just get affiliate sales, in some of these big round robin spamcapades. This is the reason you’ll see your site mirrored, or find your content scraped and published on other sites. They are trying to get the affiliate links.

So, based on this comment it shouldn’t be the Affiliate links.

Commercially funded adult content.

Another fuzzy piece of logic.  And I think this is where the Spam issue is coming up. The Golden Spam Algorithm is being achieved because of keywords that are coming up throughout these blogs, use of the term erotica, with links back to publisher sites and maybe you didn’t check off that adult content in your settings. Or maybe you got a free book, you are hosting a giveaway or you are in some way redirecting a link to an author’s site who has naked images on their blog and was marked as ADULT or PORNOGRAPHY when the Google Bots crawled her site.

The basis of the matter is this:

1. Google can revise their Content Policy, Terms of Service and other policies anytime they want.

2. Google has control of your blog because you use their Software, which is FREE

3. Google can choose to do whatever they feel like with your content, within the Terms of Service that they set forth. This TOS tries to be fair because they want people to use their service, but they always go trough a rough period when they change their policies

4. A Change of policy can mean your blog goes down for hours, days or sometimes weeks

5. If you are innocent your blog will probably be put back up, but you will have downtime

6. Because their software is free it will be a hotbed for Spammers and people doing Illegal Actives, this means Google will always have to police their software. In political terms, this is called a Police State. It is like living in the bad part of town, even though you are not breaking any laws, you’ll probably be subject to the same suspicion that they place on your neighbor who is selling crack out of their garage. And if any sort of red flag goes up, you’ll be subject to those penalties.

7. Bloggers that use the program Blogger get the benefit of a Free and easy-to-use software, but they will never have full control of their blog. With Google’s aptitude for change, low rated customer service, fuzzy logic and hard to understand policy and algorithms it is always a chance that something like this can happen to you. And there is never a guarantee that you will come back form it.

I have researched this event and others before it, because it does happen about once a year and I never fully understand what exactly they are looking for. But, frankly, they are using automated systems to make decisions that impact your day-to-day. Automated systems that are given strings like this:

Affiliate Links + Suspected Adult Content + Word=Erotic + Word=Sex = Red Flag

Once you get the Red Flag and get pushed into the “Suspected category” do you think they have a team of “experts” sitting their  pouring over your blog to check if it is a porn site, if it is a spam site? No! They are not doing that. They pull it down – and not until you go into an APPEALS process will they actually get someone with a discerning brain to look at your site and put a stamp of approval on it. This means a HUMAN will not process your site until after it is already taken down.

Are you guys getting what I’m pushing? Basically, you get what you pay for. You want a free software, expect a free service. Expect to have to deal with hiccups. Blogger software can be a great software, but if you want reliability and to know that your blog will ALWAYS be there, you are going to have to make the investment.

50% of Hosting for your Website at GoDaddy.com!

This is an affiliate add that will get you the hosting for $2.99 a year.

My investment is about $75 a year. Other bloggers I’ve heard pay upwards of $25 to $100 a month. I think my investment is cheap. I use a company called GoDaddy and I stay with them because their customer service is amazing. They sell you a shared hosting service, which means you and a few other sites will all share the same server. It is the price you pay for the low monthly rates. You can get GoDaddy for as little as $2.99 a month, which is a great price. I do have an affiliate relationship with them, but I am also a customer (I’m not just a spokesperson, I’m also a client – Bosley for men) and I wouldn’t push their service if I didn’t really like it. I’ve gone with a lot of other hosts companies. A lot – and they are the company I’m sticking with now. This could change in the future, but right now, I’m content. There is also 1 click WordPress Install which makes life a lot easier. Switching to wordpress isn’t as hard as you think. The software is also very similar to Blogger, just a little different. Like comparing Pages to Word. Does the same thing, just looks a bit different.

But it is a scary process that can be intimidating. My suggestion would be to find someone that has done it, search for tutorials and ask a lot of questions. Yet, if you feel that Blogger is still the software for you…remember this post when you get ready to tweet:

Google Deletes Blogs

Are you on Blogger? Do you think the Free status is worth it?

Happy Thursday. Talk Less. Read More. Blog with Integrity. Have a question you want answered on the BB101? Fill out the form below.

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