(UPDATED) Google, Reddit Move to Ban Nude Images

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After largely taking a hands-off approach to their online communities in the past, Google and Reddit issued separate anti-porn edicts this week.
After largely taking a hands-off approach to their online communities in the past, Google and Reddit issued separate anti-porn edicts this week.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated. Please see below the original story.

Google and Reddit issued separate anti-pornography edicts this week, a crack down on content by two companies that have largely taken a hands-off approach to their online communities in the past.

Last week,  who used the company’s Blogger.com product with a warning that “sexually explicit” material would soon be banned. Google says it will not purge blogs that contain sexual material — including “graphic” images and videos — but will restrict viewership of those blogs to publishers and those whom publishers have “expressly shared the blog” once the policy goes into effect in March.

Blogs that host adult material will also fall off Google’s search engine results. Google will still allow nude images that present “artistic, educational, documentary or scientific contexts.”

The new policy is the latest effort by Google to shed pornography websites from Blogger. In 2013, the company announced it would ban publishers who use the service to host sex blogs alongside adult-oriented advertisements. Previously, Google allowed sex blogs as long as publishers flagged their sites as containing adult content.

Read more: BUSTED! FBI Arrests Google Employee Over Nude Photo Scam

In another anti-pornography decree handed down this week, the social media website Reddit also announced it would block users from publishing nude photos on its website. But while Google’s anti-porn maneuver is based on the company’s own policy of self-censorship, Reddit’s appears to be more about protecting privacy.

Under a new privacy policy, Reddit will now prohibit nude and sexually suggestive images of people posted in a community without the express permission of the person depicted.

Reddit gained international attention for all the wrong reasons last year after users began uploading nude photos of celebrities after the images were allegedly stolen from compromised e-mail and cloud storage accounts. Reddit took a hands-off approach to the situation, something that was criticized by celebrities and privacy advocates — and something that Reddit’s interim CEO now says was a mistake.

“We missed a chance to be a leader when it comes to protecting your privacy,” company executive Ellen Pao wrote in a note published on the site. “We’re learning together as we go, and today’s changes are going to help grow Reddit for the next ten years and beyond.”

Read more: Reddit Co-Founder’s Legacy Lives on in New Documentary

Unlike Google, Reddit isn’t banning porn outright — something that has confused some users of the social media website. Some questioned whether professionally created pornography — where studios are required to get both permission and proof of age from performers — constitute “permission” under Reddit’s new privacy policy or whether those images would also be prohibited.

But Reddit administrators say the new privacy policy isn’t intended to target professional or amateur porn.

“This addition to the privacy policy just formalizes something that we have wanted to do for a while regarding instances of revenge porn and identity theft,” site administrator “Sporkicide” wrote. “There’s no problem with someone posting pictures of themselves, but we wanted to make it clear to users who have had phones hacked, a vengeful ex, or any other situation where they may have lost control of personal sexual images that they have a way to contact us for assistance.”

Reddit says its new privacy policy will go into effect on March 10.

UPDATE: Less than a week after Google announced its decision to ban adult content, the Internet giant , now saying it will allow sexually explicit content. Google said the policy reversal was based on user feedback.


Matthew Keys is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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