Tuesday, February 26, 2019

It Could Happen to Anyone

UPDATE: Since this post was composed, Diane has posted a comment below that her original blog at has been restored without any explanation. However, the story of what happened is still relevant and might provide useful information to fellow bloggers.

Over the weekend, a fellow blogger (Diane) sent an email and a link to her new blog to alert fellow bloggers that her former blog was suddenly and unexplainably terminated.

In her first post titled 
"The Behemoth squashes the little Lavender Dreamer" on her new blog, Diane writes: "Why and how was it done? It wasn't someone reporting us. It was Google's automated piece of software (a bot) that roams the blogger world looking for pre-programmed words of woe. Once it detects something it kills the whole blog without warning. Without any notification about these supposed offending words. Without an opportunity to fix anything. Just ZAP and your digital life is deleted. Everything is gone! Ten years of blogging, thousands of posts, many thousands of photos, over 10,000 comments and a hundred thousand heart-felt words all gone in an instant. Devastating! Be warned all you innocents in blogland."

Diane states that this had happened twice earlier and the aftermath. She also describes what she's been trying to do since this latest removal and adds this request: "Please let people know where I am and what has happened to me. I will post updates on the process at our new blog."

What happened to Diane is not an isolated incident in the blog world and isn't just confined to folks using Blogger. There's been many similar cases where a blog has been removed without notice.

In one case, a blogger on another blog platform had an account focused on art, photography and fashion removed. The blogger learned that the blog platform had received complaints about misuse of copyrighted material under terms of the 1988 U.S. copyright law, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which you can read a summary of about here and in its entirety here.

Another example was a 10-year+ blog that included posts about art, fiction and often sensitive topics. Goggle deleted the blog without notice and it's no longer accessible to its author. The blog writer had posted about male escorts but wasn't sure if this triggered a Google censor; the site included a warning on its adult content. The author didn't believe the blog violated Blogger policies which prohibit ads for or links to pornographic sites. Since then, the blogger has taken legal measures to try and retrieve the blog contents.

Last week after clicking on a bookmarked link to Diane's former blog this notice from Blogger showed that the blog had been removed. This wasn't the first time I had seen this same notice. In a few cases, I had read elsewhere (on another blog) that the blogger had passed away. In other cases, I "assumed" that the blog author had stopped blogging, but now know that may not have been true for everyone. 
There are many reasons why Blogger can shut down/delete a blog. Some of those listed  on a Blogger Support site are easily understood; others were less known to myself. Here's  a few red flags that could led to a blog shutdown:

Content Scraping refers to copying content from other blogs to your own blog to make it look like your post is unique, when it is not.

Sharing Illegal Content refers to info that cannot be publicly shared such as tips on hacking, cracking software codes, and spam. Google has deleted blogs that it "sees" as Spamming. (It's why I have become more diligent on deleting spam comments from our blog, but it does require daily checking as low-life spammers are very persistent.)

Copyright infringement means exactly what it says. If the blog platform receives complaint(s) that your blog contains copyrighted material, your blog account can be shut down, erasing all the posts, photos. In complying with the DMCA and other applicable copyright laws, Blogger will remove content considered copyright infringement and, in some cases, Blogger accounts have been terminated. 

Promotion of regulated goods and services refers to the fact that Blogger prohibits the promotion or sale of regulated goods and services: alcohol, gambling, pharmaceuticals and unapproved supplements, tobacco, fireworks, weapons, or health/medical devices.

Frequent Publishing sounds unusual, but If you publish too often on a daily basis, Google might not think you're a bot vs.human and will delete blogs it considers as bot-controlled. 

Hate speech while Blogger doesn’t remove blogs that post insults or negative commentary, even if some think it should, it will remove those promoting or condoning violence against or have a primary focus of inciting hatred against an individual or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, or any characteristic associated with discrimination.

Harassment or bullying are prohibited and (quite definitely) causes for removal.

Child safety refers to when a blog has content exploiting children, and Blogger will delete it and report it the blog to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Nudity, or adult content has two sides. Blogger prohibits posting adult material used for commercial gain or containing ads and links to commercial porn websites, illegal sexual content, including image, video or textual content that depicts or encourages rape, incest, bestiality, or necrophilia. Other adult content is allowed, however, anyone can flag content he/she finds offensive and Blogger may display a warning before anyone can view flagged material.

In any of the above instances, Blogger can do the following:
  • Remove the content.
  • Place a warning page before the content in question.
  • Notify authors and administrators by email/message on their Blogger dashboard.
  • Post a message that the content has been removed.
  • Provide a link to a copy of the removal notice.
When reading about Google/Blogger's reasons for removal, the ones that struck me as crucial were the copyright infringement and sharing illegal content reasons. I plan to be extra careful in future blog posting.

It's been argued that bloggers don’t have sufficient rights. There's no clearly defined recourse for those who believe their blog has been unfairly removed. In most cases, a blogging platform doesn't tell how to protest a blog removal. Hopefully, Diane will be able to get her information recovered.

That's WHY it's a good very important practice to backup your blog weekly or monthly — whatever works for you. It's like insurance which you hope never to use. I did a backup after reading Diane's story. Depending on your blog platform, online websites can provide step-by-step instructions on how to do a backup. (You can also refer to instructions provided in the comments below by fellow blogger, AC of The AC is On. Thanks, John)


Goldendaze-Ginnie said...

Thanks for the info. We live in scarey times.

Anvilcloud said...

Good reminder to do something I have been putting off.

To backup:

1. Click down arrow to top left when you are in your home page that lists your posts and Comments etc.

2. Choose Settings.

3. Choose Other.

Sandra said...

I see her in my feedly list right now, she got her blog back. it had been a year since I backed up my blogs, when this happened to her, I did back up all 3

DeniseinVA said...

Important information! Thank you! I saw this about Lavender Dreams through Eileen’s blog originally, and immediately backed everything up. It is very sad this happened to her, and to others. We put our hearts and souls into our blogs.

Valerie said...

I knew things went on in Blogland but had no idea that a blog could be closed down without the owner's knowledge or permission. I am grateful to you and Denise for spreading the news.

robin andrea said...

Wow. I had no idea a blog could be suddenly removed like this. I'm going to try to figure out how to backup The New Dharma Bums blog. We've had that up for 14 years. It's our online journal. I look back so often for things I couldn't remember. Yikes. Thank you for this.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

Thanks so much for posting about this my friend. It has helped so many people to know what can happen. My blog came back last night and the first thing we did was back it up. We didn't get an email or notification to tell us it was back...nothing! I just refreshed my blog page, as I have done many times just to check....and there it was! They really should tell us what caused it to be removed. They need to let us fix it BEFORE they remove it. I have no idea what was on there that caused it.
Thanks for your support and friendship! Come and see me at the old blog lavender dreams too soon! Hugs!!!

Emma Springfield said...

I'll probably get into trouble for this but I think censorship has gone a little too far.

Michelle said...

Thanks for posting this. I will be following her new blog. Also will be backing up my blog. Scary to think that years of work could be gone in an instant.

Nil @ The Little House by the Lake said...

Thank you Beatrice. This is very helpful. I don't know anyone who experienced this, but after reading your post I decided to back up my blog. Just in case.

I'm glad to hear that Diane's blog has been restored.

DUTA said...

Highly appreciate your informative post!

William Kendall said...

Fortunately it has been resolved.

mamasmercantile said...

Glad to read that all has been resolved, but worrying for us all.

baili said...

Dear Dorothy Cannot Thank you enough for sharing these information

i was totally unaware of such terrible stuff

i think i am never ever gone a use google images in my any future post

it is upsetting though but this is good lesson for them who misuse the blog land

thank you again my friend!