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TV Tropes Self-Censoring Under Google Pressure 393

mvdwege writes "The popular wiki TV Tropes, a site dedicated to the discussion of various tropes, clichés and other common devices in fiction has suddenly decided to put various of its pages behind a 'possibly family-unsafe' content warning, apparently due to pressure by Google withdrawing its ads. What puzzles me most is the content that is put behind this warning. TV Tropes features no explicit sexual content, and no explicit violence. It does of course discuss these things, as is its remit, but without actual explicit depictions. In fact, something as relatively innocuous as children being raised by two females, whatever the reason are put behind the content warning, even if the page itself doesn't take a stand on the issue, merely satisfying itself by describing the occurence of this in fiction."
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TV Tropes Self-Censoring Under Google Pressure

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  • What? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:10PM (#34158058)

    You can show it on tv... But not on the net?

    Which is chock full of the most depraved things ever... And indexed by google... And searching for any of it will show you googles own ads.

    Ow... the hypocrasy hurts!

  • On my forum... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:15PM (#34158086)

    Google pulled their ads because some guy said "We should nuke China".
    ive seen sites with google ad's that got pulled because they linked to torrent files and other stuff. its stupid really.

  • Re:Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:35PM (#34158184)
    This is precisely why the DoJ is supposed to screen mergers and say no when it would result in insufficient competition. Had the DoJ said no to Google buying Doubleclick, it's much less likely that this would've happened as Google wouldn't be controlling most of the entire market.
  • by Ron Bennett ( 14590 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:39PM (#34158218) Homepage

    Since they have years worth of AdSense data, surely they know who their primary advertisers are.

    They should approach those advertisers and deal direct, which would allow the site to operate more freely. As a bonus, cutting out the middleman (Google), would likely result in more revenue than before.

    Selling ads is presumably not their forte, so the site would likely need to find someone versed in on-line sales and price negotiations - could be well worth the effort in the long-run verses passively relying on Google.


  • by Anon E. Muss ( 808473 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:42PM (#34158244)

    Google seems to have recently started enforcing AsSense TOS in ways that they were never enforced them before. It's their business, and they have the right to set whatever TOS they want. I also have the right to think they're a bunch of assholes.

    See also: the-great-google-adsense-purge-of-2010 []

  • Family safe.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @09:44PM (#34158268) Homepage Journal
    Do the ostensibly "pro-family" conservatives who seem to idolize the time before the industrial revolution realize that for most of human history children were exposed to their parents having sex with eachother(or other people for that matter) from a very young age. What do they think happened in those 1 room houses? The parents would kick all the kids out in the middle of winter so they could have time to bang out a quickie? I don't know where these people are getting information on children and sexuality, but it aint from the right place(hell, some of these people are Catholic so they seem to think it's ok for priests to diddle little kids, just as long as they don't talk about what they are doing.)
  • Re:Song of Songs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Doctorer ( 1017662 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @10:42PM (#34158530)

    or is one expected to have some learning and experience with the context of the text? Let's assume learning and experience are requisite to understanding the Bible. That still doesn't answer the question of What learning you think is required. I just have a measly Liberal Arts bachelors. Does that disqualify me? How about Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church? Since he has specific learning and experience with the Bible, should I defer to his views?

    Let me go back to my original post, first of all, and enforce a distinction that I originally made - a particular level of understanding is necessary to understand the Song of Songs. Your question conflated the necessity of learning to understand the Song of Songs with the whole Bible, which is not what I claimed. If we are to talk about the whole Bible, then I would immediately say that different levels of learning are necessary for different books - and the Song of Songs would be at the high end of that range.

    Your (and my) Bachelor of Liberal Arts would put you in a better position to critically interpret certain phrases and idiomatic expressions than, say, a Bachelor of Science or high school student. It would not do us much (or even any) better on matters of theological interpretation, since it involves no study of theology.

    This leads into the question of the quality of learning - Mr Phelps may claim to be learned in matters theological, but what is the quality of his learning? Are his beliefs intrinsically and extrinsically consistent? Are his theses defensible?

    Where they are, you should, and where they are not, you should not defer - but always do so thoughtfully.

  • Re:Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @10:56PM (#34158602)

    And yet people will continue to defend this company. Google has been guilty of way more stupid bullshit in the last few years than Microsoft, which has been a harmless, slow-moving relic since the antitrust trial a decade ago. I'd love to see how people would react if Steve Ballmer said that only criminals care about privacy.

  • Re:Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pugugly ( 152978 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:25AM (#34158990)

    Umm. A 'market', of any type, depends on a high degree of transparency and the ability to exchange one provider of a good or service for another; It may not be *fair* that a sufficient level of success creates the very domination of a market that distorts these, but I am only aware of Rand acolytes willing to staunchly deny this as a matter of course - even most libertarians I know will grant that.

    When a single entity dominates the market, that transparency and capacity to contract as equals disappears - of *course* success is a valid reason to regulate. In this case, yes, Google's domination of the market allows them to deliver ad rates well above that of any competitor and still gain a profit, and that in turn means that Google's definition of family friendly can have a chilling effect regardless of whether that definition is reflective of society.

    Is such regulation needed here? I don't know - but although TV Tropes is hardly a paragon of virtue, looking at it comparatively to the Internet at large, even dismissing the explicitly erotic, they are hardly anyone's definition of obscene, and yet a complaint to Google could result in a unilateral suspension of services on which they had come to depend, without warning or an attempt to correct the issue from both sides.

    And let us be clear here - this was an exchange of goods and services - Google provided the ads, TV Tropes provided the space - and yet the suspension *was* initiated unilaterally and without warning or even complaint to the offending partner. This does not describe a 'typical' relationship of equals under contact law.


  • Re:Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:44AM (#34159070) Homepage
    I think breaking up the financial institutions would be a higher priority than breaking up Google, but that's just my opinion. Google is in no way too big to fail, technology companies always seem to have a more than ample supply of other companies willing to take the market share. People are just paranoid because they fear that Google "knows" too much, which may be justified but may also be just plain old paranoia.
  • Re:Song of Songs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mdmkolbe ( 944892 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:53AM (#34159100)

    Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. (Song of Songs 7:2, NIV)

    The point in question is the meaning of the word "sharerech" (transliterated, it seems ./ doesn't do Hebrew script). Most (all?) English translations translate this as "navel" as a derivative of the Hebrew word for umbilical cord. Good evidence for this translation is the use of the word in Ezekiel 16:4 where the meaning is clear from context.

    Some claim that the word drives from the Arabic word for secret and thus is a woman's private parts, but the context is describing the looks of a woman dancing (see versus 6:13 "Come back, come back, O Shulammite; come back, come back, that we may gaze on you! Why would you gaze on the Shulammite as on the dance of Mahanaim?"). Thus a navel would be a more natural reference as depending on the style of dance it would be visible.

    Some claim that since the sequence of body parts listed goes from feet to head (surrounding verses are of the form "Your [body part] is like [some object]") and the preceding and following body parts are the thighs and belly, then the navel is too high. However this ignores the later verse where eyes are mentioned before the nose which in turn is before the head. So despite what Wikipedia says, this argument is far from conclusive.

    IANA Hebrew scholar, but you are incorrect to say it was "intentionally mistranslated". "Navel" is a perfectly reasonable translation. Or perhaps it is a pun in the original language. Of course unlike those "English puritans", modern American sensationalists would prefer the more sexually explicit version.

  • Re:Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @12:56AM (#34159110) Homepage

    I absolutely hate people who look at a successful product, grow to depend on it, and think its success should be a valid reason to impose regulations, or that it should enter public ownership.

    When your civilization depends on a technology, are you saying you trust a private, for profit corporation more than you trust a democratically controlled government? To ask the question in another way, since Google can now afford to arm themselves with fighter jets and tanks and a few hundred thousand secret police to help them achieve better profits, should they be allowed to?

    There's a reason utilities are so heavily regulated. When a private company has the ability to screw their customers over, they will. That's their soul reason for existence: screwing customers to their benefit. Overcharging is having a "profit margin." Bullshit fees are "profit centers." This is all well and good when you're talking apples and cars and computers, but becomes very problematic when you're talking about media control and health care and defense.

    To give you an idea about some unintended consequences concerning market share, fast food companies are unsurprisingly the nations number one consumer of hamburger patties. Since our factory farms are so putrid, people started dying from e.coli from eating those hamburgers. So what was the industry solution? Inject those hamburgers with ammonia (yes, the kind in Windex) to kill the bacteria instead of cleaning up the factory farms. You may think that doesn't matter to you because you don't eat fast food, but now that method is so popular that pretty much any hamburger patty you buy will be tainted with ammonia. And thanks to deregulation, they don't have to list that as an ingredient, since it's a "processing agent."

    There are thousands of examples like this, and it's the rule, not the exception. Even the unintended consequences of monopolies are bad enough to understand why we need to return corporations to what they are: temporary organizational units that serve at the pleasure of the people, which should be dismantled when they stop performing their function. If there was simply an arbitrary limit of 15% on the market share of internet advertising, we would have a standardized way of allowing competition as we have for broadband resellers, and the market would be more competitive and better for it.

  • by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:09AM (#34159158) Homepage Journal

    aristotle-dude's post is in part a prime example of the confusion that comes form the civil and religious definitions of marriage unfortunately having gotten intertwined

  • Re:Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cheekyjohnson ( 1873388 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:20AM (#34159208)

    "Bullshit. Children learn by imitating."

    Right, and that must mean that since I played violent video games as a child (and my parents owned guns), I am a murderer.

    Speaking of which, if they aren't able to differentiate between fact and fiction, it sounds like a combination of bad parenting and a lack of mental prowess (in the case of video games and unrealistic looking media, since even five year olds know that that is fiction).

  • it is censorship (Score:4, Interesting)

    by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @01:43AM (#34159284)
    It is The worst kind of censorship. The one a quasi monopolist can do, and you CAN'T do anything to fight it, except taking a stand and losing revenue.

    Being born in the western europe, I never feared governement censorship. But private censorship done by all media, advertising, now that is the one which is difficult to fight, as the *conduit* which are supposed to be used to spread info, are stopping that info to go out. First amendement , lost schmamendement. I would wagger a bet that it is the same in the US: most censorship , is not done by the governement, but by private media. It is all nice that the govenrement can't stop your free speech, when all you can do is take a soapbox and go in the street yell your opinion, because NONE of the mass media will let you carry it. But with some form of speech, this is the situation where we are headed to.
  • Re:Google (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:51AM (#34159804)

    I think breaking up the financial institutions would be a higher priority than breaking up Google, but that's just my opinion.

    No, you don't get it. The priority is breaking the poor. Interest is the mechanism for transferring any wealth the poor might obtain to the rich. The way they do it is simple: Here, you can have a TV now. Just $19.95 a month. Forever. The banks and credit card companies pretty much own this mechanism. And as for Google... be quiet or they will pull their ads from your sites. Shhh!

  • Yup (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:05AM (#34159830) Journal

    This however is NOT a brave NEW world, is the same old world the US has had for a very long time. He that pays the piper, chooses the tune.

    Advertising is NOT free money. The advertiser advertises in your media because he thinks that has the appropriate audience. That sound harmless BUT the eternal search for more money means that this isn't static. The advertiser will seek to influence the media he is advertising in to increase the effect of his advertising.

    Simple examples are easy to find. The disapparence of the eye-catch, the short clip between the tv-show and the advertising block. Ads being overlaid over the actual tv show. Websites that block access until you seen the ad. Ads inline of the page, rather then to the side (out of view).

    There are plenty of examples where content is not just payed for with ads, but the actual advertiser creates the content. Read up on how Soaps were created. Do you think these completly paid by the advertisers productions did not listen to their money supplier as to what should and what should NOT be in them?

    But that is only mindless entertainment, who cares... well, anyone wanting fair and balanced reporting? Everyone who can subsidize, sorry, sponsor a production has a lot of money. Ergo the filthy rich have had a say in an awful lot of content that has been shaping the western mind. No filthy socialist tv-shows to corrupt the american mind. Where would they get the money?

    And if you think socialism is bad anyway, look at what happened to Oprah when she dared to question the beef lobby. She was by that time mighty enough to resist, how many other shows have in the past caved in to the advertiser before you ever heard of it? Was all the fuzz about Toyota because they don't advertise enough perhaps? Certainly other recalls that killed far more people AND with far more direct evidence did not get the same attention. Puzzling that, follow the ad money perhaps?

    Self censorship, either because one wants to appease an advertiser or for fear the government might regulate you is far more dangerous then actual government regulation. That at least is clear. But how much does not get reported in the US because the editor fears cut ads? How is this different from cutting content for fear of a visit of the secret police?

    Right now advertisers determine what is available for "free". Do those advertisers have the same concerns as you? No? Then that should concern you.

  • Re:Google (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday November 08, 2010 @10:21AM (#34160936) Journal

    Yup, you can get away from a lot of it by blocking Google's servers, using end-to-end encryption for all mail and IMs and filing take-down notices against Google for pictures of your house. Or you can go and live in the opt out village []. My point is that you need to do a lot more than 'just not use their services,' as the grandparent suggested.

    I don't regard Google as especially evil, but they have accumulated so much power that it's very easy for them to misuse it even without malicious intent.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.