So I was doing a random search and to my surprise, when I followed a link from my search results, I recieved the following content warning:
My choices were to disagree and exit the page, or to agree, understanding that I would be observing content others have flagged as inappropriate.
I observed the FAQ link that was available on the page, and noticed the following special section:
Special Case for Hate Speech
When the community has voted and hate speech is identified on Blog*Spot, Google may exercise its right to place a Content Warning page in front of the blog and set it to "unlisted."
Note: users may click the "Unflag" button if they change their mind.
The community represents the blog audience and website visitor. Each blogger or blogspot site has a "flag" link at the top of the page. What this endorses is this notion, put forward by James Surowiecki, known as the Wisdom of the Crowds. This idea that the blogosphere is best served through a self-regulating mechanism, where the "wisdom of the crowds" or the website visitors ought to be the ones left to decide over the appropriateness of content.
This follows the whole net neutrality vs hate debate. One that was vigorously sparked by a Canadian lawyer by the name of Mark Goldberg, who had teamed up with a team of lawyers and the CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress to file an application with the CRTC.
The application requested that the CRTC issue an order enabling carrier ISPs to block the site of Bill White of Roanoke, Virginia, described as a neo-Nazi who had encouraged people to "take violent action" against another laywer by the name of Richard Warman and even posted his home address on the site.
Since the request was filed back sometime in August of 2006, Google has now placed a content warning on the site, forewarning visitors about the hateful content.
I'm not sure that the Wisdom of the Crowds approach is a practical one when speaking about every blog site.
In the case of Bill White, his blog is tied to the Google framework, so if enough people banded together to flag his site, it wouldn't take much for Google to issue a warning to its visitors. With a pending lawsuit in the Virginia courts, Google might even find it necessary to shut down Bill White's site altogether.
But what about all those bloggers who are not tied to Google's Blogger framework? What about those blog sites hosted anonymously, with no account information registerred on public record or hosted through some offshore provider?
There are numerous blog authors who have chosen these disentangled methods for the reason that they want to continue posting their offensive opinions, without barriers, and without "Big Brother" watching, or telling them what to say or not to say.
This net neutrality vs. hate debate has many sides.
Often it is difficult to see a resolution in sight, or a remedy that can help to insure that the blogosphere doesn't become this brutish, gangly, and hideous grown up who we will all someday look back at and loathe.
Information, news, allegations, innuendo - all traveling at warp speed.
People everywhere are linked, communicating and deliberating with hyper-connectivity.
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Below are some links to product or company mentions in mainstream media:
Protecting the firm’s name on the web | Law Times
Safeguard Your Brand Reputation Online | Inc. Technology
They’ve got their eyes on you—are your ears burning? | ComputerWorld Canada
Blog author threatens to go "on a killing spree" | CNW Group
Blog author threatens to go "on a killing spree" | PR Newswire
Tips on Safeguarding Your Online Reputation | WSJ Startup Journal