About a month ago Dennis Cooper‘s “DC” blog, which the writer and artist had been working on for over 14 years, has been removed by Google over night. When Cooper tried to reach out to the company, he only received a formal answer, which stated that his site hosted on Google’s “Blogger” platform had been deleted due to a “violation of the terms of service agreement.” Whether the blog has actually been deleted or just disabled is not clear.
The incident is a reminder that Google’s blog hosting service is a dangerous place, especially for queer bloggers. “Blogger” has a long reputation for erasing queer sites – usually without any further notice to the people who run them or an explanation what kind of “violation” the users are guilty of. The practice has been going on for years and was one of the reason why Catch Fire moved to a new host in 2009. In 2015, the company had planned to fully ban pornography fully on Blogger, but had to withdraw the decision due to the pressure of longterm users of the platform.
A petition by writer Mark Doten now urges Google to restore Cooper’s blog and explain why it was erased. Doten describes the blog as “a central Internet gathering place for fans of underground, subversive, queer, and experimental art and writing. It was a place of community and mutual support for an array of readers, writers, and artists, queer and straight, young and old.” If the company denies the petition’s request, Doten asks the company to at least provide Cooper with a backup of his blog content. The petition has been signed by over 2.700 people so far and might at least raise a bit of attention towards Google’s weird and intransparent policies.
“Google continues to totally stonewall me”
On a new Facebook page named Dennis Cooper’s Blog run by the writer himself, Cooper thanked his supporters for the petition and expressed the hope that Google will actually react to it. But he also emphasizes that it might be the company’s tactics to stay silent: “Google continues to totally stonewall me, journalists seeking statements, people within Google who are trying to help, everyone. Someone speculated last night that Google is probably staying silent so as not to feed the story, thinking that, if there’s no progress, the story will die out, which is very logical and ugly of them.”
Let’s hope that after all those year’s of deleted (queer) blogs on Google Blogger, Cooper’s case will finally draw some attention on the problem and make it more visible. The practice of erasing content without any warning sign or further explanation towards the blog owner is nothing else than censorship, especially in case of artistic work as Cooper’s. Meanwhile, I can only encourage anyone who runs a blog or website with content that could be seen as “offensive” to choose a web hosting service with more liberal terms and conditions. I swear, it saves nerves.