Joe Lieberman has contacted Google to demand a content pull-down from Blogger, additional content guidelines, and a flagging system. Lieberman’s request may be redundant, though, as his requested features already exist.
Following the arrest of Jose Pimentel, U.S. Homeland Security is taking a closer look at Blogger. The reason? Pimentel was putting together pipe bombs destined for attacks on U.S. military bases. He got the instructions for making the pipe bomb from a Blogger-hosted site and posted his own hate-speech on that same platform.
In response, Lieberman – U.S. Senator for Connecticut, party-independent politician, and Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee – wrote a letter addressed to Google CEO Larry Page. In it Lieberman stated “Google’s webhosting site, Blogger is being used by violent Islamist extremists to broadcast terrorist content. Pimental’s site is just one of the many examples of homegrown terrorists using Google-hosted sites to propagate their violent ideology. [sic]”
It’s certainly true that Pimentel’s site was aimed at hate and violence. In one entry he stated, “[…] America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare. This includes facilities such as army bases, police stations, political facilities, embassies, CIA and FBI buildings, private and public airports, and all kinds of buildings where money is being made to help fund the war.”
The problem is that Lieberman is requesting features that already exist.
A Request for Present-and-Accounted-For Features
Lieberman commends Google’s efforts on the YouTube platform, where Google implemented a flag button and added “YouTube Community Guidelines to expressly ban terrorist content.” This is moderately true, as those guidelines state that videos can’t be “inciting others to commit violent acts” or showing gratuitous violence.
However, Google’s Blogger content guidelines are almost identical, with their guideline section labeled “Hate Speech” reading:
We want you to use Blogger to express your opinions, even very controversial ones. But, don’t cross the line by publishing hate speech. By this, we mean content that promotes hate or violence towards groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity.
Further, their section on “Violence” indicates:
Don’t threaten other people on your blog. For example, don’t post death threats against another person or group of people and don’t post content encouraging your readers to take violent action against another person or group of people.
Both of these sections would ban terrorist talk, including that of Jose Pimentel, just as or more thoroughly than the YouTube guidelines do. So maybe the issue is with flagging?
Guess not. As you can see, there’s a fairly clear option to report inappropriate content via the Blogger navigation bar. Clicking on this option leads to a page where users can report, among other things, content that involves “Hate or violence.”
So is Lieberman looking for something more? Or did he just miss what Google had already done on this front? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.