Warning to bloggers: Google’s new “Gestapo bot” shutting down Blogger sites
August 22, 2010
Imagine my surprise yesterday when I tried to access one of my blogs and found a short, terse notice that read:
Blog has been removed. Sorry, the blog at ruhnama.blogspot.com has been removed.
For years I have maintained several blogs on Blogger – three in fact – and all three were shut down last night by Blogger (Google) administration and my account was blocked.
Reason: Violation of Terms of Service.
What violation could I possibly have committed? Let’s see, all three blogs were regularly updated, contained no profanity or pornography, did not advocate violence or criminal activity – in short, they were appropriate for family viewing (assuming that family members want to read about somewhat obscure subjects). The blog referenced above pertained to a book written by Turkmenistan’s late president Saparmyrat Niyazov. However, obscurity notwithstanding, that blog still had 35 subscribers and had garnered almost 10,000 hits in two years. But I’m getting sidetracked.
First, let me say that Blogger (Google) has always allowed users to have multiple blogs – they encourage it, as a matter of fact, by presenting you with a link to “create another blog” after you sign in to access your existing one(s). So having more than one blog didn’t violate their Terms of Service.
Concerned about my subscribers I tried to login to Feedburner (also Google) – the site which administers the subscriptions for all three of my (now) “deleted” blogs. Not surprisingly my Feedburner account had been blocked as well.
I then checked my email account (fortunately, not Google) and found a brief “no reply” message from “The Blogger Team” which read, in part:
Your blog has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: SPAM. In accordance to these terms, we’ve removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible.
For more information, please review the following resources…
SPAM? How could I be a spammer? I don’t even allow advertising on my blogs.
I consulted the “resources” provided by my Blogger ‘team mates’ and also checked some forums wherein angry bloggers – whose blogs have been similarly deleted – were proclaiming their innocence against the spamming allegations and demanding (well, actually more like whining and begging) for their blogs’ reinstatement by the Google gods. Those who had followed the lengthy and complicated “appeal process” for reinstatement asserted that it served no other purpose than to waste their time. None of the blogs mentioned in the forums (at least none that I could find after checking a half dozen or so forums) had been reactivated nor had any of the claimants even reported having their sites reviewed. Ironically, attempting to file an appeal requires that you login to your Blogger (Google) account – which has been blocked. How funny is that?
What’s really happening… in the Google gods’ own words
Navigating the maze of webpages and forms that Blogger (Google) has set up to further frustrate already frustrated users is daunting. However, persistence pays off. Here’s what I found buried in the catacombs of Googledom:
In mid January 2008, Blogger started to do something about a major problem – blogs established in BlogSpot, in massive numbers, for illegal purposes – hacking, porn distribution, and spam distribution… Blogger is using an automated process to identify suspected spam blogs. Spammers create their blogs, intentionally, to look like genuine blogs. There will always be actual spam blogs not detected as being spam blogs (false negative detection), and there will always be legitimate blogs detected as being spam blogs (false positive detection). If your blog was falsely detected, you’re going to have to have Blogger remove the flag and / or un delete the blog. There simply is no other solution.
Easier said than done. What I did find of interest, though, is that this automated web-bot acts as Judge, Jury and Executioner. The bot scans your blog, determines (wrongly in this case) that it’s SPAM, sentences your blog to death, removes it and blocks your account – all with no human oversight.
A common factor in all my blogs
One thing all three of my blogs had in common is that they were NOT AFFILIATED with Google’s AdSense (advertising) program. In fact, my blogs ran no advertising whatsoever. With specific regard to Adsense, my lack of participation meant that my blogs were generating no income for the powers-that-be. These blogs were “freeloaders” at the Blogger (Google) trough. Clearly they had to go.
Fortunately I relocated this blog (Inteltrends) to WordPress a couple months before the “Gestapo bot” shut down all my Blogger sites.
I suggest Blogger users back up their material or move their blogs elsewhere – for peace of mind (at the very least).