This weekend, an activist Tweeted that his Wikileaks blog had been taken down by Blogger, the content platform run by Google. The rumor raced across the Twitterverse, even though it turned out that there wasn't much to the story. The activist (who uses the unbylined account @Justiceandtruth) later said that his account had only been down for an hour.
Still, it raised an interesting point. What would Google do if someone decided to repost the Wikileaks cables on the company's blog platform? Would that constitute a violation of its terms of service? It turns out that Google isn't willing to say one way or the other.
When the rumor first broke, I contacted Google, who eventually just sent me a generic comment about Blogger's rules:
"The internet has allowed anyone to publish their thoughts to the world through websites, blogs, tweets, and many other forms of expression. Google is one of many companies that helps people do this. Like others we have policies that aim to draw the line between free expression and prohibiting inappropriate or dangerous content, which we remove when it is reported to us. What we can't do, and which few people would want a private company to do, is check what people want to post online before they do so. The truth is that the price we pay for the huge advances the internet has enabled in free expression is that inevitably offensive or even illegal content may appear for a time, but we have clear rules and will continue to apply them to material brought to our attention."
I responded that I still wanted to know whether Google considered posting the Wikileaks cables a violation of Blogger's rules. They responded with a "No comment." So, I asked, "Without telling what what the policy may be, can you say whether or not Google has a policy regarding Wikileaks cable information?" And I received another "No comment."
It's only a matter of time before someone posts Wikileaks cables to Blogger. The question remains: What will Google do?
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.