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Is Google donning the black hat?


amanuensis
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I get some spam which references the google blog site as the "URL" (xxx.blogspot.com)

Google, refuses to accept SC reports, and it seems that google also makes it difficult

if not impossible to actually report this illegal activity, making me think they simply do not care.

Anyone else notice this problem?

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With this post, moving to the Lounge area .... I can't see any direct connection to an issue/problem with the SpamCop.net e-mail account system/function.

As far as Google issues, there's already an existing monster Topic/Discussion that should provide some sort of an answer to your question.

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I get some spam which references the google blog site as the "URL" (xxx.blogspot.com)

Google, refuses to accept SC reports, and it seems that google also makes it difficult

if not impossible to actually report this illegal activity, making me think they simply do not care.

Anyone else notice this problem?

I suspect that Google simply does not want to put itself in the position of a censor insofar as blogs are concerned. This seems to be part of the Google culture. I have a certain amount of sympathy for that position. Also, it isn't clear that putting up a website to sell fake penis pills is by itself necessarily "illegal" (tho' it might be under the right set of circumstances).

When I get these spams, my usual response is to go to the blog site and hit the button at the top labeled "flag blog" or some such. This is supposed to notify Google that there are objections to the blog. According to Google, if they get enough flags on a blog, they may take action against it. Maybe true, or maybe not, I don't know.

It’s safe to say that there are many ways for spammers to set up websites, and blogger is just one of them. I try to do what I can about these websites, but I keep in mind that reporting the mail source is the primary goal. If the spammers couldn’t send any mail, then all the blog sites in the world would do them very little good.

-- rick

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I suspect that Google simply does not want to put itself in the position of a censor insofar as blogs are concerned. This seems to be part of the Google culture. I have a certain amount of sympathy for that position. Also, it isn't clear that putting up a website to sell fake penis pills is by itself necessarily "illegal" (tho' it might be under the right set of circumstances).

I have a lot of sympathy with that position. Once a blog can be censored for content, then all blogs are at the mercy of censors.

Google could close a blog if it was clearly shown that it was being spamvertised. However, it is a lot more work to close a website than it is to block spam (as well as the fact that spammers can create websites faster than they can be closed).

Blocking email is my choice and your choice is to use a provider that doesn't get blocked if you want to email me. Much simpler all around. If only the average end user could understand that and would block the biggies like Comcast who allow so much spam to spew. Then anyone wanting to get a bargain on fake penis pills could find a blog and the rest of us wouldn't be bothered.

Miss Betsy

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I suspect that Google simply does not want to put itself in the position of a censor insofar as blogs are concerned. This seems to be part of the Google culture. I have a certain amount of sympathy for that position. Also, it isn't clear that putting up a website to sell fake penis pills is by itself necessarily "illegal" (tho' it might be under the right set of circumstances).

When I get these spams, my usual response is to go to the blog site and hit the button at the top labeled "flag blog" or some such. This is supposed to notify Google that there are objections to the blog. According to Google, if they get enough flags on a blog, they may take action against it. Maybe true, or maybe not, I don't know.

It’s safe to say that there are many ways for spammers to set up websites, and blogger is just one of them. I try to do what I can about these websites, but I keep in mind that reporting the mail source is the primary goal. If the spammers couldn’t send any mail, then all the blog sites in the world would do them very little good.

-- rick

so you are saying it's OK for google to refuse SC reports that prove their system is being used indirectly for spam? What about taxes? Do these blog sites pay taxes on the "Products" they shill? I think it would be better to report these google bloger/spammers to the SEC and IRS than try to stop google directly.

And you are also saying that using a google blog to sell products via spam does not violate google's TOC?

I have not bothered to look into this matter, but I do not consider this to be censorship anymore than blocking spam is censorship. If you broaden the line enough, the line goes away.

Would google allow child porn on their blogs? Probably not, but isn't that also censorship?

In addition, google does a lot of censorship in China, so it would not be the first time the issue arose.

Bottom line is that for google it's the bottom line and nothing else that counts, IMO

Edited by amanuensis
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so you are saying it's OK for google to refuse SC reports that prove their system is being used indirectly for spam?

In a word, yes. No one is obliged to accept or respond to SpamCop reports. "Being used indirectly for spam" is not a crime; if it were, then a very large portion of the world population would be culpable for allowing their computers to be used in botnets.

What about taxes? Do these blog sites pay taxes on the "Products" they shill? I think it would be better to report these google bloger/spammers to the SEC and IRS than try to stop google directly.

If you can find the spammers, then, yes, you could check their tax returns and nail them for false filing or evasion (as was done to Al Capone and others way back when). Finding these guys could be a problem, however, and it isn't clear to me that there would be a tax issue if they are not operating inside the U.S. In any case, whether or not the user of a free Google service pays his taxes is not Google's concern.

And you are also saying that using a google blog to sell products via spam does not violate google's TOC?

I have not bothered to look into this matter, but I do not consider this to be censorship anymore than blocking spam is censorship.

I have looked into the matter, and it does not (http://www.blogger.com/terms.g). You are not allowed to send unsolicited bulk commercial e-mails through Blogger's facilities (which would clearly be spam), but that isn't what we're talking about here.

"Censorship" was probably the wrong word for me to have used, since it implies a governmental limitation on speech. Rather, I think that Google does not want to be put into the position of being a "blog nanny" forced to act on even the most trivial complaints about content. Instead, they apparently chose to rely upon this "blog flagging" business as a way to get feedback on problem blogs (http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answ...pic=&type=f). I've read their explanation for this, and I find that it has merit. It is also easier to flag a blog than to LART it, by the way.

Would google allow child porn on their blogs? Probably not, but isn't that also censorship?

Child porn would appear to be prohibited on Google blogs per #4 of the URL above. However, distributing child pornography is a federal crime, so refusing to do so isn't censorship so much as it is prudence.

In addition, google does a lot of censorship in China, so it would not be the first time the issue arose.

Bottom line is that for google it's the bottom line and nothing else that counts, IMO

Since Blogger is a free service, I don't see where Google's bottom line is enhanced by not quickly moving to kick off the occasional penis pill spammer or hoodia pedlar.

-- rick

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The issue with Blogger.com and Blogspot.com is that the very TOS and links to report objectionable content DON'T WORK!

17. VIOLATIONS Please report any violations of the TOS via the Blogger Support home page

But go click on that link and try to find the link where you can report spam or abuse... because I've clicked on all the links and there are NONE that will do so.

One saving grace is that these splogs (spammer blogs.. dunno if I'm the first to say it, but I like it) all access images and links to externally hosted sites, so you can manually report them.

I get so much comment spam on my blog & websites that are linked to Google blog sites and it pisses me off that they don't care to shut down the users that are spamming; not even just volume spamming, but blatant CAN-spam violating spamming.

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Since Blogger is a free service, I don't see where Google's bottom line is enhanced by not quickly moving to kick off the occasional penis pill spammer or hoodia pedlar.

Yes, it's a free service, but somehow google does make a lot of money, right? I haven't looked, but

could there be click ads etc., in/on their blog areas?

And for google to spend their precious time to investigate an SC or other report does cost them

money. The service might be free (for now) but google doesn't want to invest the time/money to

shut down abusers of their service. Somewhere, down the line, google gets money for their blog service.

They are not a charitible institution - at least last time I checked.

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Yes, it's a free service, but somehow google does make a lot of money, right? I haven't looked, but

could there be click ads etc., in/on their blog areas?

Google (Blog*Spot, really) will put ads on your Blogger site if you use the free Blog*Spot service to host your files. If you use your own server to store the files and just use Blogger.com as the "front end," then you will have no ads on your page that you do not put there yourself. I've never seen any outside ads or clickthrus in these "splogs" and I look at almost all of them, so I figure that the sploggers must be using their own hosting, with blogger.com serving as a feint.

And for google to spend their precious time to investigate an SC or other report does cost them

money. The service might be free (for now) but google doesn't want to invest the time/money to

shut down abusers of their service. Somewhere, down the line, google gets money for their blog service.

They are not a charitible institution - at least last time I checked.

Certainly Google is not a charitable institution, they are a public corporation with a fiduciary duty to their shareholders to maintain or increase the value of those investments. You are right that they may decide to run a "lean" abuse department to help cut costs. This may be what they are doing, but you can't say that they don't have a lot of company, here in the U.S., but particularly overseas.

I sympathize with your frustration over Google's apparent lassiez-faire attitude regarding these spam blogs. We might wish that everyone else felt the same way that we do about spam and spammers, but they don't.

-- rick

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I sympathize with your frustration over Google's apparent lassiez-faire attitude regarding these spam blogs. We might wish that everyone else felt the same way that we do about spam and spammers, but they don't.

Of course the real problem is that *everyone* pays for spam in the long and even short run, and Google is abetting the spammers by ignoring them. The are being proactive *for* spammers by doing nothing. It's the old case of "eating one's own dog food." If the top people at google are immune to spam then they simply don't care about it, thereby becoming part of the problem.

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The issue with Blogger.com and Blogspot.com is that the very TOS and links to report objectionable content DON'T WORK!

I went through the same circular link race when I first tried to identify abuse contacts for Google. It is indeed very cheesy, and ill-befits what otherwise seems to be a pretty professional outfit. If they don't want complaints via mail (or web form), they could at least refer you to the discussion of blog flagging without requiring you do do a lot of URL archaeology.

I get so much comment spam on my blog & websites that are linked to Google blog sites and it pisses me off that they don't care to shut down the users that are spamming; not even just volume spamming, but blatant CAN-spam violating spamming.

Can't speak to blog spamming, I don't know so much about it (my website is pretty much blog-spam-proof). However, Google does seem to say the right things about use of their facilities for SMTP spam.

As far as I know, CAN spam really deals with distribution via SMTP and not via blog spamming. Maybe we need another super-duper federal law, which will surely deal with this problem as effectively as CAN spam has dealt with SMTP spamming (heh).

-- rick

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