I am disgusted with the frequency and indecency of the content in the Google Apps Content Directory. My father purchased a domain name for the family. We use the name and accompanying Google Apps website to host our (private) family blog, calendar, wiki, docs, and more. It’s great. But there’s one problem: it’s unsafe for children. From the Start Page, there is an attractive link on the right: “Add Stuff.” One click away, and the child, or user, is viewing pornography.
The disclaimer for the iGoogle “add stuff” page reads:
Most of the content in this directory was developed by Google users. Google makes no representations about its performance, quality, or content. Google doesn’t charge for inclusion in this directory or accept payment for better placement.
Source: Add Gadgets to your Homepage, google.com/ig
For a Google Apps site, it reads:
Much of the content in this directory was developed by other companies or by Google’s users, not by Google. Google makes no promises or representations about its performance, quality, or content. Google doesn’t charge for inclusion in this directory or accept payment for better placement.
Source: Google Apps, “Homepage Content Directory”, URL unavailable
While mostly harmless on the surface, this is unacceptable for a family website. While Google claims to be amoral and “does no evil,” they must not and cannot continue to peddle such filth and make it easily accessible to children. As a domain administrator, I need the ability to control the items in the Content Directory. Or, at very least, apply the same “Strict Filtering” algorithm used in normal web searches to the Content Directory.
Basically, I am asking Google to remove pornography from the Start Page of my neices and nephews, all 20 of whom are less than 15 years of age, including pre-teens and young teenagers who are ripe to be lulled down a dark alley on the Internet through an attractive link. Two weeks ago, Facebook and MySpace were infected with a virus which injected malicious links into the profiles of users. (If you have an account with them, you might want to check your profile.)
It’s not that I don’t trust the children; I don’t trust myself. Just today I noticed two comments in my Akshmi spambox. I happily read and approved both of them, grateful that Akshmi has stopped over 1,000 pieces of comment spam on this website. One of the comments disagreed me; the other simply stated, “I agreed with you.” The link posted as the “website” for the visitor included a rape video and dozens of links to similarly evil webpages. I marked the comment as spam and then validated the links for all the other comments.
What should Google do? Should they continue to sell advertising space to those who publish, sell, and promote pornography? Should they continue their somewhat amoral stance? Obviously, they cannot embrace pornography, because most people recognize it as evil.
What should I do about it? Should I boycott the search giant’s products and services? I have used BackRub for years, and I am a loyal advocate, praising them to family and friends. But if they refuse to filter the pornography in the Content Directory, then we will have to remove our family website from their servers and find a better hosting solution. It will be hard, and we would have to give up a great deal, but I would far rather sacrifice a few Web2.0 features than see the children of my siblings suffer from clicking a seemingly-innocent link.