Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship Social Networks Communications Google Your Rights Online

How a Gesture Could Get Your Google+ Profile Picture Yanked 262

Posted by timothy
from the but-it's-a-digital-messaging-platform dept.
SharkLaser writes "It turns out that Google has started to remove Google+ pictures that have persons giving the middle finger in it. 'Our policy page states, "Your Profile Picture cannot include mature or offensive content." Your profile photo was taken down as a violation of this policy.' Google+ is supposed to be a universal social network and 'identity service,' and to allow sharing like in real life — a public venue for free expressions. Since the middle finger is such culturally-specific issue, will Google+ also start to remove things like showing the palms of your hands to people (considered an insult in Greece), showing the soles of your shoes (insult in the Middle East), and patting someone's head (an insult in Buddhist countries)? A good number of Google+ users have started to change their profile picture to include the middle finger to show support to MG Siegler, who got his profile picture removed by Google."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How a Gesture Could Get Your Google+ Profile Picture Yanked

Comments Filter:
  • by nman64 (912054) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:52AM (#38526498) Homepage

    I am offended by all pictures containing mirrors. I demand that all social networks immediately terminate all profiles featuring photographs with mirrors in them! Or displaying their captive animals they call "pets" (how abusive!) Or holding alcohol - don't they have any respect for the alcoholics they're teasing?! Then there are those photos of people grappling others. They call it hugging and try to make it look all chummy, but I can see their unbridled violence! While they're at it, they can get rid of all of those profiles with pictures of people baring their teeth - there are so many of those! There are also many profiles with pictures that are straining to look at - out of focus, poorly lit or colored, or otherwise difficult to look at. It is so very offensive for people to post such pictures. I'm sure if they remove all of these offending profiles, the social networks would be better, happier places!

    • by Quanticfx (2443904) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:16PM (#38526822)

      While they're at it, they can get rid of all of those profiles with pictures of people baring their teeth - there are so many of those!

      I never smile if I can help it. Showing one's teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for its life. - Dwight Schrute

    • Re:Other Offenses (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:08PM (#38527666) Homepage Journal

      I'm offended at Google's immaturity. Minors aren't allowed to have a G+ account, right? Then what's the problem with someone flipping the bird?

      Jesus, Google, grow the fuck up.

    • by forkfail (228161)

      I have Anthropophobia. All pictures of people scare me. My lawyer says I should sue for a million billion trillion dollars.

    • I understand that in the Muslim world an open mouth (wide) is an offensive sexual gesture, or so I hear. Anyone know if this is true? If you don't want it turning into MySpace I wouldn't allow alcohol or branded items to appear either. With the gradual move towards specialized social media they should develop Google+ to be an effective hub for all of your other social media sites you like to visit. FaceBook is not especially tuned to this and its current setup is not good for organizing your on-line social

  • The advertisers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:55AM (#38526526)

    Don't like it. It damages their image.

    • Re:The advertisers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:05PM (#38526656)

      There might be some truth to it. Or Google is looking at MySpace, and how it was derided as the social network for angsty teens who are trying to shock themselves into relevance.

      I think it's simpler than that though. Google is trying so hard to make a relevant social network that it is managing it from the top down. Unfortunately, Social Networks don't work that way. The only reason people will use one is because they get some benefit from it. If the main thing they get from is constant aggravation about playing by some arbitrary rules, they are going to leave.

      I would love for there to be a social network around that competes with Facebook. The reality at this point though is that Google+, despite its nifty circles, ain't it. I should be their main evangelist, but I can't endorse a social network where some arbitrary and unknown rule is going to get the entire thing yanked. Dear Google, please let me fuck up my own social network. If I can't be trusted to not put up pictures of me that aren't offensive, will piss off my boss or have my girlfriend walk out on me, then please don't try to help me. You have no idea what is acceptable for 7Billion people, and shouldn't try.

      This is the kind of thing where Google ought to keep in mind the old mantra about asking for permission vs for forgiveness - keep the heavy-handed stuff for when you're successful. Kinda like Facebook.

      • angsty teens who are trying to shock themselves into relevance.

      • >I would love for there to be a social network around that competes with Facebook.

        You got one right under your nose, its your friends and family. If they don't talk to you outside of Facebook then you got a bigger problem than wishing for a Facebook competitor.

  • I assume all those reverse peace signs are offensive to the English and we'll see them all taken down too?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The V sign is only offensive if facing backwards. Palm toward viewer = peace sign. Back toward viewer = "Piss off" gesture.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      Actualy its a F%^k you to the french - Archers showing they still had two fingers to shoot longbows at the french.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:57AM (#38526554)

    "Your Profile Picture cannot include mature or offensive content."

    Then, they should not have removed it. I find this to be quite immature...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:59AM (#38526584)

    In my country, we believe showing our genitals to others is a sign of respect. Likewise, not showing our genitals (and anus and mammaries) is offensive. To have google+ picture that does not demonstrate pubis or arsehole etc would be deeply offensive.

    Gerald Oatse
    Christmas Island.

  • Choice? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jstg (2541828) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:01PM (#38526606)
    They caught enough flak with the making users use their real names. I can't see this going over much better. In order to compete with the Facebook's and Diaspora's you'd think they would need to take a more open minded approach to things.
    • Re:Choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RicardoGCE (1173519) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:21PM (#38526928)

      COMPETE with Diaspora? Give me a break. Diaspora is alpha software that requires users to run their own web server. It's a fucking great concept that will nonetheless never catch on with a large enough audience to ever matter to anyone but its users.

      The same could be said about desktop Linux, but Linux has found plenty of life in other markets. Until Diaspora finds that niche, there's no "competition" to speak of.

      • by ianare (1132971)

        Diaspora doesn't require you to run your own server (a node called a "pod"), what it does is allow you to run your own node and still interact with all other nodes. This is is why it's a distributed social network.

        I think most users are still on the main node, however there are a bunch of pods [podupti.me] that you can choose from.

    • Re:Choice? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:01PM (#38527578) Homepage

      In order to compete with the Facebook's and Diaspora's you'd think they would need to take a more open minded approach to things.

      Competing with Facebook means competing for the thirty-to-fifty crowd - and your "open minded" scheme is precisely the opposite of what attracts them. The absolute last thing Google wants is to repeat the mistakes of MySpace and LiveJournal and have a reputation as being a has-been that attracts mostly teen and young adult drama. Facebook is already getting something of that reputation with all the party pics, etc... etc...
       
      Why the thirty to fifty crowd? Because, as many Slashdotters fail to realize, Facebook introduced a seismic shift in the social network paradigm - it's not just for kids anymore. Social networking is now used by a variety of businesses and professionals, and where they go, people will follow. (Though Google seems to have missed that.) Where the older folks go, the slightly less older folks will follow to stay connected. You can't build a stable social networking system on fly-by-night, short attention span, follow the fashion, teens and twentysomethings. The name of the game now is slowly grasping each demographic in turn, and building a solid base from there.
       
      As far as competing with Diaspora - that's like claiming the NY Yankees are competing with the little league teams that plays down the road from me. It's laughable. As popular as Diaspora is with the disaffected Slashdot and/or techie crowd... It's meaningless in the larger scheme of things. Those enamored of Diaspora are those pissed at other networks, and they'll get pissed and move on again. They're unstable and marginal.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:02PM (#38526618)

    (yes I know there is a lot of overlap between these sites)

    7 innocent gestures that can get you killed overseas [cracked.com]

    5 common american gestures that might insult the locals [matadornetwork.com]

    Top 10 Hand Gestures Yu'd Better Get Right [languagetrainers.co.uk]

    List of Gestures [wikipedia.org]

    Will these be banned by the Google Censors as well? Or don't the Google Censors use Google to easily find lists of gestures that are culturally specific?

    • by Servaas (1050156)

      I think they used common sense for this one.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        I think they used common sense for this one.

        Care to define what common sense is in this case? Is it trying to grab the low hanging fruit (ie remove gestures that the censors at Google think are bad), or is realising that you can't appease everybody (and hence just forget about it)?

        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          certainly they used the same cultural bias the poster did - I'm waiting for all female profiles who have pictures of themselves with heads uncovered to be banned. Islam seems to be getting more popular every day, and vocal, so it's only a matter of time before the Google censors bow to such "politically correct" pressure.

      • "common sense" is seldom all that common, and never makes any sense.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:05PM (#38526670) Homepage

    Is Google doing this automatically, like face-blurring in StreetView? Or do they have thousands of low-paid employees somewhere doing this? It doesn't seem cost-effective.

    • Is Google doing this automatically, like face-blurring in StreetView? Or do they have thousands of low-paid employees somewhere doing this? It doesn't seem cost-effective.

      They probably only look at it once someone flags it as an inappropriate image.

      • hey probably only look at it once someone flags it as an inappropriate image.

        And there's your solution: flag all images as inapropriate (... or have a script do it for you...), and it becomes prohibitively expensive for them to check them all...

        • And there's your solution: flag all images as inapropriate (... or have a script do it for you...), and it becomes prohibitively expensive for them to check them all...

          Simply scheduling the order of review in a way which causes people with lots of flags to get their pictures scheduled for review less frequently neatly makes it so that this attack has minimal effect on the speed with which Google can review flags of pictures by people who aren't adopting this attempt to bog the system down, without consuming

  • by TheTruthIs (2499862) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:06PM (#38526680)
    Cause I had the feeling that google was giving me the finger.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:08PM (#38526702)

    ... think of the children [crunkcodes.com]!

  • I gave up on Google+ and this article makes me glad I did.

    Their real name policy turned me off by seeming draconian. Google's reason for it, to get more money selling my information.....made me feel victimized.

    I used a fake name, with a brand new Google account anyway, but I found it to be a pain in the ass to log out of my primary gmail account just so I could check Google+.

    On top of all of that 99% of my FB friends didn't want to get on.....or regularly use G+ on top of FB.

    So, I just post to FB less, do

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:09PM (#38526712)

    They want profile pics to be inoffensive. The middle finger gesture is offensive, and intentionally so. They're not going to remove things that might offend specific foreigners because those foreigners make up a vanishingly small segment of their user base. To complain about this seeming contradiction is to commit a line drawing fallacy.

    • They're not going to remove things that might offend specific foreigners because those foreigners make up a vanishingly small segment of their user base. To complain about this seeming contradiction is to commit a line drawing fallacy.

      Actually, non-US people make up majority of the worlds population. Should they remove anything that can offend someone somewhere? Because then we have nothing there.

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Way to commit the EXACT fallacy that I just said you would commit. Hey, let's try it in the other direction... "If they can't disallow offensive content, then should they allow child porn?" It's no less absurd then thinking that disallowing the middle finger means they have to disallow all content.

        And who cares what the global demographic is? What matters is the google+ demographic, which is predominantly American, with a bunch of Indians, Canadians, and British thrown in. The Muslim membership is minis

        • And who cares what the global demographic is?

          Like I just said, Google does. They want to compete with Facebook and be the largest social network on planet. Their demographic is the whole planet, not just U.S.

    • "Reasonable" is subjective.

      Again, so what if people get offended?

      The middle finger gesture is offensive

      Certainly not to me. I don't advocate removing things that are offensive to the majority for the sole reason that they are offensive to the majority.

  • by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:09PM (#38526718)

    This is a very good policy to keep up the atmosphere in G+ and not deteriote so a myspace or facebook.

    It's another universe, if you want to put up "immature" material, don't go on G+. It's the same as with the Android store or AppStore of IPhone: "you are offered a free platform. But the platform is defined for you. IF you want to express yourself outside of the set boundaries, take your expression onto yourself and your own platforms/tools"

    • Agreed. Start a social network of your own, pay for the servers, staff and bandwidth. Fill it with angry techs who rant about freedoms on a platform they pay nothing to join. They can call it.... slashdot
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Sure, but Google wants to be competitor to Facebook and have the largest social network on the planet. This means they have to accept stuff that is "immature" too. And that's not even counting the cultural issues.
  • by bmo (77928) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:17PM (#38526834)

    While I dislike Facebook, it has one thing going for it:

    They don't do anything if nobody reports you. They don't actively seek out non-compliant accounts unless you are under 13 and are dumb enough to put in your real age. They don't care.

    I can quietly be myself under my assumed name.

    Facebook rapes your account for demographics.
    G+ rapes your account for demographics.

    Pick your poison.

    I am on both, but G+ lays fallow because G+ doesn't have anything that motivates me to move everything over to G+. The last brouhaha with real names turned me off. Active censorship of accounts like this also turns me off.

    As a side note, I didn't look, but I expect ESR to be licking Google's boots on this subject too, as it applies to his "civility" and "hotgirl69 problem."

    --
    BMO

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:19PM (#38526876)
    It's Google's business - they can run it however they want. If you walk into a McDonalds and start swearing and cursing out loud, I think it's reasonable _and expected_ to be escorted off the premises. Google is simply doing the same thing, just on the internet. And here's the important part: If you don't like it, don't use it. Easy. Stop bitching and complaining - if you don't like their product, don't use it. Move on.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      I suppose the difference is that you'll be escorted off the premises if someone complains. If no-one has a problem with it, what's the problem?

      Google, unfortunately, takes the approach usually preferred by dictatorships and fanatic groups where they decide what is and isn't allowed and then enforces it, regardless of whether the common userbase (or populace) has a problem with it.

      The argument of "don't like it don't use it" starts to fall apart when the service becomes large enough. For example, you may not

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As you said it's business, and it's bad business for Google. That's the whole point of complaining. You write a complaint to a company to tell them that you care enough about an issue that you are willing to give them the chance to know why you are angry, instead of just walking out the door without an explanation. I don't agree in whining just to whine, but it's perfectly fine to critique actions from a company.

    • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @01:12PM (#38527734)

      The fact that they can do it doesn't mean they're exempt from criticism.

  • In Ukraine showing thumbs up with your hand is considered obscene due to some vague reference to erected penis. I have been reprimanded for showing it by older Ukrainians. I think that younger people no longer care about this though.

    Wikipedia also mentions that it is also offensive in Iran but I have no direct experience about it.

  • This is why Google+ is failing now. Like other Google Serveries they maintain ridicules rules on what can and cannot be done. This rule problem is in all Google serveries, not just in Google+. This is also why Google+ is now failing. Because once Google+ removes your profile picture. People often remove there Google+ profile, for good.

  • Offensive is not what you or somebody else find offensive. It's a statistically determined measure, determined by number of complaints (whether actual or predicted).

    Number of complaints is determined by number of g+ users who could be offended by gesture, number of people who used that gesture and how overlapping those sets are.

    The gesture will become an issue only if the complaints will be vocal. Nobody removes anything nowadays for theoretical considerations.

    So stop bringing your theoretical examples. Thi

  • I was recently stopped by a local police officer here in Texas because he thought he saw me shoot the finger at another driver ( I didn't but have from time to time ) . He informed me that it was against the law to make offensive gestures. I had never heard this so I did a little digging and discovered it was in fact...law. But these laws often use loosely defining terms like "offensive gesture". Well any gesture can be offensive depending on who interprets it. Perhaps that's why Ashley Esqueda has had a mi
    • Apparently if a majority of people find something offensive, it should be banned regardless of whether or not it inflicts any tangible harm upon them. I know these are Google's servers and they can do pretty much anything they want, but that doesn't exempt them from criticism.

    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      Ok so flipping some one the finger is illegal but Fred Phelps et al are not locked up - only in America
  • A better solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cro Magnon (467622) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:45PM (#38527306) Homepage Journal

    Photoshop any hand pictures to remove the offensive finger. Who care if they have 4 fingers on each hand? Or, technically, 3 fingers and a thumb.

  • So, are Google staff going through and flagging these manually, or do they have some kind of algorithm to detect whether a photo has a raised middle finger in it? I wouldn't be surprised if it was the latter, considering this is Google we're talking about. It opens up some interesting new Image Search possibilities...
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      Probably some low level Googler did this because he has a beef with Mr Siegler - this is the same as News International Monstering people that disagree with them.
  • because some people could be offended by others wearing them... don't laugh... this PC crap is infesting everywhere these days... Google, you idiots, you've opened yourself up to every fringe nut group with an axe to grind to complain about items in profile pictures that they find offensive...
  • Another sign that Google is losing control -> loosing the morality police on average users.

  • Unlike most of the posts here, I support the rule, if not the reasoning which, I think we all know, is bullshit.

    The real reason is along the lines of:

    "If we let all of you idiots use your profile pictures to show what an unoriginal, angsty little twaffle you are, then the people who might actually want to join and add to the community are going to be run off. Not because they're afraid of naughty hand gestures that they doubtless throw around like rice at a wedding on every commute home from work, but becau

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @02:42PM (#38528942) Homepage

    hey fuck you too, google+! http://lkcl.net/SANY0051.JPG [lkcl.net]

  • ... they haven't blacklisted the gesture involving dropping your trousers, bending over and showing the camera a big gaper.

    If so, I'm really going to miss the Goatse Guy.

  • by Xeranar (2029624) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @03:33PM (#38529596)

    I mean clearly I should be free to display idiotic hand gestures to anybody in my circle and those who search me! GRR! Ok, really, it's google service and their decision to not let you have the middle finger as a profile picture is their business, something I passively support since we're all big boys and girls who need to use our words and not come across as popped collar pink shirt wearing frat losers. I know freedom of speech is a vague concept most of us understand but the middle finger isn't really protected and google is within their rights to do this.

  • by forgottenusername (1495209) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @05:47PM (#38531444)

    If you have an android device, or even an important email / google voice account, getting banned would be a nightmare. So now you're looking at multiple accounts, which loses the whole 'integrated' advantage.

    Google needs to take a serious look at their banning policies and how they have ripple effects. Being banned from their social media shouldn't affect any of your other accounts. Email abuses (like spamming) are a completely different transgression than not meeting google's (apparently puritan, also seemingly arbitrary) social media standards / rules.

White dwarf seeks red giant for binary relationship.

Working...