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Some prominent bloggers are up in arms against Google+’s decision to remove a profile photo because the user shows off his middle finger. That user, MG Siegler of TechCrunch (pictured), wrote about it in his personal website, which BoingBoing noted.

“But Google describes Plus as ’sharing in real life.’ It describes it as an ‘identity service,’” wrote Rob Beschizza of BoingBoing. “The middle finger, pointed at no-one in particular, is hardly a scandalous gesture; here it triggers a vaguely-defined policy that’s being applied to a service marketed heavily as a public venue of free expression.”

The controversy has sparked some supporters of Siegler (and a number of TechCrunch writers) to post up their photos on Google+ that show off their middle fingers.

The argument is that if someone is not directing at anyone as he flips off the finger, it is not offensive to anyone. There are cultures where the middle finger is not assigned as an obscene status. People who were outraged by the incident fear that even obscene gestures of other cultures–such as showing the palms of hands to other people in Greece or the soles of the feet in Thailand–may even be censored if Google+ keeps up with it.

On the other side of the fence, some Internet-savvy people call out the so-called hypocrisy of these bloggers. They claim that censorship is applied even iTunes and Apple App Store, arguably the darling of tech bloggers, as controversial apps such as Shake the Baby or “Gay Cure” get removed.

Also, even if such offensive gesture or remark is not directed to someone, it can still be considered offensive. The comment “that’s so gay,” for instance, is not directed to a particular gay person but the use of the word to describe dumb is offensive nonetheless.

This argument about Internet censorship will remain heated, just in time before SOPA gets passed (or rejected, hopefully) in the US Congress.

 
 

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