How Google Looks at Free Expression and Controversial Content


With the recent controversy of SOPA and PIPA still fresh in the minds of internet users, many people are worried about their internet experience being censored. Fortunately, Google is dedicated to preserving free speech for users of the internet, so that they may share their creativity and opinions with other people from around the world. While it is part of the mission of Google to uphold Article 19 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there are limits to what users can post and share on Google sites [1]. The complicated part of this is the question of where to draw the line.

[blockquote type="blockquote_quotes" align="left"]At Google, we have a bias in favor of free expression—not just because it’s a key tenet of free societies, but also because more information generally means more choice, more power, more economic opportunity and more freedom for people. [/blockquote]The kind of content that is banned on Google sites often depends on the laws of the country in which the site is hosted. Due to the fact that distributing child pornography is illegal in nearly every county in the world, Google has a universal ban on child pornography. Some of the content banned on Google is specific to a particular country. For instance, it is illegal in Germany to have a webpage that encourages or promotes Nazism. Upon being reported to Google, Nazi material is removed from, the Google domain for German users.

When it comes to what kind of content is allowed, the law is not the only thing that Google must consider. Some content, while legal all over the world, can be considered objectionable across an entire region and acceptable in another. In these cases, Google must take into account the different cultures of people all around the world and make the difficult decision of what kinds of content should be banned in certain regions.

Google works to encourage and promote free expression in all of its forms. Even though some content that is allowed by Google might be considered offensive or morally objectionable by some users, it is this kind of content that can lead to discussions between people of differing opinions. Google offers users a safe place to express their ideas and an audience to hear those ideas. The information found on Google can change the way the average internet user thinks about the world. It is this environment that makes the internet an enjoyable and educational place to be.


[1] Official Google Blog, March 10, 2012,

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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