back to article Is US prudishness ruining the internet?

Is US dominance of the internet – and particularly of the social networking space – leading to the export of US prudery across the globe? Or is the growing debate on international censorship a little more complicated? As Becky Dwyer, a US citizen and, as member of CAAN Scotland, a campaigner for less censorship in the UK put …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Paddy

    Swearing is OK though.

    They may be prudes in some ways, but not when it comes to the needless use of swear words. (Or has every American had to converse with a person that they had seen fornicating with their mother and, through bad schooling no doubt, decided not to use the word father)?

  2. Renato

    Cut'em connections!

    So isn't it time to cut US' connections to the rest of the world? We don't need them!

    Null route them like the chinese!

    Flames: this is what those optic fibre cables need!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Don't do it

      Look - not all Americans are prudes - mostly just ones in power.

      As much as I like American porn, don't cut off my worldwide porn! Jeez, everyone knows the Internet is for porn.

      That is all.

  3. Chatter

    Those without a stake are experts

    I very much like this article. The author is obviously very intelligent. I would be very happy with anyone that firmly agrees with this article to go ahead and buy one of the struggling companies that deal in the social networking arena and put your social values on it. In this way you can alleviate the pent up need for a less stringent social network where your ideas can flow freely. Thank you for your opinion.

  4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    And your point?

    US servers owned by US company and subject to US law has T&Cs that reflect US values.

    If you don't like it, don't use it. Set up your own social networking site. Host it in a country that is more broad-minded about the sorts of things that you are broad-minded about and more careful about the sorts of things where the US tends to go over the top.

    That's what the Chinese do.

  5. Martin Gregorie

    It can go a lot further

    Prudery can take some distinctly odd forms and, thanks to site blacklisting, can even hit domain names. The following tale illustrates this stupidity rather nicely.

    In model flying circles the South California Aero Team, or SCAT for short, is a well-known and respected model flying club. Its been around since some time in the '50s and has had a globally distributed newsletter for most of that time. So, naturally it registered the domain. All was well until a few years ago, when some domains began blocking mail from, presumably because some over-sensitive idiot thought it was about zoo poo.

    At this point they moved to the domain on the grounds that, after all they fly aeromodels, an ex-Soviet term for model aircraft. Guess, what: this got blocked too, presumably because some prurient idiot thought that any domain with 'model' in its name had to be about sex.

    The newsletter got re-titled too. Its now called SEN because it would appear that 'SCAT Electronic News' was too racy a title for some people.

    Now the club is using the domain, so far without problems.

    The nature of the website content has not changed throughout this saga. Evidently those who caused the newletter to be blocked were so sure their prejudices were right that they never bothered to look at the site: a quick glance shows that it is indeed entirely concerned with building, flying and competing with model aircraft.

    1. Juillen 1

      Nice to know..

      The old Scunthorpe/Clitheroe problem is alive and well... And that people are working to refine it and make it even more all consuming..

  6. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge

    without the US market, what would the UK film industry look like?

    "In film, it has long been argued that the sharing of a common language with the US has been Britain’s downfall. According to Jennie Kermode, editor of Eye For Film: "The domination of Britsh cinemas by films made in America is... threatening to create an ethical monoculture where the contesting of ideas - and therefore the capacity for growth - is lost." "


    Firstly, why always looking for the downside? The sharing of the common language with the US has been a massive boon for UK movie producers because it's meant that they can flog their work to one of the biggest markets in the world and have American brand names - I mean, actors - appear in its movies to improve their prospects for export to the US and worldwide. That means more foreign finance, more shooting and moviemaking in the UK, and a larger domestic industry. If it weren't for US- and globally-marketable films to pay the bills and skill the UK workforce, there'd be far fewer people in the UK who can make movies at all, and those who did would be dependent on state-subsidised crap like Sex Lives of the Potato Men for work.

    If the UK film industry looks grim now, think what it would be like if it were restricted to the domestic market and the "World Cinema" niche.

    Second, the claim that US films' popularity in the UK creates a monoculture assumes that the US film industry is itself a monoculture. But that's not true either...

  7. P. Lee


    The Internet is ruined because you can't see breasts on facebook? How old are you?

    I'm slightly more worried about the US' continued insistence that US laws apply world-wide than the distressing lack of online porn.

    Tha anglo-saxon world is certainly not becoming more prudish, or else the music/entertainment industry wouldn't be able to punt sex to ever-younger children as it does. What I suspect is happening is that elections are being decided on ever fewer constituencies and the small number of people who feel strongly about things can tip the balance. Governments are therefore playing to the "so it can never happen again" crowd, becoming more and more authoritarian.

    The desire to be seen to be "doing something" and the need for that "something" to be cheap and showy leads to lots of intrusion into personal lives. It isn't just porn, check out the badly phrased and intrusive "hate speach" laws and the utterly irrelevant methods for killing foxes law which provoked a constitutional crisis!

    Our leaders don't believe in anything except the requirement to play to the peanut gallery. Sadly, noone appears to be voting them out for it.

  8. JaitcH

    The U.S. is rife with prurient bible-thumpers and do-gooders

    As readers can see from newspapers or Google. the latest being the self-proclaimed Qu'ran burning preacher, a long list of narrow-minded hypocrites - so long that it would fill several Register web pages - who also gather unto themselves like-minded politicians who are usually looking for funding or following the latest public opinion poles to gather votes, are often the rabble-rowsers who drive public opinion.

    Then you get people like Jobs who use their positions to force their concepts of morals on to their followers.

    Unfortunately these like-minded people are good at organising public groups such as The Tea Party or the Anti-Immigrant movement and then they start a witch-hunt using search engines followed by a search of government grants.

    Yet the often under-aged, multi-wife, faiths of Utah and parts of Western Canada go about their polygamy even though it is contrary to the laws of both countries. Older readers will remember when the singer Jerry Lee Lewis came to the UK to do a tour, accompanied by his then, legal, 14-year old wife, who was also his first cousin. This was in 1957! He didn't last long as UK public opinion was violently against him.

    The problem lies in culture. The InterNet is culturally insensitive; one persons idea of normal is another's insult or offence. Look at Greece: naked breasts all over the beaches with few tops; Vietnamese women dress, to Westerners, provocatively, yet this is no indicator of their conservative views; many African women are topless but this is their custom. It doesn't mean they either promiscuous or flaunting their wares.

    InterNet content providers should put a warning screen between regular and more 'extreme' content, much as movie theatres or the TV advise that the following material is not suitable for certain audiences. But you'll find these do-gooders carry on clicking, and then complain about content that offends them.

    Personally pornography bores me but IMO it is a useful, harmless, victimless, outlet for those who have a predilection for that type of activity and might even prevent an attack on a child or female. Yet the politicians have criminalised such viewing which only drives the practices, which are obviously flourishing notwithstanding, underground.

    The U.S. should look after it's 'culture' first before trying to make the rest of the world toe their line.

    1. jake Silver badge


      And mine, submitted at Sunday 12th September 2010 12:35 GMT, was nixed?

    2. Nuke

      I don't count your opinion

      You wrote :-

      >> Personally pornography bores me but IMO it is a useful, harmless, victimless, outlet ....

      If it only bores you then I feel sorry for you.

      However, that fact completely disqualifies you from offering an informed opinion on the subject of its effects.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        I don't always agree with Jaitch but I don't see why he shouldn't have an opinion on pornography just because he doesn't find it very stimulating himself.

        I find most pornography amusing at best, bizarre at other times.

        The point he makes is interesting and hotly debated.

        Does looking at pornography lead people to commit sexual offences against others or does it does it provide a safe satiation to desires that would otherwise be bottled up and lead to said offences?

        1. I didn't do IT.

          Re: @skelband "Why?"

          "Does looking at pornography lead people to commit sexual offences against others or does it does it provide a safe satiation to desires that would otherwise be bottled up and lead to said offences?"

          Indeed - we need to allow these women to look at the pornography that allow themselves release as opposed to them offending against others on the streets or other public and private places.

          Yep - there is nothing that says an "offending" person is always a guy, and numerous cases and persons listed on one sexual register or another bear this out. I don't think skelband intentionally meant that, but I could already hear the "burn the guy that dun it" thoughts all the way over here...

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Not all "do-gooders" are right wing

      The supposed right not to be offended by anyone, anywhere at anytime is rife throughout the US, agreed, but is not unique to specific sections of the political spectrum. Hate speech legislation is a perfect example of left wing do-gooders being completely content to throw the First Amendment out the window when it's in their interest.

      Steve Jobs is no right-wing bible-thumping do-gooder, and I'd tend to say that looking from the sidelines Apple customers tend to have a decidedly Left-wing, New York Times lean to them. So do you really think Jobs and Apple would let themselves be bullied by Right-wingers that probably won't buy their products anyway... or could there be something else in play here?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Do you even know what Teapartiers stand for?

      By and large they stand for Fiscal Responsibility. Not once has any Tea Party rally or group stood up and taken a position on porn. Bible thumping is an image the Liberal Media has tried to tie to the movement.

  9. Tempest

    Get it straight - AMERICAN PRUDISHNESS NOT Anglo-Saxon

    It is the prudishness of AMERICANS criticising the Anglo-Saxon's!

    America is a racial melting pot and is dissimilar to most other 'cultures', if the U.S. even has a culture being such a young country.

    1. Mexflyboy
      Paris Hilton

      I think you're a little bit wrong...

      Sorry, but (in my opinion as a Mexican-American who grew up in/moved to the USA when I was 7, and who now lives in the UK), I believe that it's fair to say that the USA has a predominantly Anglo-Saxon cultural bias... ergo why we speak English as the first language in the USA, and why I am very familiar with Shakespeare, George Orwell, and the Magna Carta.... whereas my grasp of "my" own Mexican history is very shady (I know the French and the Spanish were involved, and that the Spanish tried genocide in Mexico)...

      Even though the USA is a melting pot (for example Cinco De Mayo is celebrated by both Mex and Anglo folks in parts of the USA), the basic framework is heavily Anglo-saxon...

      The fact is that the British managed to (for a while) dominate the USA over the French (New Orleans), the Spanish (California, Texas, Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado...), and the Dutch (New York was New Amsterdam, and Harlem is from Haarlem)... the British were the last powerful "owners" before the Founding Fathers broke away from the UK... if the Founding Fathers had broken away when the French or the Spanish or the Dutch were the major powers, it's possible we'd have a strong Hispanic or Latin or Dutch cultural flavor instead...

      (I think even Halloween was originally British, was then adopted and changed by us Americans, and has now been re-imported to the UK with the American trappings)...

      Having lived in the UK for over 10 years now, I can definitely see hints of the Anglo-American "Puritanism" in the UK... the UK for the most part is LESS prudish than the USA (the extreme Puritans moved from the UK to the USA), but the UK and the US seem to be much more prudish about human bodies (such as bare breasts in public) than for example the French and the Dutch... (I can't tell you how many times when in France I have seen mainstream adverts in Parisian streets that have some human nudity, whether female breasts or male bottoms, whereas the same adverts would be considered verboten in public in the UK and the USA...)

      And to say that America, as a young country, does not have a culture is stupid... as a British Mexican-American now living in the UK, I can see many examples of American culture recognized in the UK... not only the obvious ones like McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Levis, and Ipods, but also expressions ("You bet your bottom dollar" or "up your game") and traditions that 10 years ago weren't really used in the UK, but are now... (for example, graduation ceremonies/proms were not really done here in the UK, but in the last 10 years or so I have seen more people adopt these American-style customs....)

      EVERY country has a culture, and some snobs (like the French) may disdain certain younger cultures (i.e. American culture), but it does not render such cultures any less valid than ancient crusty ones like the UK ones...

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        @ Mexflyboy

        Your post was making great sense until you said the French were snobs. I think, if you look hard, you will find that most French (namely, everybody except Sarko) are trying to hold on to and preserve French culture so that it stands alone instead of turning into yet another diluted attempt at mimicking American culture. If that is being snobby, then more fool you.

        I've seen yellow school buses in the UK, I know junior/intermediate/senior and 5th form. My younger friends talk about Xth grade. WTF? When my GSCEs were over, we left. End of. No prom. How long until UK kids take SATs? And, after a while of importing Americanisms, what will become of the UK? They can't "do" American. The mindset is wrong. Look at how many Americans wave flags and are *proud* to be American. Can the English pull that off? The main flag-waving is during the World Cup. So where does that leave them? A half-hearted and untimately failed clone of America? Is that worth the loss of the English culture? I think I agree with the French here. Pick up a few good points of other cultures, but work to preserve your own. America is not British history (not since the war of independence) and it is certainly not French history. So all these diverse cultures and ways of life should be kept alive, because if everything everywhere was the same... my God, how boring that would be.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        really... please don't defend U.S.

        I'm U.S. citizen and I'd rather you didn't use those as examples of culture. It's embarassing, much like our beer, fundies and sometimes, Paris.

        If it wasn't for British pre-occupation with Napoleon, our founding would have occurred much later, but we'd still have managed to end up where were at now. I'd say it's more of a growing pain for being a young nation and not having the snot bombed out of us. We'll eventually realize you can't legislate certain things and fix it after causing consenting adults a lot of hassle. I think we turned out fine with an English flavor. I don't think I would have handled puberty as well in a Latino society and there weren't enough Dutch for that to happen. Seeing this country as it is now, but speaking French, would be hilarious. Of course Sarah Palin dressed as a Latino talk show host speaking French could work... but I'm digressing.

        And the spanish genocide... mis-using the term doesn't work. Their goal wasn't a permanent systematic removal of the native population.

        Besides, I think culture should be based on how people treat each in addition to the education, building architecture, art, plays, dances, and music you didn't mention.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just Anglo-saxon prudery?

    Funny, I didn't think Brazil was anglo-saxon yet they're very happy to censor all sorts of things to a far greater degree than the english speaking world in some cases. And lets not forget the near-total censorship of the web in places like Saudi Arabia - nor the punishments for breaching their censorship laws. This behaviour grew entirely separately from any influence the US or english-speaking countries might have had.

    My point is that this is not a uniquely anglospheric problem. It *is* a problem, and every action should be taken to roll back and prevent censorship, but criticising ourselves as if we're the only people that engage in such nonsense is, at best, ill considered and at worst demonstrates a strange sort of ethnic and cultural myopia that you wouldn't expect from people who claim to be open minded. Blaming the US for it just reeks of attempted escaping from responsibility.

  11. Tron


    Power does not reside in the individual. Not in the gifted, the liberated, nor the intelligent. You don't find it associated with the new or the cutting edge.

    Power lies with rich people, corporates, politicians, the media.

    The sort of people who control the constituent parts of the internet. The sort of people who default to low brow, mainstream and safe. Third raters. People nobody really likes and nobody really trusts.

    Thus, reality and forms of media differ. Reality is vital. There are no boundaries but those you impose yourself. Reality is fresh and interesting. It is alive.

    Media forms are lacking, controlled, patrolled, censored, pallid, limp and pale. Expect little of them and never live down to them.

    Embrace reality. It's where the action is.

  12. Lilolefrostback

    Why does the US matter?

    I see no good reason that the US should hold anyone back. If you feel that US prudery, or whatever, prevents US companies from offering services that the masses want, why don't you start a company elsewhere to offer those services? Europe and Asia both have excellent Internet infrastructure. Anyone can whine about things. If you don't like the way things are, and if you really believe that your view of how things should be is financially viable, stop whining, get off your duff, and prove it (and if your idea is good, I hope you make a huge pile of money).

    1. CD001

      I assume...

      I assume you're American?

      And weirdly - I kind of agree with you here. There's no reason why people in any other country in the world can't set up services - like Facebook - based on their own local jurisdiction and allow things like online betting, norks and swearing ... and to some extent they do (I'm thinking of a couple of UK tabloids here).

      However, they may have to ban Americans, particularly from gambling sites, so as not to get arrested should they ever enter the US (Peter Dicks). So, US law/opinion seems to apply on the www irrespective as to whether the site is based in the US or not.

      It doesn't work the other way around of course - Chinese law doesn't apply to Google and there are probably innumerable US (film/porn) sites that would be illegal under the UKs repressive "Extreme Porn Law" - to be honest you're probably pushing it with the "donkey scene" at the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

      1. Dcope

        erm im replying

        ""donkey scene" at the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

        Sorry but I couldn't leave it, its Clerks 2


        1. CD001


          I stand corrected - the Kevin Smith films tend to come out with the beer and pizza, fuzzed memory ;)

  13. GreyWolf

    Not just corporate idiocy, but individual too

    Lovely row recently, where a Microsoft customer service rep banned an Xbox Live user for the name of his home town, and refused to believe it was a real place, and refused even to look it up in an atlas or Google Maps. The name? Fort Gay, West Virginia.

    "He was warned that if he put the location back on his profile he'd be kicked off Xbox Live and forfeit his membership fee."

    The PR Microsuits have said "it was a mistake" and "we're going to make it right".. But no word on whether they are going to sack the homophobic asshole and tighten up hiring policies to exclude the wave of idiots that is engulfing the world.

    Would someone turn Darwinian selection up to 11, please?

    1. Rob - Denmark

      Rule of thumb

      When you see corporate idiocy resulting in bad press, and the person uttering the idiocy is a low level employee, and he's not being fired to calm down the press, most often it's because the company don't wan't an (en) employee telling the press: "I was just doing what I have been trained to do".

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "ASSUME makes an ASS out of yoU and ME"

      lol @ all the folks on here that think this is *ONLY* homophobic, religious types (i.e. Right Wingers) responsible for all of this.

      How do you know this was a homophobic reaction vs. a politically correct one? Maybe there's more information on this particular incident than you posted, but from what I read I would think it's just as likely to consider that the Microsoft employee thought the user was not gay and trolling vs. expressing their gay pride through their XBL location.

      At first glance this appears the most likely scenario is that where someone from Microsoft felt the user's location was likely to generate complaints - for whatever reason, be it pro or anti-gay - and the knee jerk reaction was to ban that location description to just avoid having to deal with it. I'm not an XBL user, but if my meager experience with online gaming is any indication, I could see the admins wanting to avoid having to deal with multiple inquiries about this particular user's location - i.e. laziness.

      So in summary, Homophobic Conspiracy vs. Politically Correct Conspiracy vs. Laziness - I see nothing to prove one case vs. the other.

  14. Arthur McGiven
    Thumb Down

    Puritans = Christian Taliban

    We got rid of the our puritans to America centuries ago and now they are coming back via cyberspace. Tis a truism that nobody is as pathologically interested in other people's sex lives than a puritan.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Horrible Histories

      Great little skit on BBC's Horrible Histories.

      The Royalist turns to the Puritan woman and says, "So all fun is a sin, eh? You don't like having fun do you? You really don't like others having fun either. One might even say you actually 'enjoy' not having fun and stopping others having it too?". Realising she's enjoying being a misery, has to struggle with those conflicted thoughts!


  15. StooMonster

    New wave of prudishness

    What is driving this new wave of prudishness within USA, UK, and Australia?

    Bound to involve one sort of sky pixie or another.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Why are the corporations being so corporationy?

    With the exception of paternalistic Apple, the problem here is not the corporations so much as their customers. This is really the result of the people in the US (quite numerous), of all political spectrums, that will go absolutely, stark raving, bat shit insane if anyone "offends" them in any way, shape or form.

    There are, quite literally, hundreds of thousands if not millions of private secret police roaming Facebook at this moment waiting to pounce, report, and raise holy indignant hell on anything the deem offensive. Same thing with Google ads. Apple is the only one who has really gone full-on preventative whereas most of these other companies have, in my reading, backed in (or were bullied in, depending on how you look at it) to their current positions.

    Corporations make good scapegoats, and in Apple's case I'd argue that it's appropriate, but in the end it's the squeaky wheel users that are bending the ears of the companies, which in turn pushes the prudishness.

  17. HooHah!
    Big Brother

    Loud wowsers

    How much of American companies' over-prudishness is because the companies are prudes, and how much because they cave in to the first loud wowser to come along and complain?

    Darwin was wrong. Man is still an ape.

  18. kissingthecarpet

    Censorship is always wrong

    There is NEVER a need for censorship. Existing laws protect children etc. from abuse, so there is no need for extra laws about images & words because the vulnerable are already protected by law, in theory. If they aren't, then new laws won't help either, will they?

    Also, it is self-evident that if there is corrupting material then those who view it for the purposes of censorship are themselves corrupted, poor things. The BBFC should probably be periodically imprisoned and given ECT for their own good, and for the good of society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is a need for some form of censorship

      What if someone made up a claim you abused children and you didn't do anything wrong? In such cases names are censored from the press to protect people who could be innocent. No censorship in this case would have your name over the tabloids and an angry mob at your door because someone told a lie about you.

      1. I didn't do IT.

        Re: need for some form or censorship

        "What if someone made up a claim you abused children and you didn't do anything wrong? In such cases names are censored from the press to protect people who could be innocent."

        Actually, I have yet to find a case (in the US, for over 18's) where the person being accused in given anonimity after the charge or during the proceedings... it would be the alleged "victim" that receives that benefit.

        That, dear sir, is merely the mechanism that has been installed over several decades with a new veneer - used to be called "having Indian blood" or "gone native", "being a sympathizer", "being a communist", and now you will find it under "suspected terrorist" and "pedophile".

        Why spend all that money you collect in taxes to "protect" people from phantoms you create when you can make them do it to themselves SO MUCH BETTER and watch them scurry around like bugs under a rock? Use the skimmed cash to buy popcorn and enjoy the show.

  19. Peet McKimmie

    This has been going on for a long time.

    About a decade ago I spent several months involved with a startup site called "" - it was based in the USA but world-wide in nature (I'm in Scotland) and was trying to provide a "user rated directory" of websites, filtering out ad sites and ranking content by factors such as "interestingness" and "usefulness".

    All was well, until a larger US corporation bought them over and started instituting rules about "sites that condone illegal activities" amongst others, never recognising that something that might be illegal in their State might be perfectly fine elsewhere, and that things they allowed, like carrying concealed firearms, might be illegal in other countries.

    They started introducing silly "tests" to see whether editors knew the ("their") legal system well enough, and removed whole sections from the site "pending examination", including the entire "Adult" branch. Basically, they screwed it up completely.

    I quit when they banned a really good Tomato Gardening site (ironic, as I hate tomatoes!) because a single post in their comments section said "Hey! I could use these tips for growing dope!" (or words to that effect...)

  20. WonkoTheSane

    What's with the Victorian attitude?

    The old battleaxe has been dead over a century!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ironicly Vicroria wasn't a prude...

      Have you seen her art collection. A veritable conucopia of nudes non of which were coverd up.

    2. Rob

      Correct me if I'm wrong...

      ... but wasn't she a big dope smoker as well?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Anglo-Saxon prudery?

    Let's have a look at some of the most censorious countries:

    The fascists that run and censor China; no Anglo-Saxons to be seen.

    The Middle East, not many Anglo-Saxons running things there either.

    Thailand is a heavy internet censor but I see no Anglo-Saxons involved.

    Censorship in Aus is being championed by a Catholic Celt (Senator Conroy) and an atheist Celt (Prime Minister Gillard).


    Central Asian Anglo-Saxons.

    Burma, I see no Anglo-Saxons.

    Maybe North Korea? Nada.

    The way I see it is that the most censorship happens where the country is run by religious fascists and unelected dictators.

  22. Andy Baird

    Apple is not the internet

    I agree with most of the writer's comments about Anglo-Saxon prudery and corporate "nannying" of web-based social networks, but I'm puzzled by her bringing up Apple's banning of iBoobs. That's an iPhone app, not a website. Say what you will about Apple's management of its App Store--and I personally think it's been too restrictive in many cases--the App Store is a private Apple sales venue, not the internet. Apple has neither the power nor the will to censor the internet, so this case doesn't really fit the article's stated theme, "IS US PRUDISHNESS RUINING THE INTERNET?"

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Utterly ludicrous article

    What is Ozimek complaining about? That social networks used by children contain less filth than they used to? And that's a bad thing how?

    We all know he/she measures civilisation by its licentiousness. Thank you Jane Fae, we don't need to be reminded everyday.

    When I stop receiving unsolicited emails about penis enlargement or animal sex, I'll know that the internet has become "prudish".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I wondered how long

      It would be before some bright spark brought the children argument into it.

      By all means protect the children but don't use that argument to prevent adults engaging in perfectly legal adult activities.

    2. Jane Fae


      What a wonderfully self-revelatory post. "Filth"? Not sure that was what i ws writing about at all. Rather, my focus was on the differeing values adopted by different cultures and questionng whether itis a good thing if one culture's hegemony, technologically, resulted in those values being pushed around the world.

      Probably not something many americans worry about at present...but imagine if the boot were on the other foot...and the US was being systematically "swamped" with Chinese cultural values.

      One prime area where this issue comes up is in respect of nakedness. There is no a priori reason for considering nakedness to be "filth": the focus of a lot of my commentary was not on pornographic action, but simple display of the human form.

      That was why i raised the issue of Germany, where two different cultures, reunited after years apart are struggling to come to terms with their differing attitudes to nudity.

      So what is the issue? Presumably ac, in this instance, finds nakedness in any context to be "filth". I am not going to persuade him (or her) of the wrongness of that point of view. It is merely worth noting that that is not a position held by everyone: indeed, in some quarters, that position might be considered downright disturbed.



      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Jane Fae, you missed the point completely

        Of all the "values being pushed around the world" by the internet, prudery isn't really one of them. Quite the opposite.

        Instead, you choose to defy reality. Perhaps taking this view dramatises your desire to be a warrior on the battlefront of sexual liberty. M'lud would call it a professional interest - like a police chief talking up the crime rate, it's good for business.



        1. I didn't do IT.

          Re: Both AC's - missed point and ludicrous article

          Defy reality?

          The reality that parents don't care what their children do, watch, or consume through media or "educational institutions" - just as long as little "Treysure" and "Dohmenik" don't annoy them or cost them too much (any) money?

          The reality that American "victim culture" has become more of a mass market product than any other tangible or intangible "good" (including social mores)?

          The reality that children are used as a panacea to keep us all non-thinking 8 years old for as long as possible?

          The reality that American hypocrisy towards the natural state (show me anyone born in a cardigan) is broadcast across every media outlet known to man while "teeny-boppers" are sexed up to increase retail sales in print, TV, and radio... talk about "reminding us everyday"!

          Or is it the simple reality that when someone points out that the personal belief of someone or a relatively small group in "power" might not be the best reflection of the majority in a world-wide "democratic" medium (the internet), they become a target for attempts at ridcule from people who crave to relinquish responsibility for "security" ?

          Why, all of the above, guv.

    3. chr0m4t1c

      Yes, won't someone think of the children.

      That'll be the children who aren't supposed to be on these social networks (some of them at any rate) because the T&Cs explicitly say they're not allowed on there.

      I don't mind protecting "the kids", but if you start down that path you end up with the Care Bears Movie being the most challenging thing you can see at the cinema and Sesame Street the most violent thing you can watch on TV "just in case".

      What he's complaining about is inappropriate censorship; if you bought a copy of a magazine from the Playbeing franchise then found all the pictures inside were of fully clothed people and all the letters and articles were about having a nice cup of tea, wouldn't you be a bit miffed?

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Goshdarn Amuricans

    and their burkhas and their acid_in_the_face. We wouldn't mind their butchery throughout the world - maiming women and kids and their radiation pollution with DU - if...


    The internet is going private ala cable TV. Then, those interested will have ample "porno" channels provided through their ISP (by subscription) which may melt their primitive brains.Those who are truly schizoid can also simultaneously subscribe the Glenn Beck channel and moan about "fambly valyaas" while watching their favorite bestiality show.

    The Scots (and the UK) will surely have favorite subscription channels such as "Bum Boy Goes to Parliament" and "Bum Boy Goes to Downing Street" so those worried about censorship may stand down now. There will also be a channel for "Magistrate Judge Sex Slave to Hottentots".

    Seriously, though...some 50 Indian farmers commit suicide each week because of this issue....and, FoxConn workers are queued at the windows because of this horrible practice of censorship.

    Ah, the beauty of the homogenous penguin. No censorship needed there...

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Strange country

    The US, or rather its citizens, makes for a strange country. On one hand, it's perfectly fine, indeed actively encouraged, to carry a gun and shoot people. On the other hand, exposing a bare nipple (remember the superbowl?) is a crime so heinous that only the most severe punishments are appropriate.

    I was watching the news here in the UK the other night and they were talking about Barack Obama and the very recent surge in (basically) anti-Obama feeling being stirred-up some self-styled group called the Tea Party, or some such thing. The thing I found interesting was the number of people that believed Obama was (a) not actually an American, and (b) was a muslim. Even though they have been presented with his birth certificate and Mr. Obama swears he's not a muslim, they still don't believe him. What is the point of recounting this? Well, I think it is a symptom of the American psyche. Are they just plain bloody stupid? Or mentally and socially backward? Plain and simple racist, maybe? A bit of all three? They claim there is no racist element to their protests. Personally, I find this very difficult to believe; if it looks like a duck... But then I'm sure some of them are are not racist (just pretend for now, right?); in that case, just how stupid and engrained in your own little bubble of backward social upbringing do you need to be to carry on the argument?

    I think it is this exact same backward/arrogant/stupid attitude that leads a whole nation to protest at a nipple being displayed on telly (even when it's covered up!). I mean, can you imagine? An actual nipple? The shame of it!! Burn the heretic!!

    But this attitude (which seems endemic in the American society) couldn't contrast more than it does when you look at the fact that the US is the biggest porn producer in the world. Maybe it really is just a screwed up country with bizarrely screwed-up values that really don't make any sense.

    When you consider the psychology of this nation, it is no wonder at all that its contradictory and often nonsensical value are exported via the internet. It is inevitable. Facebook can't really allow the rest of the world to post up pictures of nipples, but not allow good honest Americans to do the same, can it? It would have its (American) offices fire-bombed in something reminiscent of abortion clinic. Abortion; as it happens, another very screwed-up argument that gets WAY out of hand in the US - I mean, at least let the little buggers grow up so they can hold a gun and shoot back! Give 'em a fighting chance, you know.

    As a side-note, you point about the UK suffering because we speak (notionally) the same language. There is definitely something in this. Americanisms infiltrate our media all the time; it's getting to the point where Radio 1 sounds like its broadcasting from some Bronx ghetto or something. Or maybe I'm just getting old :-) Actually, no - it's not that. Yes, I AM getting old, but that's no excuse to bastardise our language with such nonsense. And have you ever tried selecting the "English" (rather than "American") language option in your computer operating system or software of choice? You're doing very well indeed if you can find it; it seems that us Brits should be perfectly happy with American "English". Apparently, we don't need our own language at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Strange indeed

      I heard Mr Obama suggesting that the Rev who was contemplating burning Q'urans would in some way be responsible for the ensuing actions of the extremists.

      He seemed to sugegst that despite his protest being non violent, the fault would be his for any actions subsequently taken by the bad guys. (and despite the fact that while he is contemplating said action, there are people on the streets in Afganistan chanting "death to christians")

      Now if you stop and think about it, that is ludicrous. It may be unwise and insensitve in the extreme to burn the Q'uran, it may even be provocative, but the violent response is the responsibility of the perpetrator.

      Think of woman with a drunk and jealous husband. She goads him, he hits her - who spends the night in the cells, the wife who was beaten? It was likewise unwise to provoke him, but the criminal act is his alone in escalating a non violent row into violence.

      It is a strange place indeed.

    2. breakfast

      You don't make tea with salt water, you idiots.

      The Tea Party are interesting because they claim to be a "grassroots" conservative group but they're actually financed by a few extreme right wing billionaires with a personal beef against Obama that has little to do with race and a lot to do with profits and environmental deregulation. A search for the New Yorker article on the Koch brothers will find some interesting stuff about this.

      The american enigma is summed up for me by the fact that everything I hear about the place politically is totally screwed up and americans collectively appear to have a bull-in-the-china-shop attitude to everything in the world and yet I have consistently been charmed by the friendliness, politeness and just general niceness of the Americans I have met in person. Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world there is this huge dissonance between individuals and the whole society. Maybe it's just that a more diverse society has a lower lowest common denominator, but it's pretty odd.

  26. Daedalus

    If you want a free press... helps to own the press. Actually there are plenty of outlets for anything-goes stuff, starting with blogs hosted in friendly countries. The kerfuffle about censorship by Facebook et al is the typical whining of those who want to impose their stuff on others and think somebody should be compelled to display it for them. It's a scenario that's been repeated over the decades about film, print, telly, and now social networks. The proper response, as always, is to tell these people to go forth and multiply. Facebook owns Facebook's output, period. Likewise Myspace, blogspot etc. Those who don't like it can pick up their marbles and go play elsewhere.

  27. gimbal

    "Complaint Culture" Indeed

    That's straight to the mark - "Complaint culture" in whatever doesn't fluff the pillows. I'm afraid it affects a lot more than the internet, these days.

    Here's a drink between libertarians. Cheers.

  28. skeptical i

    Let's not go to America, it is a very silly place.

    First, regarding "Americans seem a tad more squeamish when it comes to bare flesh", please take a look at our current obesity stats.

    Amurka is a bit schizophrenic (actually, manic- depressive is probably more accurate) about sex: on one hand, we have a media culture that shows us skin, butts, Bulgarian airbags (both natural and by Dow Chemical), and whatever else can sell (or at least draw attention to) Product X at every turn. On the other, we have our own Taliban beating the drum for hets- only sex, only after marriage, and there shalt be no sex ed in schools ("all you need to know is 'no'"). Note that neither faction particularly cares about educating youth about STD and pregnancy prevention, since both benefit from ignorance.

    Of course, these institutions probably own vast shares of each other's stock: the first industry gets people hot and bothered, and the second makes people feel guilty (and fill the collection plate), which gives the first the allure of "forbidden fruit", the cycle continues, and ... PROFIT!

    Also, with our economy swirling the bowl and more jobs going to China/ India, Inc., people are pulling back to more conservative mindsets, both financially (which is logical) and socially (which isn't, but since the politicians who are financially conservative also tend to be socially conservative it's hard to get one without the other), some companies might find it profitable to pander to the Talibanderthals for the time being. While this makes sense from a business standpoint ("know your customers, give them what they want"), it may not from a social/ human betterment one.

    Lastly, our Supreme Court has more or less decided that corporations qualify as "persons" for the purpose of making campaign donations ("money = speech" being the crux of it), so perhaps this might carry over into the "individual rights versus corporate responsibilities" question Ms. Dwyer raises.

  29. Adair Silver badge

    No whining please...

    ...if you come round to my place (invited or not), and I say, 'Take your disgusting habit outside if you simply must indulge in it', there's no point moaning, those are the house rules. You can take yourself, and your disgusting habit, off in high dudgeon, 0or you can meekly step outside for five minutes (or how ever long it takes), but when we are in someone else's space, whether it's called 'My Space' or whatever, we play by their rules.

    This is the internet after all. there's nothiing stopping anyone who doesn't like they someone has their place setup going off and setting up their own space with the kind of rules they like to have.

    On the other hand instead of/alongside rules there is always the possibility of 'responsibility', now there's a subversive idea...

  30. LDS Silver badge

    Let's think a little less about sex?

    IMHO people are thinking too much about sex. It sells well, and thereby it's by far the easiest way to attract people to anything you like, especially if you have nothing interesting to sell or say.

    Are they protecting freedom, or just their own business? I am afraid many women are going to pay for this sex paranoia.

  31. Jason Terando

    Moral Minorities?

    Please... Craigslist shutting down their "adult services" section was not an impulsive reflex to appease some evil nanny state/corporate cabal. It was done because there was a boatload of illegal prostitution being brokered on it, including child prostitution. Tits not available on Facebook? So what? Facebook is simply trying to protect their market of narcissistic, Farmvilling tweeners whose parents will ban them from the site if it ends up being known as a porn repository.

    Is it seriously being suggested there are insufficient images of mammary glands available on the Internet? Really?

    How about steering a little of the conspiracy theory toward the countries that have set up nationally controlled firewalls (i.e. China, Saudi Arabia, etc.)? Oh wait, we can only bash on Evil Western Civilization, or more specifically, the USA and UK.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    link failure

    I love how you link to thw 'twitter censor' page, wherein a guy made 10 rapidfire posts and was shocked when the near-dupes were deleted. And then there are the dozen or more posts discrediting the original.

    but don't let that stop you from using it as evidence that the US is "ruining the internet" with censorship - an accusation which is particularly ironic given that the uk -government- is censoring and making criminal everything from nipple clamps to cartoons.

  33. ratfox

    Yeah right

    Because it is SO hard to find porn on the net, with these damn merkins censoring everything.

    If you want a version of Facebook that lets you post nudie pics of yourself, you can find one in 5 seconds flat. Of course, it will not have as many users, but that is because most people do not want to see your nudie pics, and stay on Facebook. And that is true whether on the web or in real life.

    You might as well complain that the supermarket wants you to wear clothes. If it let naked people in, they would lose most of their customers.

  34. Andus McCoatover

    Not just US...

    Comment I posted on Oulu's 65degreesnorth website:

    "Little bit of work required on the swearword filter. Laughed like a drain when I saw “****bly” censored when I actually wrote “k.n.o.b.b.l.y” (without the dots)"


    Why some countries are OK with 'fuc*k' and others not? I guess it's "Won't someone think of the children?" attitude.

    (Icon, 'cos Pirates of Penzanze is on telly, and in a week it's International "Talk-like-a-pirate" day, me ol' scurvy bilge-rats).

  35. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Thanks, Jane Fae

    Wow - where to start commenting on this? So many big points to go at. However, I think I'll just stick with the point that this is not "Anglo-Saxon prudery" - the restrictions on freedom of sexual expression run deep in other societies too: I'll cite China and various Islamic countries in defence of that statement. Okay, the UK and the American State governments have a long and not very pleasant history of intruding in the sexual activity of their citizens. This should not be taken as a general societal ill.

    I think it is fair to say that an "Anglo-Saxon" attitude to sexuality (or personal freedom in general) is a Millian "if it doesn't hurt me, get on with it". Whenever there has been a restriction on freedom, it has usually been a small number of people in government and law enforcement that have made it an issue. This has become a major issue since we have adopted a rights-based theory which says that anyone's opinion is prima facie as valid as anyone else, and that there is some right not to be offended which is protectable. This is, of course, nonsense, but it has gained traction in legal and policy-making circles, and this speaks directly to the topic of your article, since it *is* sensible, from a company perspective, to adopt a low-tolerance attitude to complaints, no matter how few. For instance, I am constantly amazed at how many complaints investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have only one or two complainants, and are based on "I'm offended/worried by X, so it must be banned".

    It is beyond time that it we realised that there is precisely NO right not to be offended, that if something doesn't suit an individual, that individual has a right to ignore it unless it *directly* affects them, or has a reasonable chance of affecting them, seriously (so, for instance, it is quite acceptable to make a protest about the number of guns in society, but not the number of prostitutes). However, I don't know how this is going to come about, because the debate is never had, because, you know, it is well ... not nice!

  36. morphoyle


    Most of the corporations that are pushing "values" aren't even US based. Thanks to insane corporate taxes in the US, most of these corporations are Irish now. As for prudishness on the internet, perhaps we are looking at two different networks. Last time I checked, the internet isn't very "pure". If the OP is referring to sites like facebook, they should be aware that there are many, many other websites on the internet. I've even heard advertisements for some that help you cheat on your spouse with other cheaters. Hardly puritanical.

  37. Sailfish

    Slow News Day?

    Honestly, blaming Facebook or craigslist or US or Anglophiles or any other boogieman for some sites placing limits on what content they will allow is just so Web 0.5. No one forces anyone to use these sites or services nor do they prevent some other enterprising group from creating their own, less prudish, sites.

    The internet is about choice, if you don't like what some Anglophiles come up with, there are any other alternatives available to choose from. Sure, nobody may ever view these other sites but then choices always have consequences.

    I'm much more concerned about FB and other sites privacy invasions than their content restrictions.

    btw, FIRST!

    1. Andus McCoatover

      btw, FIRST!

      Er, no. Moderatrix probably put the kybosh on that.

      (Might be that time of the month* - need to nip outside to see if it's a full moon. Actually, don't have to - I remember last Friday when 60% of the Finnish class - Suomalian, or other middle-eastern persuasion - were absent. They were 'nutting the concrete' every few hours because it was the festival of Eid. Grief, why can't they just hang a sock beside the fireplace on Christmas Eve like the rest of Christendom - oops - aha.??).

      *She used to be a wherewolf, but she's alright nooooooowwwww!

      (Sorry, Sarah. Better get my kevlar jacket, methinks)

  38. Spanners Silver badge

    2 peoples divided by a common language.

    And that was said by someone with an American mum.

    You can proudly show 100,000 people being murdered in an illegal invasion but one nipple for 0.43 of a second and there will be a national outcry!

  39. A 3


    "If concepts of personal freedom and social liberty were more ingrained in Anglo-Saxon culture"

    What! Because we are a bit prudish about nudity? Kind of forgets all the ingrained victories for liberty since 1215, including Magna Carta, Parliament, the Bill of Rights, the American Constitution, Constitutional Democracy, Universal Suffrage, and 100 other freedoms the Anglo Saxons were among the first to champion. Europeans may have a liberal attitude to nudity, but this concept of personal freedom didn't stop the rise the regimes of Napoleon, Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Ceauşescu, etc, etc.

    Sure we have our setbacks, Charles I, McCarthyism, the last Labour Government, etc. but the long term trend is definitely in one direction, and cooperate America’s attitude to boobs, is an idiotic reason to question how ingrained concepts of liberty are in the Anglo Saxon culture.

  40. Graham Marsden

    You could delete the world "prudishness"...

    ... and still have a valid article.

    Somehow the Yanks have got the idea that they "own the internet" and can dictate to everyone else what is or isn't acceptable content which is more than a little ironic given their First Amendment!

    Of course, as with many others, what they really mean by "Freedom of Expression" is "Freedom to say or show things that *we* agree with".

  41. This post has been deleted by its author

  42. Stu 18

    dangerous generalisations?

    In this article the writer links a few large internet companies with the population in general. Is this reasonable? Corporate sensibilities are ultimately dictated by legislation and public opinion. So taking that these companies are successful, or extremely so, they must be following to a great extent the wider average view towards the kind of content you are refferring to.

    This article also seems to link any kind of 'filtering' of nudity or erotica with the loaded term 'prudishness', there is no discussion of appropriateness. Now considering that many of the large internet services and/or companies are targeting all age groups including children, it is completely appropriate that content should be appropriate to the viewers. It is equally unfair to people that do not want their kids accidentially seeing erotica having it forced on to them.

    Finally making the generalisation that it is the 'anglo' peoples are 'prudish' in comparison depends on who you compare them to. Perhaps in comparison to some europeans, asians but probably not to muslims, indians, chinese - just covered off over half the planet there.

  43. Fizzle
    Paris Hilton


    Actually I'm more worried about their fundamentalist, religous fanaticism! Wars have been started over this.

    Special relationship? Keep it, I'll take my chance with the French - at least we can keep them under control with our archers.

    Paris - because, no doubt, her French is exemplary..

  44. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Don't like it? Don't use it.

    Frankly, I have 0 interest in IPhone specifically because Apple (and Steve Jobs in particular) are control junkies. This is not some American thing, this is them.

    Facebook? I just don't use it either; they own the site, they can set as many and as stupid of rules as they want, don't like them just don't use it.

    Regarding Google, I have read within Google they were deeply conflicted about this -- from what I've read, some within Google figured following the Chinese gov't demands to the letter (but trying to let as much information through as possible, unlike some search engines that exceeded their mandates) would help the flow of infromation compared to having no Google in China at all. Others wanted Google to leave. Ultimately, they did have a change of heart and pull out.

    Regarding movies -- I don't know what to say, the US classifies movies G, PG, PG13, R or AO (Adults Only), and some will water down what's in a movie to try to keep it PG13 instead of R, or especially R instead of AO (AO is mostly pronos so very few theaters air AO movies). BUT, movies here are not simply banned like they are in Britain, I think regarding movies then the US is *less* prudish than Britain.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Well, you might have a point.....

      About 20 years ago, I was in a movie theatre in San Francisco.

      Film was "Life of Brian".

      I laughed like a drain. (IIRC, I actually cracked a rib, laughing so much) Rest of the audience (Americans) didn't get it at all. Sat stonewalled and completely puzzled by it.

      It's cultural. My Hungarian school-friend can't abide Python, but wets herself over the "carry-on" series... Horses for courses, I guess..

  45. Dr. Ellen

    US not the whole problem.

    It's not US prudishness - it's everybody's prudishness. Say something bad about Islam, and you'll be buried under rants and death threats. Say something unkind about the King of Thailand, and they'll throw a hissy fit. France and Germany raise a fuss over anything to do with Nazis. Australia tried to throw up a curtain of purity. We need not even give details about China.

    And each and every one of them wants to make their obsessions illegal.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is US prudishness ruining the internet?

    Er....Yes. In the same way that hysteria over terrorists, teens playing violent games, pedomonsters and anyone looking any p0rn that is considered deviant, have all been imported from the US of A.....

    But then again we are the 51 state of the US in all but name. Saying that though, we go much further with our reactionary / knee jerk laws because we don't have the same constitutional protections that they do....

  47. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Unintended Consequences

    Oddly enough one of the more liberal blogging sites in the US is the sexuality orientated "Adult FriendFinders / Passion" conglomerate where large numbers of bloggers (mainly female) chatter about all subjects under the sun - and not all about sex as you might expect. While posts on the site are "moderated" discussions cover a great many subjects on the blogs that would get you banned at most other sites.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the point?

    Aren't social networks really for people who need to find a life? Censorship isn't the issue, getting a life is.

  49. Mad Dave


    militant atheists making juvenile statements akin to "chrischuns sux0rz!!1111"

  50. Arhu
    Jobs Horns

    More like religious prudishness is ruining pretty much everything

    Be it christian, islamic, macintologic - it's not a corporate driven problem, it's a problem caused by those with imaginary friends and/or those who worship men in black turtle-necks. If it were a corporate problem, there'd be no corporations producing porn.

    It's also a problem of curtailing to a minority, which has been caused by the pendulum swinging too far in the "political correctness" spectrum.

    It's also a product of an excessively litigious US society which has thrown away the concept of personal responsibility and replaced it with "foreseeable consequences" which is much more lucrative in a court room.

    At the end of the day, I prefer freedom of choice over "freedom from porn", freedom to decide what's appropriate for myself & my family over having to settle for whatever some company selling electronic toys or purveying internet services decides is appropriate for the braying masses.

  51. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Its our political system

    Business interests made a deal with the devil (moral conservatives), so to speak, to maintain a viable presence in our two party political system. Other than that, these two groups have little in common. The pro censorship forces are more closely aligned with the Chinese communists or the (now defunct) Russian Soviet party. Meanwhile, business interests don't like being side tracked by agendas that have anything other than maximizing market share and profits. They can't afford to alienate part of their customer base due to race, religion or cultural issues. The only color that's important to them is green.

    But we (the US) have this problem in that, in order to survive economically, businesses must maintain political power. And in order to do so, they need to form a coalition with some other group. And the only group up for sale, so to speak, is the social conservative movement.

    Fix our two party system and our campaign contribution system, which forces politicians to beg for funds and run for office almost continuously, and business interests will drop the moral minority like a hot rock.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is US prudishness ruining the internet?


    I live in the Southern US, and one can see every day the influence of The Jesus Cult™. First it was print, then television, and now the internet, but the government did a not-so-bad job of keeping them in check. However, since the Reagan years and the rise of Neo-Conservatism, the lines between government and a small vocal fundamentalist Christian minority have started to blur (this was especially true in the Bush II White House).

  53. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    There's also a certain confusion with numbers

    In some cases, a single complaint is enough to spark a change in policy - especially on the Internet. What I would like to understand is why a company can be aware that its user base is counted in tens or hundreds of thousands, yet one complaint sends its marketing department in a tizzy.

    It would seem to me that a bit of objectivity is in order. If your user base is estimated at 200,000 then one complaint is insignificant. Actually, I would think that 2% of unhappy users is par for the course, meaning 4,000 complaints should be necessary before even starting to worry.

    And of course, I mean 4,000 separate complaints, written differently from different IP addresses and posted at different times - stuffing Internet boxes is so easy these days.

  54. bazza Silver badge

    Not just prudery

    The US social networks may be overely censorious when it comes to English langauge posters, but I bet they struggle more when it comes to foreign languages like French, German and Japanese. Has anyone in Facebook heard of Gaelic? Does Facebook think that Basque is an item of clothing?

    Anyway, on to other unappealing American exports.

    MacDonalds? Bleah. (In fact, all fast food burger/chicken/etc. outlets? Bleah).

    Customer service? Want a refund on a faulty Apple product? Sign a confidentiality agreement first. ( You might be allowed to piss off the customer in the US because they're too poor to sue. But over here there's laws about that kind of thing, and we get the government to do it for us :-)

    Guns? Ask the Mexican police where all the weaponry that the drugs gangs are busily using comes from.

    Watching American TV is a bit like climbing a greasy pole. You get three parts through the story, and then it goes back two. This is to account for the number of ad breaks the US companies put in, and their perception of their audience's attention span. That may work in the US (where no one really watches telly anyway). Alas our lazy European broadcasters can't be bothered to make their own.

    It's noticable how American beer, apart from the lamentable bud, hasn't really made it across this side of the pond. We can be grateful for that, at least.

    Having said that, Sierra Nevada is reasonably OK, though disturbingly it comes in an American pint bottle - TOO SMALL. If they start succeeding in exporting their 'definition' of a pint, it really will be time to revoke their independence.

  55. Anonymous Coward

    Time For

    GNUPorn, I guess.

    And also GNUbook and GNOOGLE. Can someone call Richard Stallman ?

    My idea would revolve around something Bittorrent-style. Everybody would host part of this thing on his/her PC/DSL line.

    Gnoogle would probably be hampered by the huge I/O requirements of an intersection operation. (E.g. my PC has the index for "football" and someone else's has "american" - both PCs need to perform lots of I/O to determine the set of documents containing "american football").

  56. Sludged


    "It has issues with profane language"

    Obviously then no-one at FB has read or seen some of my daughter's friends posting.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    Lots of cultures involved

    Surely FaceBook has a right to have rules in place regardless of what you think? If you don't like the rules FB puts in place, don't join! It's quite simple and nothing to do with the conspiracy that the world is hurtling back to the 1600's.

    I think almost social networking is balls and I only participate in one, an art sharing site, and even they have rules on nudity and safe-guards in place to ensure that nudity is automatically hidden. You have to join and you have to be a paid-up member of the site to unlock the nude-art sections.

    One of the problems we have is that the world is now smaller, in that we are now able to draw in people from cultures and countries all over the globe at a seconds notice. You're no longer talking about a small group of people in a similar culture, say county or city level in one country. So what one culture considers disgusting is acceptable to another. Thinking here that the Japanese consider Hentai ( comic/draw porn ) to be acceptable, we may not. The German's consider that blood should not be shown in video games, most other countries have no issue, but Germany has less of an issue with semi-nudity in advertising that other countries.

    The US corps thrive on having things the same the world over, McDonald's eateries are designed to be identical all over the globe, the US corps have an issue when cultures clash and they seek to level them all, thus having to drop to the lowest common denominator, in the case of nudity, that is simply banning it and ensuring no one is offended.

    I'm not defending it, I believe we should all have the right to make our own decisions, but when it comes to the green and lawyers screwing millions out of each other's clients, just 'cos a nipple was shown at the wrong place, wrong time, you can understand why the US corps my seek to "Puritanise" the rest of the world to protect their own pots.

  58. Schultz

    Almost there

    It's "das Bild", although when you talk about the paper it'll be "die Bild" (-Zeitung). Refer to Mark Twain for details (

  59. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    US cultural imperialism.

    This entire effect is noticeable (and brutal) if you are a Canadian. Try maintaining your own separate culture and beliefs when parked right on top of these folks. Not easy.

  60. Jason Bloomberg

    Who runs the Star Chamber?

    "US courts have long been more supportive of commercial porn than UK ones and if Americans seem a tad more squeamish when it comes to bare flesh, they are far more resistant to attempts to censor speech".

    That may be so, but what we see is the reality, not the theory - Apple, Facebook and others are censoring what *they* consider unacceptable as has been noted. So the real questions are who has the right of control over content and power to censor?

    Plus there's the issue of jurisdiction dictating what is and is not allowed legally and the power to challenge any implementation. America may have robust First Amendment and Free Speech principles but it doesn't necessarily protect such rights for non-Americans.

    If it is accepted that all governments have the right to protect its citizens in the way they believe they should and need to be protected the only solution, in a global village which crosses jurisdictions, is to 'dumb-down' to the lowest common denominator or accept the "my rules apply" of a single jurisdiction.

    Perhaps we need 'regional Facebook' rather than 'global' where cultures clash? The crux of the problem is that we want to use their service but do not want to play by their rules, want them to adopt ours (and that cuts both ways). Immovable object meets unstoppable force; the conundrum can be noted but it's not easy to solve.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mainly US prudishness

    I've been sensored in one well-known forum for using the expression "I was seriously pissed off" ("pissed" was replaced by a string of ***).

    In another well-known forum, people (not me, yet) are frequently censored for "dropping the "F-bomb" (!) or even "dropping the H-bomb" (for using the word "hell").

  62. Wize

    Some of the censorship examples are not about being a prude

    Read the link about facebook being censored. The writer talks about bad language and mentioning twitter gets his posts removed but by others experimentation its because he flooded facebook with status updates.

    Apple banning iboobs isn't because they are prudes. They have playboy on their store. Playboy makes them money. Why let the customer have them for free when you can charge for your porn apps.

    But we all like to join the dots and come up with a picture that isn't really there.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    What is Anglo-saxon about a country in which, in large areas, half or more speak Spanish and large, probably majoriy parts of the rest originate ancestrally from anywhere but Northern Europe? Or do you call Africa, Italy, Celtic Ireland, Spain, S. America, E. Europe "anglo-saxon"?

    Could we knock this one on the head and so help to stop lumping N. Europeans, particularly British, with a very foreign culture and attitude of another large, commercially powerful area on the other side of a very large sea?

  64. Bryce 2

    It's PC gone mad

    I personally think the problem is "Political Correctness". I understand the point behind there being a certain level of "PC", but the distance the world has crossed that line is a bit crazy. You can see aspects of "PC gone Mad" everywhere.

    Everyone is afraid of offending someone. You can't say anything with offending someone. If even one person complains, it's a Bad Thing!

    As for Americans being stupid/dumb/lazy/etc. Every country has a portion of their population that is the same way, it's just that the American failings get broadcast out to the entire world.

    It's also always the bad things that get transmitted to everyone as well, hardly ever the good things. Just the nature of the media beast I suppose.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "If concepts of personal freedom and social liberty were more ingrained in Anglo-Saxon culture, the agendas of moral minorities would not be so far advanced in either national governments or private sectors."

    They used to be but over the last century and a half have been eroded from the public consciousness by what can only be described as a concerted effort of brain washing by various governments.

    Ask the average person to define liberty, or even better rights and where they originate from. In the the US they would say the constitution (false, the constitution defines the bounds of government) while in the UK they would look at you like you just raped their puppy. Rights exist because we do, not because government grants them to us.

    Forget live and let live, people can speak out about anything they disagree with, it is simply that people don't understand how to separate their own morality from rights. You do not have the right not to be offended, you do not have the right to attempt to get government to beat someone up because you were offended but you do have the right to state you were offended and call the person whatever horrible names you choose because you were offended. What is so hard to grasp about this concept?

  66. Tim 54
    Thumb Down

    Commercial rules

    In a free economy businesses are going to go for where their profits lie. Facebook's customers are not the freeloaders using the service, but the advertisers who fund it. The reality is that they have their own ethical standards relating to their market position and therefore Coca-cola is probably not going to want it's ads running over the Anal-fisting fanclub. The risk of alienating the much larger group of people who disapprove of the activity is far higher than the profit lost by not catering to every sub-group in society.

    In some senses this may actually be more democratic than the government approach which does seek to ensure space for minority groups. In a free society, corporations and individuals are free to self-censor in the same way that they are free to form supportive groups.

    There are plenty of spaces for those who want to have their "adult" based social network. They just exist in paywall restricted areas because they need to self-fund.

    One persons freedom to express themselves naked conflicts with anothers freedom to not be exposed to pics of their penis because they happen to be your friend. I suspect 99% of the world's population is more conservative than the values of the UK - the internet is much 'freeer' than the prevailing societal attitudes as it stands. If the rules were too restrictive, people would move services, but the reality is that they are happy with it.

    Welcome to the real world.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A corporation is not an individual.

    I'll believe "a corporation [is] more like an individual" when it can - quite literally - have fag, go for a dump, then take a walk to the shops. Anything else is just legal chicanery intended to allow corporations to represent themselves as something other than their real selves: Agents of Satan and swallowers of his Demon Seed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's nice to know...

      ...that as the owner of a small -corporation- which employs a few local people, I am considered a seed-swallowing agent of Satan.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    article in brief:

    "Facebook Facebook Facebook Facebook Apple Google"

    Solution? Stay away from these crappy companies and their agendas. Turn off your TV sets. 200 channels is no choice at all when they're all owned by 5 companies. When Facebook censors your shit, don't post there. Tell your friends not to post there either. Start your own website. Start your own hosting company. You are not powerless. Take action. Do something. Don't buy an iPhone. simple. easy. solutions.

  69. Jane Fae


    Hmmm. I write tis after reading the early comments, so maybe the overview changes. However, i get the distinct sense that i have failed in this piece. Because a fair few people haven't got what i was getting at and, in the end, it is my job as a writer to communicate my meaning clearly.

    This s not having a go at anyone in particular (americans, puritans, anglo-saxons). Nor is it particularly advocating any single moral stance. Rather, this piece was intended to explore the question of whether it might be damaging, culturally, if some of the world's largest social media all tend to be managed or owned by representatives of one cultural strand.

    Facebook and Apple are good exemplars of that strand.

    Its certainly not about whether theit take on censorship is good or bad. I am informed that my outpourings tend to be regularly blocked in the Middle East. Fair enough: i don't agree with tha view, but if the authorities in Dubai don't wish to permit their populace to access my subversive writings, that is between the people of Dubai and the government of that country.

    What would be far more contentious would be if Dubai controlled a major media channel, and censored off the air all mention of a particular debate...or certain sorts of images.

    That is compounded in this case by the fact that the world's largest social networking site is US controlled: the world's fastest advancing mobile technology is US-conrolled...and so on.

    Its not a particularly US phenomenon: probably, as some have sugested, more of a corporate one. TheUS, culturally, is far more tolerant of speech than many European countries...but far more squeamish about imagery we would probably consider quite acceptable. (I am reminded of comments from another context altogether: UK legal representatives incapable of understanding what particular imagery they have declared extreme and pornographic could be if NOT produced for sexual titilation).

    Perhaps a far more mundane example - but maybe even more insidious - is the fact that many spell check programmes are set initially to the US version...creating a generation of UK schoolkids who believe the US spelling of various words is the "correct" one.

    Personally, i think nudity is pretty much a non-issue, and find Facebook's obsession with it to be laughable. It worries me a little, though, as it contributes to sexualisation of imagery that is often not meant to be sexual.

    Back to Apple and corporatism: the arguments going on are between Apple and news media owners in the US, in Germany and in the UK, because Apple is close o demanding they censor their news in order to be published on Apple. Acceptable? A lot of people thnk not.

    To be honest, at the end of the day, i felt that the bigest issue out of all of this is the way in which accounts get banned on a simple complaint: if the corporatesare teaching anything, it is that offense = power. Get offended and you have a right to dictate things to othrs...not a good result.



    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Get offended and you have a right to dictate things to others

      We call this "Western Civilisation."

  70. Rob - Denmark

    Good thing I'm not a prude

    The ad served by Google in the middle of this article?

    "Find your nice Thai Women" with a picture of what indeed looks like a nice Thai Woman.

    And two buttons "Browse photos" and "Join now" and a link to the website.

    Now, I'm at work and can't click the buttons/link, so where do I register my complaint?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Rob - Denmark

      Cheers for the heads up, I knew there must have been a downside to Noscript/Flashblock and you just illustrated it for me.

      Buying my Thai bride now (click)

  71. Malcolm Boura, British Naturism

    With great power comes great responsibility

    In one respect it is true that the USA is not prudish but it is the product of some very warped and hypocritical attitudes. Violence good, paid for nudity good, informative or artistic nudity bad. It is totally ridiculous that most of the sex related material available to young people is pornography and most of the information about how people look is from airbrushed glamour photography. No wonder young people have such mixed up ideas.

    When there are a number of competing companies, of broadly similar size so that they really do compete, then leaving it to the market place is fine. When a company is dominant it is near impossible for anyone to compete (Microsoft, Apple, Facebook etc) and since there is no effective market the rules of the market place are no longer appropriate. They have enormous power but there is little or nothing to ensure that they use it responsibly. They can, and do, trample on freedom of expression according to prejudice of a few individuals or perceived popular prejudice. The consequences of that are widespread and serious harm.

    Even within the UK we have the same effect. The only way to get magazines into the distribution chain is if either the Menzies or WHSmith censor approves of them. Courier may not be an option either. They also censor what they will carry and where they will deliver to.

    1. Mad Dave

      Of course,

      The idea of running around record shops and independent retailers attempting to get them to sell your 'zine is totally unworkable ...

      If it's popular, people will buy it.

      I'm a regular on WoS. Why does such a site still exist? Because, even though there's no money left in it, people still want to talk about it.

      Get your message prepared, and people will listen to it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "Courier may not be an option either. They also censor what they will carry and where they will deliver to."

      What the hell? Are you serious? That's seriously f*cked up. And brits call out the US for being censorial? Ha-whaaat?

  72. Mr. Ed

    Ruining the Internet?

    Does a rule against pooping in the pool ruin swimming? I'm sure there are people that like a nice warm dip in the septic tank, but a business like Facebook might be after a little wider audience.

  73. Pablo


    It's irritating that Craigslist never really explained their decision to pull the adult section and whether or not it was permanent. BUT in their defense, they clearly made a deliberate effort not to "ruin the internet" by confining the change to US-based listings only. Of course it would have been even better if they had limited it to the states whose attorney-generals were giving them grief, but whatever.

  74. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Wear protection to prevent viral marketing

    This comes down to US online services going for the maximum number of advertising eyeballs and maximum viral marketing. Just think of how many sites still have special IE 6 support to keep every single pair of visiting eyeballs. Allowing adult content would require a complete rework of marketing strategies and web site security, and probably in a complicated way that no dot-com wants to pay for. It might make content better but that's not the point. It's easier to ban adult content using overly simplified rules.

    It's still very easy to host your own content so I'm not worried about freedom of speech. least until net-neutrality goes away and the toll trolls say no to personal hosting.

  75. Andus McCoatover

    A simple tracert (traceroute, if you're a penguin-admirer)...

    ... to your fave pr0nsite would surely show the Americans aren't in the slightest prudish.

    Quite the opposite.

    Merely part with your Credit Card number, security 3-digit mumber and enjoy some serious exercise for your right hand.

    Alternaitvely, merely open your Googlemail spam account, and be gloriously amazed what America can offer, at "up to" 80% off!

    Wow. Almost creamed my pants.

    Nope. Yanks aren't in the slightest bit prudish.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022