Today I learned my blog is being redirected to another URL name in some countries. This is a new “feature” in Blogger that Google added beginning a few weeks back.
Instead of exposing a single “Blogger” to the world then censoring it to meet the requirements of local governments, Google decided to mirror content into country-specific domains then redirect users from foreign countries to the mirror associated with their country. If that country decides to censor something, it will somehow be noted on any page so the reader knows they’re seeing a filtered view.
Readers can also try surfing to the original blog URL by appending /ncr (No Country Redirect) after the main name, such as
The above approach assumes a country doesn’t filter on that pattern and block the request. For example: my blog is blocked in China so appending /ncr is unlikely to accomplish anything.
Q: Why is this happening?
A: Migrating to localized domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law. By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.
Q: How will this change affect my blog?
A: Blog owners should not see any visible differences to their blog other than the URL redirecting to a ccTLD. URLs of custom domains will be unaffected.
Q: Will this affect search engine optimization on my blog?
A: After this change, crawlers will find Blogspot content on many different domains. Hosting duplicate content on different domains can affect search results, but we are making every effort to minimize any negative consequences of hosting Blogspot content on multiple domains.
The majority of content hosted on different domains will be unaffected by content removals, and therefore identical. For all such content, we will specify the blogspot.com version as the canonical version using rel=canonical. This will let crawlers know that although the URLs are different, the content is the same. When a post or blog in a country is affected by a content removal, the canonical URL will be set to that country’s ccTLD instead of the .com version. This will ensure that we aren’t marking different content with the same canonical tag.
Echo Comments Not Working on Redirects
I was unaware this was happening until today when readers in New Zealand and Australia informed me that comments were no longer working.
Sites With Lost Functionality So Far
The “key” within Echo’s database that associates comments to a blog entry is the full blog URL (site name + post permanent URL).
Filtering off the language code alone is insufficient because for some reason Google changed the suffix for New Zealand from “.com” to “.co”.
I will get an email into Google to see if they can implement a scheme to only add a suffix. Then I still need to get Echo to do something or alternatively write a Java script to strip off the language code.
Anyone using Echo with blogger is going to have these same issues.
Twitter Employs “Filtering” as Well
Tech Week Europe reports Google To Censor Blogger Sites On Country-By-Country Basis
Google follows Twitter’s lead and will use country-code top level domains to censor content as required.
Google has revealed that its Blogger service will now be able to block content on a country-by-country basis, just one week after Twitter announced that it would implementing a similar filtering strategy.
“Migrating to localised domains will allow us to continue promoting free expression and responsible publishing while providing greater flexibility in complying with valid removal requests pursuant to local law,” wrote Google on a help page. “By utilizing ccTLDs, content removals can be managed on a per country basis, which will limit their impact to the smallest number of readers. Content removed due to a specific country’s law will only be removed from the relevant ccTLD.”
Twitter’s decision to introduce this selective censorship attracted criticism from users last week, suggesting that the site was effectively aiding oppressive regimes squash freedom of speech. Google’s implementation has been lower key, and whilst critics will argue the same points, the company has emphasised that the measure will prevent blanket censorship of content whilst keeping them in line with the law.
The BBC reports that Google will initially roll out the changes to Australia, New Zealand and India, but plan to apply the measures globally.
More Tech Week “Tweet” Articles
Twitter said that it must begin censoring tweets, if the company was going to continue to continue its international expansion. Twitter has been blocked by a number of governments, including China and the former Egyptian regime after it was used to ignite anti-government protests.
Big Brother is watching. However, it’s too late to worry about 1984. The worry now is if the next stop is the Year 2525 where “Everything you think do and say is in the pill you took today”.
Within a couple of days, Google fixed the problem insofar as getting comments to work. Thanks Google! However, is that the real problem or is censorship the real problem?
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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