Google deletes artist’s blog that included 14 years of his work
Artist and writer Dennis Cooper was in for a rude shock when he was notified that his Gmail account had been deactivated, along with the blog that he had maintained on the Google-owned platform Blogger (Google bought the service in 2003) since 2002 for 14 years. What is even more shocking is that Google deleted his entire blog without any warning.
Since then, readers of Cooper’s blog have been greeted with a message simply stating, “Sorry, the blog at denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.”
To make matters worse, Cooper says that the work on the blog was only on the blog.
“Nothing on the blog is backed-up or archived anywhere else, as far as I know,” he explained in a Facebook message.
Cooper says he discovered he could no longer access his Blogger account at the end of June, and that his blog had been taken offline. Along with his blog, Google disabled Cooper’s email address, through which carried out most of his communication. He got no correspondence from Google about why it decided to kill his email address and blog.
The only explanation Google gave Cooper, who considers his blog a “serious work of mine,” was a stock message that he was in “violation of the terms of service agreement.” “I can’t even get a response from them or anything. I have no idea why they did it or what’s going on,” Cooper says.
“There seems to be some major stonewalling coming from somewhere, but I don’t know where or why,” he wrote in a Facebook post. Google told Fusion that it is “aware of this matter” but wouldn’t comment any further.
Cooper is not sure whether Google have just disabled the blog or completely erased it. The latter would mean he has lost years of artistic output that included writings, research, and photographs, as well as a platform through which he engaged almost daily with a community of followers and fellow artists.
Some have labelled suspension of Cooper’s blog as censorship in the art world and raised concerns about Google’s power to eliminate alternative voices.
Stuart Comer, a curator at MoMA and a longtime fan of Cooper’s work, said this is effectively a return to the culture wars of the 80s and 90s.
“I think this is definitely censorship. The problem is nobody knows what the specific issue is and certainly Dennis has posted images that one might find troubling,” Comer said. “It’s just yet another means by which certain members of the government or certain internet conglomerates have decided to make it impossible for culture to be produced.”
His latest GIF novel (as the term suggests, a novel constructed with animated GIFs) was also mostly saved to the blog. “Of all the things about this that concern and worry me, losing that novel is my greatest fear,” Cooper said.
For other artists who work predominantly online, Cooper’s advice to them is to maintain their own domain and back everything up.
“As long as you back everything up. I don’t see really the danger,” he said. “But if you’re at the mercy of Google or some place like Google, obviously I’m a living example of not to be blind like that and think that everything is hunky dory.”
Cooper is hoping that public pressure may compel Google to respond; however, he has also accepted the fact that in order to regain his work, he may have to sue the search giant.
“[If Google doesn’t] respond and rectify the situation, I won’t have any choice but to sue them,” Cooper told Fusion. “I don’t want to do that for obvious reasons, but I will if I have to.”