Blogger to customers: Your blog will now run on multiple domains so we can censor it

The worlds largest blog host by a wide margin, Blogger (or Blogspot.com) has now actively started redirecting visitors to top level country domains (ccTLD’s) based on which country they are in.

I run a real-time analytics service and we have roughly 700,000 Blogspot customers. At 1AM on January 30th (UTC time) we saw a huge number of new domains appearing on our radar. Most of these were new blogspot domains ending in the .in top level country domain and we saw several others.

The way this new configuration works is as follows. If you have example.blogspot.com as your blog:

  • If visitors arrive from a country in which this is not enabled by Blogger, they will see example.blogspot.com as per usual.
  • If visitors arrive from a country that has requested, or may request in future, that Google censor content, the visitor is redirected to example.blogspot.ccTLD, where ccTLD is replaced with a country top level domain. This is example.blogspot.in in India or example.blogspot.com.au in Australia, for example.

The effect of this is:

  1. Blog owners are likely to be looking at their blog on a different domain to their visitors. E.g. you will see your blog on example.blogspot.co.nz if you are in New Zealand and your visitors will be visiting your blog using domains like example.blogspot.co.za, example.blogspot.in, example.blogspot.com.au, etc.
  2. Because your blog now lives on multiple domains, your content is duplicated on the Web. Google claim they deal with this by setting a canonical tag in your HTML content that points to the .com domain so crawlers will not be confused.
  3. Your visitors are now spread across as many websites as Google has top level country domains for Blogger. Rather than having a single page about bordeaux wines, you instantly have 10 or 20 pages about bordeaux wines, they’re all identical in every way except the URL and your visits are spread evenly across them.

A URL or Uniform Resource Locator has always been a canonical string that represents the location of a page on the Web. Modifying the worlds largest blog hosting service to break this convention in order to enable Web censorship, by Google no less, leaves me deeply concerned. I can only speculate that either Google is throwing Blogspot under the bus, or Google’s view of their company and its role on the Web has become deeply flawed.

7 thoughts on “Blogger to customers: Your blog will now run on multiple domains so we can censor it

  1. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after
    browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back
    often!

  2. Hi there, I discovered your site by the use of Google whilst searching for a similar topic, your site came up, it appears good. I have bookmarked to my favourites|added to my bookmarks.

  3. This is really exciting! I don’t think you’ve taken into account what happens day to day, but still a good post.

  4. I doubt its evil. Google favoured national content stuck to national tlds for quite a time. What you describe is just an extension of their long term agenda of newly divided, filtered world. It is not for censorship, I doubt that. Its for selling more ads.

  5. Very nice article,
    Search localization invented by Google aims at restricting the freedom of information spread. I believe that Google plays the cup of the web right now.
    For example, there are many videos on YouTube aren’t available for anyone who lives outside certain countries like US, Canada, or Britain. And I am not talking about entertainment videos. In this sense, it just another step forward in the same direction adopted by the big brother.

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