An article by José Daniel Fierro in the webzine, Rebelión suggesting that Google was blocking their Blogger service to Cuban internet users has been getting lots of love around the Spanish-speaking blogosphere, most notably by Eduardo Arcos, Manuel Almeida, and Mariano Amartino’s Weblog Sobre Weblogs. Coming off of news that Google is censoring search results in China, this has caused some to comment that proprietary companies such as Google are lowering their ethical standards in order to enter the markets of authoritative regimes.

Here’s a translation of part of Fierro’s article:

Some Cuban bloggers are concerned by the impossibility to access their weblogs in the past few weeks. They are all hosted on Blogger, a service provided by Google.

In their denunciations, they blame the company for blocking service to the island which prevents them from updating and visiting the weblogs. This only takes place with Blogger, but not other companies with identical services which continue functioning normally.

Although many of them have tried to contact Blogger to find out what is happening, so far, the administrators of the American server have not given any explanation. It has however, awoken a sense of alarm.

So I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon running around cyberspace, trying to figure out if Cuban internet users really were being blocked from accessing their blogspot.com blogs. I emailed Ernesto and Edda and left comments on as many Cuban blogspot blogs as I could find. I started to get suspicious when no one replied, but then this morning Ernesto wrote back saying he could, in fact access his Blogspot blog. As he says:

I immediately decided to try and see if I was still able to access my old blog at blogger, which I maintained before continuing my personal blog in the web site of the Opera Web Browser, and you can see that I was able to update it as I wrote this bilingual post about the situation. Nevertheless this doesn’t prove anything, since Google may have blocked some and not all Cuban blogs. I am not aware of any Cuban blogger in a situation similar to the one described above.

In a comment, Andy Carvin might have the explanation:

Apparently Blogger had a massive system failure this week, and many of its blogs worldwide were shut down. Are you still having access problems? Supposedly the problem has been fixed.

It appears that Fierro jumped the gun when he reported that Blogger was inaccessible from Cuba and especially by suggesting that it was Google who was doing the blocking. But it also brings up the issue of credibility in the blogosphere. In the medium of weblogs, stories aren’t stories unless they’re covered by a lot of people. Posts about censorship tend to spread like wildfire, but unlike major newspapers (well, they make their mistakes too), there’s no built-in mechanism to check the facts before the stories reach their audience. Weblogs and Wikipedia won’t be seen as credible sources until they are in fact credible sources.

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