What Exactly Is Adult Content? Google Forces Ning Onto A Slippery Slope.

On Tuesday Ning changed its long standing policy on allowing networks that show pornography and adult material. “Adult social networks don’t pull their own weight,” Ning CEO Gina Bianchini said, and “our ad partners aren’t big fans of the adult networks.”

As far as I can tell, at this time Ning has only one advertising partner – Google. Google won’t put adsense on sites that contain “Pornography, adult, or mature content,” so Ning was at risk of being banned by Google despite the fact that only a very small portion of the networks on Ning are adult oriented.

The problem is that it isn’t clear exactly what networks are being banned. In the blog post, Bianchini said that “adult social networks” are being discontinued. In response to inquiries by some network operators, Ning clarified their policy today in a new blog post. “As it relates to the Ning Platform, adult networks include, but aren’t limited to pornography and depictions of sexual acts,” Bianchini says.

Examples of adult content, says Bianchini, include Pornography or images of sexual acts, Nudity intended to sexually arouse the viewer, Graphic photos or videos and Fetishes.

Ah but wait. Examples of sites that are outside of the ban include Networks for heterosexual, gay, lesbian or transgender individuals, Nudist networks, Networks for educational, medical, or clinical purposes that contain nudity, Breast Feeding networks, Art containing some nudity, Travel networks that include content on nude beaches and Networks promoting safe sex.

Ok, so nudist networks and pictures of lactating breasts are fine (as long as it isn’t a fetish). But basic nudity for erotic purposes isn’t. I guess I understand where the line is, but Google’s definition is much more subjective and general (Pornography, adult, or mature content). Is a transgender social network mature content? seems like it is to me.

And how does violence fit in to all of this? Is there any amount of human carnage that would qualify as adult content?

Good luck with this, Ning. Perhaps that’s why Google turned YouTube PG.