Growing by the Bay

San Francisco Ballet: pornography?

san francisco ballet

This year the San Francisco Ballet, celebrating its 75th year, will premiere ten ballets by ten choreographers, including Julia Adam, Val Caniparoli, Jorma Elo, Margaret Jenkins, James Kudelka, Mark Morris, Yuri Possokhov, Paul Taylor, Stanton Welch and Christopher Wheeldon. I was interesting in learning more. But when I looked on Google for the ballet’s website, this is what I found (exactly as I found it, nothing manipulated, except for the addition of the red arrow):

google says san francisco ballet is pornography

In the interest of research, I clicked on the editorializing link, and I was taken here:

stumbleupon's opinion of sf ballet

So what has happened here is a few (presumably) members of StumbleUpon tagged the San Francisco Ballet’s website as a porn site — perhaps they are uptight types who object to images like the one at the top of this post, harmless as it is. (Yuan Yuan Tan and Damian Smith in Wheeldon’s After The Rain, © Erik Tomasson, from the ballet’s website.) And, on the basis of that, Google dutifully passes along the porn tag with its site links. This seems to me a dangerous practice. For example, it would be easy for a dirty trickster to tar an opposing candidate’s site in this way. I wonder if the inclusion of the tag would lock the site down on computers with certain parental controls in place.

With the objectionable images of all kinds that are thrown at us every day, it is discouraging to see a beautiful site like the SF Ballet’s marred with this kind of tag. Again, to be clear, the tag comes from StumbleUpon, not Google — I think you might need to be running the StumbleUpon toolbar in order to see it. But whether it is Google or StumbleUpon that is responsible, is it really appropriate to pass on such tags with search results?





Friday Roundup


  1. Digg this here.

    I submitted this to Digg, the most popular Social Bookmarking site, to bring attention to how this matter may distort and manipulate search engines.

  2. Good grief! The right wingnuts strike again. There are two sections of this country and the divide between them is wider than the distance between the earth and the moon.

  3. Thanks, TracerFX.

    Nancy, I don’t really know how the site got labeled porn. But that does seem the likeliest possibility — I can’t imagine that real porn aficianados would find their cravings satisfied by the San Francisco Ballet.

    I agree that there is a big divide between the progressives / humanists and the reactionaries / fundamentalists. I suspect that, ironically, the latter group frequents porn sites as much or more than the former does.

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