Who’s responsible for shutting down a number of anti-Obama Blogspot accounts?

When Carissa Snedeker went to log into her Blogspot account Wednesday evening at about 7:30, she had no idea what would be waiting for her. She had created her blog, Blue Lyon, three years ago and up until this point had very few problems posting new content. But this time a message from Google came up when she visited her dashboard.

“This blog has been locked due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations,” the message stated. “You may not publish new posts until your blog is reviewed and unlocked.”

When Snedeker clicked on the link at the bottom of the message she came to another one that told her that her blog “has characteristics of a spam blog” and, because of this, it had been locked. It allowed her the chance to send an “unlock request” but told her she’d have to wait up to four business days before someone at Google could review her blog and confirm it wasn’t publishing spam.

blogspot locked

“At first I thought it was just this random thing with Blogger’s spam bots,” she told me in a phone interview. “I thought that perhaps in their looking across the blogger universe, that I got accidentally flagged somehow. Stuff like that happens.”

But a short time later Snedeker received an email from another blogger claiming that a number of anti-Obama blogs had been “hacked” that same night. After some digging it became apparent that several Blogspot accounts had been shut down because of similar spam issues, and nearly all of them had three things in common: Most were pro-Hillary Clinton blogs, all were anti-Barack Obama, and several were listed on justsaynodeal.com, an anti-Obama website.

A “Flag Blog” link sits at the very top of every free Blogspot account. If a person finds objectionable content on a Blogspot site or suspects it’s publishing spam, he or she can click on the link and it will send a notice to Google requesting “human review.”

I spoke to several of the bloggers who had accounts locked and every single one was convinced that it was Obama supporters who had flagged the blogs in some kind of concerted effort to silence them. But when I asked for specific evidence of this, most simply pointed out that only anti-Obama blogs were targeted — a fact that is certainly suspicious but not especially conclusive.

The incident highlights the often-contentious relationship between online Hillary and Obama supporters. Popular sites like Digg.com have consistently posted anti-Hillary links and popular liberal blog Daily Kos experienced a “boycott” a few months ago when several Hillary supporters left the site.

A blogger who uses the pseudonym “GeekLove” (she wouldn’t agree to a phone interview and wouldn’t tell me her real name) said to me via email that when her blog, Come A Long Way, was shut down she thought it was a fluke as well.

“I also felt a little bit humiliated that someone would think to characterize my Blog as ‘spam,’” she said. “I had no idea why it would be ‘spam’ I assumed it was just some sort of mistake. I did think it was an isolated incident. I requested the Blogger review. I then went to the Hillary Clinton Forum, a place I frequently participate in on line discussions, and I saw Nobama‘s post ‘Blogger just shut down my NObama Blog!!‘ Then when other Blogger blogs were affected, I knew it was more than coincidence.”

Like the others I spoke to, she immediately became convinced that Obama supporters were behind the outages.

“I suspect that it was Obama supporters because I think the block was timed to affect blogs prior to the unity event so that we would not ‘rain on the unity parade,’ GeekLove said. “Also, Obama has ads out hiring people with no experience, except the ability to use computers. I presume these are the individuals responsible for silencing any opposition. His campaign has really harnessed the power of the internet and in the process learned to game the system in a way that I find frightening.”

When it comes to butting heads with Obama supporters, perhaps nobody has more experience than Larry Johnson. If his name rings a bell, it’s because Johnson, who worked for the CIA in the ’80s and now does military consulting, was the origin of the famous “whitey” claim. Not long ago he reported on his website that people connected with the McCain campaign are in possession of video footage of Michelle Obama saying derogatory things about white people. However, he admitted that he hadn’t actually seen the video and his two sources hadn’t seen it either. He quickly became a target of bloggers from both the right and left.

Several of the bloggers hit by the Blogspot outage also write at his site, No Quarter, and so Johnson has been watching the controversy with interest. Like the others, he believes wholeheartedly that Obama supporters are behind the “attack,” and he told me in a phone interview that his website had experienced similar problems a few months ago.

“We were contacted by our host in March and they claimed we were draining too many resources,” he said. “They shut us down completely. But when we went in to look at our site statistics it was evident that something else was clearly going on — we were the subject of some kind of spam attack that was putting a strain on the site.”

no quarter logo

To ward off such attacks, he decided to go with his own server, a move that he said would make it harder to shut him down. But after he published the “whitey” claims, he had more direct conflicts with Obama supporters.

“The problem with these people who had their Google accounts shut down, they’re intimidated by it,” Johnson said. “They don’t want to get themselves in a situation so they would be identified. Some of these people who get identified, the Obama folks start picking up the phone and calling. I had phone calls into my office, threatening me, saying that you’re going to be fired, let me talk to your boss. I told them to go fuck themselves, because I am my own boss. It helps to be self-employed.”

Johnson and the other people interviewed for this article all agreed that Google was partly to blame for the outages. It was because of the search giant’s “guilty until proven innocent” approach, they said, that allowed the attackers to shut down the blogs so easily.

“My biggest objection is not necessarily that these people did this, but that Blogger had the policy that basically locks you out,” Snedeker said. “In other words you’re guilty until proven innocent, instead of the other way around, and that was what frustrated me.”

“I understand the need if you have some complaints from people that you need to investigate it,” Johnson said. “But you also have to make sure that the person filing the complaint is legitimate.”

An email I sent to Google requesting comment was not immediately returned. Nearly all the bloggers who were targeted by this spam crusade are not waiting around for their accounts to be restored. They’ve flocked to WordPress and opened free accounts there (including Blue Lyon and Come A Long Way), and they don’t have any immediate plans to return to their original URLs once the dust settles.

What’s perhaps even more notable is that none of the people I spoke to is planning any kind of backlash against Obama supporters. It seemed to me that, for the most part, they just want to be left alone.

“While I am expressing my political beliefs, on Blogger it was a simple push of a button to mark my blog as spam and silence me,” GeekLove said. ” Pushing the button set me back a couple of days and I was unable to post anything during the unity event. The prospect of starting over on another blog was also daunting [and] I briefly, only briefly considered [giving] up blogging. Tactics like this work to silence opposition, why wouldn’t we expect more of that in the future?”

Contact me at simon.bloggasm@gmail.com

44 Comments

  1. John Samford Says:

    Hire an attorney. Don’t sue blogger, but the people that posted the spam complaint. You have a right to face your accuser, or at least in Pre-Ohhhhh…….BAMA America you do. Use it.
    If there is a commection between your accuser and Ohhhhhhh……BAMA, then see how much of his 200 Million plus campaign chest you can get.

  2. ddd Says:

    If Blogger’s guilty-until-innocent policy is the problem, a perhaps effective response would be to click the “flag blog” button on great numbers of Blogger blogs–making the button useless. You probably couldn’t do it reliably from a single PC, since Google would be able to isolate the troublemaker, but if many different people only clicked a few, the effect would be the same. It would, of course, be unkind to the blogs affected — but they can always go to WordPress….

  3. Susan Nunes Says:

    Blogger simply needs to disable and delete the “Flag” function on the top of the blog pages. People would have to email Blogger about spam blogs instead.

    WordPress has other problems which make it undesirable to move mostly having to do with images. Besides, somebody with computer knowledge could hack those blogs as well.

    In any case, moving from Blogger just tells the perpetrators they’ve won.

  4. Sister Toldjah Says:

    Are Obama supporters having anti-Obama blogs shut down on Blogspot?

    Just another example of how far some far left Obama supporters are willing to go to shut down criticism about the Obamessiah? Bloggasm and Stop The ACLU take a look.
    I haven’t had much of a chance to dive into the controversy, but it wouldn…

  5. Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy Says:

    You’re kidding? (I hope…)

    Is Google, owner of Blogspot, shutting down anti-Obama blogs? If true … wow. (hat tip: Tigerhawk) UPDATE: More at Bloggasm. (h/t Sister Toldjah) Technorati tags: Google, blogger.com, Barack Obama

  6. Democrat=Socialist Says:

    NEWS & OPINION ROUNDUP (30 JUNE 2008) THE WESLEY CLARK SMOKED HONDURAN CRACK IN SAN FRANSICKO EDITION

    Given San Fransicko’s penchant for harboring illegal immigrants, Honduran crack dealers, must be who Wesley Clark spent the weekend with, fiendishly pressing a crack pipe to his lips.  This could be the only reason he would say such things a…

  7. Tantor Says:

    Welcome to the world of change Obama is bringing!

    No longer will you be trouble by differing views of the world. Obama will untangle all those disagreements for you by laying down a single party line everyone can follow. In this way, Obama reduces the confusion of the people.

    And really, don’t you know these kinds of attacks on free speech is how the Left works? If you put a conservative bumper sticker on your car during election season, you can expect the lefty stormtroopers to tear it off or razor blade it up. It happenned to me a couple times in different parts of the country and its happenned to other people. The Left wants a monopoly on all public forums. This kind of factional fight is akin to the Nazis attacking their rival Communist demonstrations back in the 1930s Germany.

  8. Continuum Says:

    This is the same tactic used by right wing fundamentalist christainists to shut down gay blogs. However, in that instance they were applauding Google etal. Funny how they don’t like it when the shoe is on the other foot.

  9. jay Says:

    continuum… nice try. But the complainants were by and large hillary supporters.

    So… I see your hypocrisy charge, and raise you with a charge that you are an uncritical thinker.

  10. Outside The Beltway | OTB Says:

    Google Shuts Down Anti-Obama Blogs

    Some Obama supporters are apparently taking advantage of Google’s terms of service to silence anti-Obama blogs, Simon of Bloggasm reports.  The company automatically shuts down sites upon receipt of TOS violation claims until they’re able …

  11. autoegocrat Says:

    A reasonable person would be justified in suspecting that Obama supporters are behind the attacks, but some of these people are jumping to conclusions. GeekLove already has a fully-formed conspiracy theory with Barack Obama himself at the center, based on nothing more than speculation and circumstance. It looks like Blogger isn’t the only party with a “guilty until proven innocent” policy.

    John Samford: part of the problem here is that some of these bloggers want to remain anonymous. By confronting the attackers directly, they reveal their identity. That makes it very difficult for some of these folks to fight back.

  12. Howard Hirsch Says:

    Simon–

    I am the Republican party chairman in Lyon County, Carissa’s base. I have known her for four years, and while (needless to say) I hardly agree with her on anything, I consider her a good friend and an honorable person. I also check her blog on a regular basis, enjoy her contributions, and often find some valuable local political intelligence there.

    I am sorry that she felt forced to leave the Democratic party to which she gave so much of her energy, especially under the circumstances she did.

    As pernicious as the liberal agenda is, it might be time for us on the other side to admit that its followers constitute a sizeable force, if not majority opinion in America today. That may be unfortunate (at least to me), but what is far more dangerous is that it intends to be the ONLY permissible opinion in America today. It will be interesting to see how an Obama Administration, sworn to defend the First Amendment, instead upholds some vague and unwritten “right not to be offended”.

    Howard Hirsch
    Chairman, Lyon County Republican Party
    Dayton, Nevada

  13. blanks Says:

    “Turn About’s fair play”
    Find some pro-Obama and Hillary blogs
    and “fire them all”!

  14. DiamondTiger Says:

    Good post….

    I heard about this and changed my site so that I don’t have the nav bar anymore. If they want to shut me down, they are actually gonna have to work a bit harder.

    Keep up the great work!!!

    Hele On!

    PUMA

  15. DensityDuck Says:

    This isn’t bias by Google; it’s just Google being lazy. It’s easier to just automatically lock anything that gets flagged and deal with complaints as they come in; the other option is to review each and every spam flag, and that would be just…just so Web 1.0.

  16. PorkBomb Says:

    There are people being tortured in Chinese prisons right now because Google turned them in to the Chinese government. Many people seem to forget that.

    Google is openly leftist. I have no doubt that they would aid and abet the elimination of opposition to the left’s messiah, Barack Obama. They censor and delete right-leaning videos and comments on YouTube and I’m not talking about raving racist garbage or death threats, I’m talking about people like Michelle Malkin. They do it on YouTube, why wouldn’t they do it on Blogger?

    The “web 2.0″ leftists who manipulate and steer information on the internet are the latest and most dangerous version of leftist totalitarianism. Obviously, they are not wearing uniforms and kicking down doors but Google is insidiously evil and it’s time people began facing up to that.

  17. slag Says:

    There are two different issues going on here:
    1. blogging freedom
    2. Hillary dead-enders engaging in continual martyrdom

    As for #1, it sucks that their blogs were shut down and it certainly isn’t defensible. As for #2, it sucks that the dead-enders don’t know how much martyrdom is too much.

    Strangely, I both dislike and pity the PUMAs and yet will defend their right to blog. This must be America or something.

  18. Miss Malevolent Says:

    Your name Slag is very fitting.

  19. Falling Awake Says:

    The same thing has happened at several blogs I know on WordPress. WordPress’s parent company, Automattic, is owned by a strong Obama supporter. The blogs that I know of that have been temporarily stopped have all been critical of Obama.

  20. Ellen K Says:

    I am not a Democrat. I am not a liberal. But I do passionately believe in free speech. And by my definition, that means that even when people disagree with me, they are legally given that right by our Constitution. Sadly, there are people who believe that manipulating campaigns and playing silly games are synonymous with political finesse. What worries me the most is that if these game players win the White House, at what point will they realize that life is not a game? I read the commentary, I find it appalling that an organized effort was used to shut down opposition. I also find it just a little bit scary that the Obama campaign and its subsidiaries think of this as normal behavior. When you look at the news, very little critical attenation is given to Mr. Obama’s views. And if you dare to oppose his views, you are labeled as either racist, a neo-con or backward. At some point someone is going to have to be brave enough to ask some hard questions of this man. I think a reading of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is in order for the media in general. One final question, if indeed this was an organized effort to shut down opposition, doesn’t that make you question what type of candidate would sanction that type of behavior by subordinates? Just wondering.

  21. Hillary or Bust Says:

    Thank you for covering this. My blog was one of the blogs that was locked down by Blogger on June 26. I have since moved it to my own domain name and my own installation of WordPress. At this point, I suppose my hosting company could try to shut it down, but I think they like taking my money. :-)

    An unintended side effect of this juvenile attempt at censorship has been that my blog has actually gotten more exposure thanks to them. This story has now traveled throughout the blogosphere and is being covered by left and right wing blogs. So the final verdict is that their plan to shut us up completely and totally backfired.

    That said, I am concerned that certain radical progressives are getting out of control (and I always considered myself a progressive). For more on this, please read:

    http://hillaryorbust.com/2008/06/please-save-this-country-from-progressives/

  22. fred heidrick Says:

    in the last 2 DOONSBURY cartoons iv seen the story line of a female alex? siting at a computer defending pro obama sites.with retaliation. sound fremiliure?

    6-27-08 6-26-08

    michal,,,you still up?

    alex,,,,im on night duty,,,we [the obama hit squad]> computer noise

    michal,,,,how likely is…..

    computer “OBAMA BACK ON DRUGS”

    alex,,,,,show time
    _____________________-

    the point of the cartoon is that the obama bots ….are on the inernet all night defending there sites, and posibly atacking othere sites.INTERNET WARIERS
    ________________-

    360 seem to be safer for opinions

  23. fred heidrick Says:

    some got cut out

    “we have to have a rapid responce in case some scumbag bloger desides to get buisey at 4:00am”

    this got cut out

  24. Leaning Straight Up Says:

    Are blogs the criticize Obama being shut down deliberately? Yes.

    Yes indeed, it is clearly happening, that fact is not being disputed.  The only real question is “by who”.  This, by the way I regard as a serious issue.  I left Blogger 3 years ago to give my blog more creative control and securi…

  25. BJ Says:

    CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN! BARF!

    These obama thugs and their tactics, and the media, and obama, they keep my blood pressure up too high and my anger and anxiety on alert daily.

    My blog was down around the 21st and up on the 23rd.. I’m not moving to wordpress.. I hate wordpress! but then again I’m not happen with Blogger because features of my blog are broken and i can’t find any way to contact someone to ask if they are working on fixing these features- i know others have these problems as they’ve posted in the USELESS blogger forums to no avail-

    I’ve blogged on blogger a long time, long before these new protest sites started popping up. It’s ridiculous mine went down considering how long i’ve been on there.. They need to fix it so it’s not blocked until AFTER they review it.

    It shouldn’t be so easy for obamabots to run over the opposition using internet tactics to shut us up.

  26. Juanita Says:

    I say the sites should be shut down. If it anything I have experience on a daily basis from Hillary and John’s support: racism and hate. They should be shut down! I have seen the n-word associated with Barack or the Obamas so many times. I think one of Obama-haters will seriously try to harm or killed him. They are taking it to a different level than having a simple debate. Hillary Clinton lost and her supporters should accept this and move forward and cast their vote for racist John McCain. all this hostility toward Obama tinged with racism and xenophobia needs to end. Same with Fix News. They are not legit news. They show anti-liberal, anti-black, anti-minorities, hate and racism all day. Garbage in and garbage out or should I say racism in and racism out.

  27. Jaz Says:

    Hate, racism and talks of doing Barack and his wife physical harm should not be permitted on any site. Most of John and Hillary supporters are likely to be racist. They do not approve of interracial marriages or dating. They feel equal rights for minorities have gone too far. They say their not racist but in the same breath will type racial slurs and use the n-word towards the Obamas. The white men have an fixation of Obama’s private parts. They act like they are two years old instead of adults Their candidate didn’t win so they are voting for McCain out of revenge. McCain is the totally opposite of what Obama and Clinton stands for. They are scare that their white supremacy is going to be taken away. I feel sorry for the poor whites who are voting out of their prejudice for McCain. They will suffer four more years of hardship and poverty. Do whites who support McCain know that he said the families “middle class” who are going through foreclosures to get a second job? He will cut health care for poor children without health care and medicaid for seniors. McCain care about the rich not the middle or low class.

  28. Smarty Says:

    LIberals, the true champions of free speech. I just hope that some of the idiot Clinton supporters now recognize that the minions of Clinton do the same crap to republicans that Obama supporters are doing to them. I suspect most know that already, and think it is unfair to use the tactic on THEM.

  29. Smarty Says:

    Jaz is evidence that there should be an IQ test to vote. If you support Hillary or John you are probably racist? How about if you are a black and you support the party of slavery and the KKK and of welfare handouts, then you are a fool.For the Democratic leadership, they just can’t believe that the token house boy actually beat Hillary, that is off the script.

  30. Sevesteen Says:

    Not long after I started my Blogspot blog, it was flagged as a possible spam blog. Early posts were mostly pro-gun related, and I’m nowhere near an Obama supporter. I’ll bet there are just as many conservative and libertarian blogs targeted, just less uproar about it.

  31. Hillary or Bust Says:

    “I say the sites should be shut down. If it anything I have experience on a daily basis from Hillary and John’s support: racism and hate. They should be shut down! I have seen the n-word associated with Barack or the Obamas so many times.”

    You can go search through my blog. I have not once used the “n-word” in relation to Obama and my issue with him is not race whatsoever. So…are you suggesting that just because a man is half-black I should have to like him? That’s racism in the reverse. I could care less what color Obama is, other than people like you seem to think that should excuse him for everything.

    “Hate, racism and talks of doing Barack and his wife physical harm should not be permitted on any site.”

    Go look around my website and see if you can find anything racist there…unless you include Father Plfeger’s video calling upon reparations from whites racist (which I linked to), you won’t find it.

  32. carissa Says:

    Juanita, ditto what Hillary or Bust said. Check out my blog before you start accusing me of racism. My objections to Barack have absolutely nothing to do with the color of his skin but the content of his character (and his flimsly resume).

    Jaz-Most of John and Hillary supporters are likely to be racist. They do not approve of interracial marriages or dating. That would be news to my daughter and son-in-law. LOL!

  33. Juanita Says:

    FYI,

    You guys are so sensitive and hostile. If you re-read what I post I didn’t accuse nobody. I said what I have experience. I just happen to come to this site to found out why the anti-Obama blogs were shut down. Don’t be so hostile and defensives. Calm the f–k down.

    Jaz-Most of John and Hillary supporters are likely to be racist. They do not approve of interracial marriages or dating. That would be news to my daughter and son-in-law. LOL!

    Yes, this has some how been poll. Please don’t pick and choose stuff out of my post. I just wanted to post my two cents not to be scrutinized.

    Yes. I do know some biracial, mixed or black people who are very hurt that their white parent or grandparents will not vote for Obama but will vote for IMO racist John McCain.

    Carissa, are you voting for Obama?

  34. Juanita Says:

    Smarty said,
    July 1, 2008 @ 10:52 am
    Jaz is evidence that there should be an IQ test to vote. If you support Hillary or John you are probably racist? How about if you are a black and you support the party of slavery and the KKK and of welfare handouts, then you are a fool.For the Democratic leadership, they just can’t believe that the token house boy actually beat Hillary, that is off the script.
    ********************************************

    THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT ?

    Subtle, blatant, overt racism? There no need for that to make your point nor to question someone IQ. I guess you have forgotten that there are more whites on welfare than any ethic group? So what’s you point? Bad things do happen to good people who are just trying to make it.

    Senator Obama is not a token or a boy. He’s an grown asz man. If you don’t know by now, it is offensive to call a grown black man boy. If you don’t like Senator Obama, simply don’t vote for him. I don’t understand the hate, racism, fear tactics and anonymous emails to discredit him. My ancestors went through hell to vote. I am going use my right as an American citizen to vote.

  35. Saskboy Says:

    Blogger is terrible at enforcing their Terms of Service. I’ve notified them of a series of blogs set up for harassment purposes (which is contrary to their TOS in multiple ways that I listed for them) and they just unflagged the blog, and cited “free speech”.

  36. David Esrati Says:

    What a blogger account amounts to is “digital sharecropping”- there is only one way to own and protect your content- pay for a site and host it yourself using some open source CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla etc.
    Anything else is just waiting for the man to stiff you.

  37. Silence Dogood Says:

    That sounds like something the left would be up to. Liberals always speak of open midedness, however I have found them to be some of the mroe closed minded people out there. I also have a blog that tends to be moderate, but still pretty anti obama http://road2serfdom.blogspot.com/

  38. Bloggasm » All aboard the Hyperbole Express Says:

    [...] I published my article about the Anti-Obama blog outages last night the story has exploded across the blogosphere. I [...]

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  40. Lee Says:

    Whenever I post an pro McCain blog on CNN’s ‘Ask Jack Cafferty’ blog, not only do they moderate my blog and reject publishing it … I immediately get 300 to 600 pieces of spam in my mail box.

  41. thebronze Says:

    Larry Johnson is a fricking retard.

  42. CaffineQueen Says:

    I have not been locked out of my bog as of yet however I have been spammed to the hilt and attacked by people who claim I must be racist or republican because I do not support the chosen one.

    Of course the reasons that i givemust be just a front according to them. I couldn’treally disagree with him politicly or moraly or think he’s an inexperienced idiot right? I mean the obvious could not possibly be true. These people making charges of racisim are in fact setting the cause of racial equality back with their BS.

    They are making light of incidents of REAL RACISIM by claiming falsely that anyone who does not support the Golden Idiot must be by definition racist. It’s total BS.

    As for free speech they only believe that THEY have that right. The rest of us according to them should be silenced. Yeah THAT’S FREE SPEECH ALL RIGHT! WTF is wrong with these people?

    Before you call me racisr or republican you should actually READ THE POSTS ON MY BLOGS! Instead they often post messages that simply scream I didn’t really read this but you disagree with me so you must have said…

    CQ

  43. CaffineQueen Says:

    I’ve been thinking that these attacks are probably coming from inner city black gangs who want Obama to win at all costs.

    These gangs and thugs are used to harrassing defenseless women and this is their way to rape us as they did Hillary Clinton.

    If you tune into BET you will understand how Obama’s supporters look at Women and get angry because we don’t just shut up and take it.

    I’m fortunate to live in the Tri-cities area of Washington where the community is less diverse and we don’t have ethnic gangs or criminals that hang out on our streets.

    If any of Obama’s gang members from Tacoma or Seattle show up at my door, they should know that we know how to carry and use Guns here!

  44. Of Human and Non-Human Animals Says:

    The same thing happened to me today, and my blog is certainly not something that you can define “anti-Obama”.

    It is a blog on animal ethics; its tag line is “Why giving animals a fair deal is good for humans too”.

    I just published a post on both American presidential candidates stands on animal issues and commented on the lack, on the part of both, of a clear position on the most important areas of animal abuse, i.e. animal experimentation and farming.

    I received an e-mail from Google, saying that I had to request a review of my blog. When I clicked on the link provided in the e-mail, there was no form to request the review. I published a post, which all went smooth, so I hope that Blogger had already unlocked my blog.


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