Envelope-pushing novelist Dennis Cooper, known in the past couple of decades both for his sexually explicit fiction involving teenagers as well as genre-bending work like his 2005 book God Jr. that centered on a video game, has for several years been using the internet to write a novel constructed out of animated GIFs. Cooper was using his blog, which has been live on Google's Blogger platform since 2002, to write the novel, and says he hadn't saved or backed it up anywhere else, and now it's potentially gone forever after Google mysteriously disappeared his entire blog into the ether.
The Guardian picked up the story, framing it as one of censorship, because he received a "violation of terms and services" statement when the blog was summarily shut down and deleted. (Cooper had indicated that it contained adult content, and there was an age verification screen.) The problem is, because platforms like Facebook or Blogger are private companies, they have free reign to control and censor content as they see fit.
"In America you have first amendment rights but that only protects you against public censorship," Pati Hertling, an art lawyer, tells the Guardian. "Because it’s Google, they’re a private corporation, it’s a private realm, they can do whatever they want."
Artforum picked up the story as well, noting that "Cooper is [still] not certain whether Google merely disabled the blog or completely erased it," and in the latter case it would mean the loss of 14 years worth of writing and blogging. Google's legal department hasn't responded to him.
Cooper, who lives in Paris, previously published an HTML-based GIF novel in 2015 called Zac’s Haunted House, and this second GIF novel, which was stored entirely on the blog, was set to be published this fall. He has clearly gone to the press in the hopes that Google will relent and give him back access to his work. "Of all the things about this that concern and worry me, losing that novel is my greatest fear," he tells Artforum.
You can still find pieces of Cooper's blog via the Wayback machine, but it's apparently been removed from Google's cache as well.