Since 2002, the American writer Dennis Cooper has been keeping a blog that deals with the kind of subject matter that one would expect from the author of such controversial and influential books as Frisk and Closer. So it was somewhat of a shock when, on June 27, Google—the owner of Blogger, the website where Cooper’s blog is hosted—deleted the website along with Cooper’s email, potentially erasing over 14 years of work and one unreleased animated GIF novel.
“I immediately started filing reports and they never responded and it’s just been this kind of ridiculous thing ever since,” Cooper told me over the phone today from France. Cooper posted about the incident on Facebook, and from there friends attempted to contact official reps at Google. “I worked with one person there on the phone and nothing worked,” Cooper said. “[Google] launched internal investigations that never came to anything, and I got a lawyer here to talk to their lawyer, and the lawyer wouldn’t do anything about it,” he continued. “I’ve just been totally stonewalled and I have no idea why they did it, and they won’t tell me anything.” He spoke to the potential of filing a lawsuit, perhaps “just to get an answer from them, about what happened. It’s been really, really strange, I have to say.”
I asked Cooper—who has been posting a consistent stream of mature content on his blog for well over a decade—if he had any theories as to why Google took down the site down now. “It could be anything,” he said. “There was nothing that happened right before the blog and my email were deleted that was anything different than what I’ve been doing on my blog for years.” The author told me that some on the Internet have suggested the deletion had something to do with his twice-monthly posts in which the author edits found profiles from online male escort websites. Even that, though, seems far-fetched.
“I have an adult warning thing, and [the posts are] certainly a million times less outrageous than tons of other blogs on Blogger,” he said. “I mean, that could be it, that doesn’t make a huge amount of sense to me and I don’t know why they would’ve disabled my email account for that. So I literally don’t know. People say maybe it was hacked, people say maybe they accidentally deleted your blog and now they’re embarrassed to tell you, I don’t know,” he said. “The timing doesn’t make any sense at all, it seems very random.”
For the past few years, Cooper has been making novels out of animated GIFs, primarily crafted using his blog. He has spent the past seven months on a new one, a work that might be lost forever if his blog isn’t recovered. “It was just sitting there, finished and ready to be transferred over” to start the publishing process, he said. “I’m very concerned that somehow I won’t be able to get it back, so yeah, that’s a big, big problem for me.”
Various Internet archival methods have not provided solutions. Many cached pages are blocked, or only show the blog’s warning page. Parts saved on websites like archive.org are faulty and missing images.
The social media–fueled traction of the story provides one potential lane towards answers. “It’s possible that because this is happening, Google will see that there is some kind of viral presence for this kind of thing, and that they will address it finally,” Cooper said. “I don’t have any stakes in that because they have literally just been completely irresponsive.”
Short of that, legal action seems like the only recourse for Cooper. “I need to find out, do I have the right to get my stuff back, and if so then I guess I would either threaten a lawsuit or just go ahead and file a lawsuit,” he continued. “I really don’t think I have any other options unless some kind of miracle happens.”
“It’s just so strange to me that they haven’t even given me a reason,” he stated later.