Google has been intensely focused on quality control over the Google+ social network. Upon launching, Google+’s policies stated that people must use real names rather than pseudonyms. On top of that, they insist that people do not include “mature or offensive content” including the middle finger as MG Siegler learned the hard way. Without telling Siegler, his photo was removed so he replaced it with the one above. Below is what Siegler had to say about his photo being removed.
Bigger picture: this seems like a ridiculous thing for Google to be policing. At first, they were all about ensuring that everyone was using their real name on Google+. After a shit storm about why that was stupid, they backed off. They should back off here as well because, honestly, who gives a shit? If my profile picture offends people, let them un-Circle me or whatever.
This also seems like a slippery slope. In certain cultures, various hand gestures mean different things. Is Google also going to delete my profile picture if I have my fingers up to my chin, for example?