Google's Ridiculous AdSense Morality Police Strike Again

from the fix-this,-google dept

Nearly a year ago, we wrote about an absolutely ridiculous situation in which Google AdSense threatened to cut off all of our ads (which they had just spent months begging us to use) because the ads showed up on this page, which has a story about a publicity rights dispute concerning a music video that includes someone dancing suggestively around a pole. The morality police at AdSense argued that this news story — which was about a legal dispute concerning the video — somehow violated AdSense’s terms against putting the ads on content including “strategically covered nudity” and “lewd or provocative poses.” Apparently, the AdSense team has no “newsworthy” exception to these idiotic policies.

After that story was posted, we heard from people inside Google who insisted that they were pushing the AdSense team to deal with similar situations in a much smarter way: such as simply turning off the ads on those individual pages rather than killing entire accounts. But, frankly, even that is pretty pointless. Why not fix AdSense’s terms so that having ads appear on a news story about such content doesn’t trigger the threat to shut down AdSense altogether?

It appears that the AdSense morality police still haven’t figured this out. Last week a similar kerfuffle arose when the AdSense team threatened because it had an article (from a while back) that posted the infamous photos of US soldiers mistreating prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Those photos are famous for their newsworthiness, and yet Google AdSense said they were a terms of service violation for being “violent or disturbing content, including sites with gory text or images.”

After that story started to get some press attention, Google backed down… but only for a few hours, before coming back and complaining about another article on Antiwar’s site, showing images of people killed in Ukraine.

As with the threat to kill our own AdSense account, this is simply idiotic. Yes, Google can set whatever terms and conditions it wants for sites to use AdSense, but acting as morality police — especially over newsworthy content on news websites — is profoundly stupid and shortsighted. We had hoped that our experience with a similarly ridiculous policy decision by Google last year would convince the company to fix its policies. Unfortunately, it appears that Google is still playing morality police and trying to dictate editorial choices.

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Companies: antiwar, google

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Comments on “Google's Ridiculous AdSense Morality Police Strike Again”

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Violynne (profile) says:

What does anyone expect from a company whose motto is “Don’t Be Evil”?

Seriously, the Google bandwagon needs to bust a wheel, overturn, burst into flames, and destroy itself before it gets way, way out of hand.

Little do you people know this “ToS” escapade is seriously destroying what made Google useful. Even their own damn search engine can’t be trusted anymore, thanks to “paid priority” listings.

Screw Google. I hope this type of news gets more people away from this company that can’t even follow its own damn motto.

Yes, I hate this company. More than I do Sony.

John Cressman (profile) says:

Just wait...

Just wait until they start ranking sites by “truthfulness”… where they are the grand arbitrators of “truth”…

Oh wait… this site believes global warming is false and has evidence to back it up… too bad, Google truthfulness scale puts them at position 100000.

Regardless of how I feel on Global Warming, I would rather see both sides of the argument and decide myself than have someone force feed me their propaganda.

You’ll never easily get two sides of an argument. One will rank high… the one GOOGLE deems true… and all others will rank way back in the search engines.

If that happens, I will NOT be using Google. After about 6, I stopped needing someone to wipe my nose and my arse… thank you very much.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Just wait...

“You’ll never easily get two sides of an argument.”

The demand that news outlets cover “both sides” of arguments is problematic for two reasons. In the first case, there are issues where there’s only one reasonable side, but the need to present “both” sides is so extreme that an unreasonable side is presented as if it were equally credible. In the second place, very few issues only have two sides, so the demand to present “both” sides means that other equally credible arguments are ignored.

It’s too much to ask any single entity to present all sides of all issues they discuss. A better solution is for people to get their news and information from a wide variety of sources that have divergent viewpoints.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Just wait...

No, YOU have decided that something like (such as everyone’s favorite whipping boy) Creationism is completely false. You have most likely done so by never once looking at their evidence and arguments, just because the groupthink says so.

There have been many cases in science where the entire world was wrong and there will be many more, especially given the politics that passes as science these days (see Ben Stein’s Expelled, for instance).

There are many very strong challenges to evolution’s “facts” that nobody pays attention to. It doesn’t make them less true or lead us to the truth faster by investigating them.

But you would rather the world decide for you so you don’t have to be bothered by them. GP and I would rather see for ourselves than be told by the masses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Just wait...

No, YOU have decided that something like (such as everyone’s favorite whipping boy) Creationism is completely false.

Of course it is. Everyone knows the world became out of the flesh of a slain giant.

Oh man, i thought it was turtles and elephants all the way down.

I would love to know if he’s a old earth creationist or young earth creationist.

Or more like Jesus riding on a t-rex with machine guns.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Just wait...

“YOU have decided that something like (such as everyone’s favorite whipping boy) Creationism is completely false.”

I have? Note that nowhere in my comment have I said anything remotely approaching that. In fact, I said nothing about any issue aside from the problems with the whole notion that there are “always two sides to an issue”. As I said, usually there are many more than two sides.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’ve known sites before using adsense to have them shut down all ads because someone got teed at the site. Somehow, Google believes click fraud is the site’s issue and not someone wanting to cause harm. I used to go there and I know the site never, ever, suggested doing such at any time.

Adsense leaves a lot to be desired. I refuse to allow it to show me ads, as I have had many times over the years that others got malware, I did not, simply because I had it blocked. Again, ads are a source of malware when you least expect it. If they can’t keep their house clean, or send someone to fix the issue that comes from them, I have a cure so it’s not my hours being spent doing clean of their mess in my computer.

Jaswinder Singh says:


There is no need to make any change in their terms and conditions. Violations are violations that doesn’t matter, if they are news. As a publisher, you accepted those terms and conditions then why you post some content or image which is against their policies? After violating policy, Later you start disputing like you are innocent. You guyz are not kids. As per their terms and condition whatever they have done is correct or right. Accept this and move on.
Thank You.

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