Photo courtesy of the Internet.
As a blogger, a tool that helps you monetize your site is to post ads via Google AdSense. For the technically challenged, here’s how it works: when you sign up for this program, Google places ads on your blog that use key words that are similar to your posts. Every time someone clicks on a Google Ad, you start accruing money, which typically equates to a few pennies or less per click. Before any of this takes place, you must first agree to the Terms of Service on Google AdSense. This is a standard procedure on most websites on the net to keep you in check from having free reign on the Internet and most of all, the service provider covers their ass in case a 3rd party makes a complaint.
Does anyone ever stop to read the fine print? Not usually. These types of agreements have become standard in the lawsuit age we live in. You pretty much have no choice but to agree to the terms or you cannot use the service you requested gaining access to. Typically this is not a problem, but something was recently brought to my attention and it appears that Google AdSense is not much different than an Internet bully.
The blog Worley Gig received in essence an “it’s our way or the highway” automated email from Google in regards to the following post (now disabled for reasons which will become clear below). The Worley Gig covers art, music and pop culture as seen through the eyes of blogger Gail Worley. The site has been around for almost ten years and though it has an international following, the majority of income to the site is reliant upon Google AdSense. Not to give blogging trade secrets away, but while making money from Google AdSense is a nice bonus, it’s far from the point where a blogger can survive on the money that comes in. Of course, blogging for the love of putting the information out there is the reason that Worley Gig (as well as my own site and many others) exist, but it’s nice to receive a little something (which equates to way less than minimum wage) for the countless hours bloggers spend writing.
Back to the blog post in question. Worley Gig covered an art exhibit in 2012 (also covered here on According2g) of artist Andre Saraiva. In the exhibit, Andreopolis, Saraiva has two sculptures: one of Mickey Mouse with a giant erection and one of a mock coin operated pink penis ride (a la a coin operated horse ride). There is nothing overtly scandalous about these works of art, but Google AdSense thinks otherwise.
The Worley Gig received an email from Google AdSense with the subject line “You have 3 working days to make changes to your site.” Yikes! The email went on to say that she violated the Terms of Service by posting photos of adult sexual aids and fetishes and adult/profanity. (See below paragraphs for their definitions of these infractions):
ADULT/SEXUAL AIDS and FETISHES: As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on pages with adult or mature content. This includes any content that is sexual in intent or may not be considered family-safe, such as sexual aids, devices and fetishes. More information about this policy can be found in our help center.
ADULT/PROFANITY: As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on pages with adult or mature content, including extreme profanity. More information about this policy can be found in our help center.
Google offered no opportunity to refute these allegations or to defend the post with the easily supported argument that the phallus kiddie ride is a work of art and not pornography or an adult fetish object. Instead, the email warning included a handy tutorial on how to resolve the issue(s):
How to resolve:
If you received a notification in regard to page content, please either remove the content from your site or remove ads from the violating pages. If you received a notification in regards to the way ads are implemented on your site, please make the necessary changes to your implementation. We will automatically review the site again after 72 hours. You do not need to contact us if you make changes. Please be aware that if changes are not made within the required time frame, ad serving will be disabled to the affected website listed above.
Additionally, please be aware that the URL above is just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites that you own. To reduce the likelihood of future warnings from us, we suggest that you review all your sites for compliance.
If this fine print was too much to read, I will summarize: Google AdSense basically threatened Worley Gig by saying “comply or forfeit your participation in the adsense program.” Google gave Worley Gig 72 hours to comply with the warning that her site would be reviewed again to make sure all infractions were fixed, otherwise she would be dropped from Google AdSense! Obviously not wanting to compromise her standing with AdSense, Gail removed the popular post immeditately.
If this post had in fact contained offensive pornography or adult sex aids, one can see how the post would have been in violation of Adsenses’ terms of service. But Google only had to skim a few posts of Worley Gig‘s typical subject matter to understand that this was a humorous post about a piece of art. Not even being given the opportunity to petition Google to leave it up under such grounds is an undeniable strong art tactic that reeks of censorship and yes, bullying.
Have you experienced something similar? Tell us your stories! It’s US versus THEM after-all….