Google Kills My Ad Account. Says I’m Peddling Porn

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I received the following email from Google AdSense yesterday.

While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying
Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For
instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as
http://www.theagitator.com/2002/04/30/-meet-my-alter-ego-now/. Please note
that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on
other pages of your website.

As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to
place Google ads on pages with adult or mature content. This includes
displaying ads on pages that provide links for or drive traffic to adult
or mature sites.

As a result, we have disabled ad serving to the site.

It’s an old post — the graphic doesn’t even work anymore. It was an illustration from a “create your own superhero” site. There was nothing “adult” about it all, and even if it did, the image no longer appears.

Google sent me a similar email several days ago warning me to take down the offensive content, or they’d suspend my account. I first thought they were referring to some comment spam to the post linking to adult sites. So I deleted the comments.

But that apparently wasn’t the problem, because they’ve now suspended my account anyway. I’ve sent Google AdSense two emails, but haven’t heard back.

I guess they could now be referring to other old posts with comment spam porn, even though they still include a link to the now spam-free post. If so, that’s going to be a problem. There are likely thousands of old posts that got hit with spam before I switched to a platform with better spam-blocking properties a couple of years ago. If that’s the reason Google suspended my account, it seems sort of unreasonable of them.

I guess it would be a nice start if they’d merely answer my email queries, and explain the specific content that violates their policy.

Frustrating.

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63 Responses to “Google Kills My Ad Account. Says I’m Peddling Porn”

  1. #1 |  Jim Collins | 

    We don’t have to tell you. We’re Google.

  2. #2 |  seeker6079 | 

    Hey, no worries, right? You can always go to their competition.

  3. #3 |  Fluffy | 

    Google allows people to report sites that they claim are violating the TOS.

    I can guarantee you that Google just automatically blocks those sites and doesn’t check them to see if the complaints are valid.

    https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/request.py?contact=violation_report

    So almost certainly you’re wasting your time by trying to figure out what it is about the page that violates Google’s TOS. Because it’s probably not about that page, in reality. The reality is that some asshole cops probably decided to abuse the Google report page.

    To kill some downtime this week I think I am going to go around to pro-cop blogs and if any of them use AdWords I’m going to report them all using the Google tool. Why? Because I am an asshole.

  4. #4 |  Adam W. | 

    And yet they allow crap like Kevin Trudeau, phony natural supplements, and all kinds of bullshit.

  5. #5 |  Judi | 

    That is so lame! LOL

  6. #6 |  Michael Paladin | 

    Good luck getting Google to respond, let alone be reasonable. Speaking from personal experience, any mention of sex, even as advice or health tips on a website, is verboten according to Google. (As soon as you type in a search term remotely related to sex, they quit offering suggestions.) My account isn’t suspended, but they quit serving ads to my health and fitness blog.

    The whole thing is ridiculous because filters could easily solve the problem, if there is one, of advertisers appearing on inappropriate sites. I think the real problem is Google’s prudishness. Their China business must be really lucrative.

  7. #7 |  B | 

    I wouldn’t presume to know if cops were involved, but otherwise I’d bet some serious cash that someone with an ax to grind “reported” you.

    Keep talking about this and maybe you (and people linking to you) will get the Googleplex’s attention.

  8. #8 |  Marty | 

    can someone provide links to the good stuff? all I’m finding are out of control swat teams, dog killers, corrupt politicians, and intrusive nannies… I’d like to find the out of control sorority girls…

  9. #9 |  rob sama | 

    I tend to agree with Fluffy. I suspect you’ve been reported by people who don’t like you, whether they be cop lovers of leftist types. It will take weeks for Google to get a live human to investigate and re-instate your account.

  10. #10 |  Nando | 

    I suggest using Twitter to voice your concerns. I’ve known three people who have voiced their concerns with several companies over Twitter and have had their issues resolved quite promptly (within a day). Two of these were with Maytag appliances (they were both contacted within hours of their tweets saying how bad their customer service was) and one was with Comcast (of all companies!).

    If this doesn’t work, I suggest an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb). This is when, after exhausting all customer service options, you just email every executive in the company and explain your problem. Here is a good link explaining it: http://consumerist.com/259713/

    I used an EECB after problems with Comcast. I spent three days dealing with CS reps and they all told me the same thing: there is nothing we can do. So, I emailed the CEO and CC’d about 30 other executives. I had a call from Comcast within 30 minutes telling me that my problem had been resolved.

  11. #11 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I guess it would be a nice start if they’d merely answer my email queries, and explain the specific content that violates their policy.

    Google is just one of a gazillion other companies have learned that individual customers don’t matter. If you aren’t important enough to show up as a glitch in their sales numbers, then all interaction between you and them will be handled by someone with a single digit IQ.

    But, rest assured, “your business is very important to them and all inquiries will be handled in the order they are received”.

  12. #12 |  Jeremy | 

    I’d think you’re at a point where you might be able to ditch Google ads and get some real advertisers who’ll pay you directly? It’s a little more work but you get enough traffic that it should be worthwhile. Or maybe I’m on crack.

  13. #13 |  John Inderdohnen | 

    Nando is right. Squeaky wheel gets the grease. Also, you could call sales and explain how you would like to advertise, but there is this one little issue…

  14. #14 |  Marty | 

    good stuff Nando!

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #10 | Nando

    If this doesn’t work, I suggest an EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb).

    I’ve done this and found it to be incredibly effective or totally ignored (probably because some companies have found a way to screen these messages out of executive email accounts). If properly worded, a corporate executive will call you within a day or so with an apologetic tone that sounds as if they ran over your children and want to know what it will take to make things right. I’ve had exceptional success with Starwood Hotels, Publix, Nikon, and my local city councilwoman.

    The big problem is doing the research to get the email addresses and taking the time to compose a message that makes them feel like the antichrist.

  16. #16 |  PJ Doland | 

    It might be related to the Sekimori link in the left column. You get a security warning when you try to visit that site, and they may think you’re somehow involved with distributing malware.

  17. #17 |  Tom G | 

    Radley, you are not the only one. Another blogger I read often, whose name escapes me, recently reported the SAME issue with Google. If I can dig up his post about it, I’ll email you.

    Tom G.

  18. #18 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    With the newly proposed ObamaAds getting a lot of support in Congress, we can finally end the Google monopoly. Ad revenue is a right…afterall, when Al Gore invented intertubes he knew it would be government’s great gift to the people.

    Or, we just need a Google Czar…with a taser.

    EECBs work. Consumerist.com can also add some mass to the effort (ToysRus EECB story headlining right now).

  19. #19 |  Ginger Dan | 

    It’s time for Agitatorians to band together. I don’t know how many of you have signed up for the $12/$6 subscription, but perhaps if enough of us get on board we can offset Radley’s loss from Google. (I say that without having the slightest clue how much the Google ads bring in for Radley every month).

  20. #20 |  Cynical In CA | 

    Google sounds like a government bureaucracy.

  21. #21 |  Mag | 

    The mighty Google hath spoken. All hail the Google! ;)~

  22. #22 |  Tim C | 

    #19, true, Radley how much do you take in? I’d think it’s enough to justify but not like you’re getting rich or anything.

    And I fully agree with those above (several) saying it’s censorship really – Google News is notoriously leftist; hell, they only got around to honoring Memorial Day with a special logo (after years of claiming they didn’t find such day a celebratory day, or some such, despite having special holiday logos for OTHER countries’ similar days). The company was started by a couple of Russians, and while there are enough exceptions not to make this a hard rule, many Russians never really fully renounce their Motherland’s teaching and indoctrination. I think Google’s track record speaks for itself in this regard.

  23. #23 |  Highway | 

    I was wondering if it was related to the picture you replaced yours with when that goofball from Illinois? was giving you a hard time, and directly taking your picture off the site. That might break their ToS… ;)

  24. #24 |  James D | 

    Considering Google’s well known political biases, you have to wonder if they realized you might actually not like the Obamessiah and are taking it out against you. Wouldn’t be the first case of Google making choices based on a political agenda.

  25. #25 |  Chuchundra | 

    http://www.rosswalker.co.uk/adsense_top10/

  26. #26 |  t. reed | 

    Radley,
    Look out your window. Do you see any black helicopters?

  27. #27 |  Ben | 

    You have ads on your site, Radley?

    Firefox + AdBlock Plus = no ads ever.

  28. #28 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Google allows people to report sites that they claim are violating the TOS.

    Why not report google itself as I’m sure most people who are looking for porn use google.

  29. #29 |  Chris in AL | 

    Seems an odd stance for Google to take since they are the ones that help most people find porn.

    Considering what you find with a GIS (with safe-search turned off), they hardly have any ground to stand on morality wise.

  30. #30 |  Packratt | 

    Could be worse Radley, Google recently dropped my site to spam status or something, 0 search hits a day on my site now and my traffic has been cut to 1/2-1/3 of what it used to be.

    Sure, Yahoo and Bing still like the site, but for some reason Google hates it. I wonder if they hired an ex-cop recently?

  31. #31 |  HaciendaMike | 

    I seem to recall a few months back that you did a quick note on a site called fleshbot or sleazebot or something like that, which linked to the site. Perhaps that is the offending post from which this problem sprung.

  32. #32 |  Ben | 

    Didn’t they take down that blog Girl in short shorts? She was sorta libertarian, but they didn’t like the name

  33. #33 |  omar | 

    Google’s leftist political bias? By only indexing lefty sites for the news? That “bias” is “by the numbers”. Google finds a number of sites making “news”, then checks to see who many people are linking to particular stories. Y’all are bitching about the political bias of a computer. Some dickweed almost certainly reported The Agitator to Google’s auto-ban service as innapropriate. That’s a problem, but it’s not bias. Some libertarian dickweed could do the same to some badge-lickers and it would be no less lame.

    And Russians and their uncontrollable urge to..uh…do what was it the Russians who run Google are doing to keep the libertarian voice down?

    many Russians never really fully renounce their Motherland’s teaching and indoctrination.

    This may be the dumbest thing I’ve read here since Warren declared his anti-vote for the Cali Gay-Marriage amendment to punish the gehs for being generally left of center.

    Hey, don’t use Google, 5 rubles out of every dollar Google makes is funneled into the leftist Bolshy cabal!

    And we wonder why most people don’t take libertarians as seriously as we deserve. I am so tired of defending libertarianism to my leftist friends who can so easily use the evil-lefty-google to find and point to this kind of idiot talk and make us all look crazy.

  34. #34 |  Packratt | 

    Omar,
    You’re probably right, I think it’s just someone taking advantage of the way Google automates it’s reaction to TOS complaints.

    After I noticed my site dropped off the Google search results I filed a request for reconsideration last week and, even though my site still wasn’t listing in search results over the weekend, I just checked today and it’s PR appears to be back to normal, which was a way faster reaction than I expected.

    Hopefully they’ll do the same for Radley and his AdSense issue.

  35. #35 |  SJE | 

    You know, if you WERE actually peddling porn, you probably would not be rattling the tip jar.

  36. #36 |  Tokin42 | 

    What fluffy said….

    /That just has a nice ring to it….

  37. #37 |  Big Chief | 

    Radley – it’s porno pervs like you that keep the internets out of China. It’s a series of tubes, ya know.

  38. #38 |  JB | 

    Hopefully this blog post will get passed along and expedite the AdSense team’s review of the site.

    The Twitter suggestion is also a good idea.

  39. #39 |  Fluffy | 

    Omar,

    Don’t be absurd.

    I guarantee you that ANY political site blocked by AdWords would produce comments saying “Google blocked you because they’re biased against [insert political focus of site here].” So if your “friends” won’t subscribe to any political movement where people do that, I guess they better go join hermitages now.

    Please note that I don’t think, and didn’t post, that Google is purposefully getting rid of Radley because of his political views. I think Google is simply indifferent, and utilizes an abuse reporting tool that is easily abused, and that has been abused in the past.

  40. #40 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Google mistook the (former) Agitatrix title as being something lurid.

  41. #41 |  MichaelK42 | 

    You’ve been Scroogled.

    http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2007-09-17-n72.html

  42. #42 |  Bob42 | 

    Crap. Now where will I go to find all the best porn?

  43. #43 |  God's Own Drunk | 

    Dude, the porn on this site sucks.

  44. #44 |  Constant | 

    If you switch to porn ads, the advertisers will not complain about the phantom pornographic content of your site.

  45. #45 |  Andrew Williams | 

    We’re Google. We don’t care. We don’t have to. :snort: :snort:

    (tip o’ the hat to the great Lily Tomlin)

  46. #46 |  ClubMedSux | 

    I wouldn’t expect an answer today: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/09/01/gmail-now-really-down-can-i-get-my-email-back-please/

  47. #47 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    You have ads on your site, Radley?

    Firefox + AdBlock Plus = no ads ever.

    I don’t get why people think this is a great idea. If someone offers you content on the condition you display their ads, finding ways to get the content without obeying the condition is a form of fraud.

    And as a practical manner, it costs money to put stuff on the internet. I prefer the current model where most things are paid for by advertisers and don’t appreciate people undermining that because they have some neurosis about advertising.

  48. #48 |  omar | 

    I prefer the current model where most things are paid for by advertisers and don’t appreciate people undermining that because they have some neurosis about advertising.

    Here here!

    I rarely click on ads on websites, but when I am searching for a product, the ads are the first place I look. Google’s adwords are very targeted based on search. When a company makes an online sale, teams of non-google people try to figure out which search-words people were using to lead to that sale. This means someone has spent time to figure out when I type in a certain text pattern, I’m probably looking for their product or something similar. And that means, I’m really likely to find what I’m looking for.

    The ads on this website tend to be hilariously innapropriate.

  49. #49 |  Rimfax | 

    Stormy Dragon,

    Adblock is client side. The commenter wasn’t suggesting that Radley block his own ads, he was saying that he never sees Radley’s ads, because Adblock keeps his browser from ever showing them.

  50. #50 |  Stephen | 

    I thought adblock gave you a choice of what to block. I don’t see why I should have to look at ads for something I will never buy. Tampons for example. I’m a guy and I avoid that section of the store.

    Non-blinking ads in the margin are not worth blocking and sometimes might even be for a product I am thinking about buying. I am OK with those.

    But pop-ups and flash ads that FORCE you to watch or click or something are a guaranteed way to make me try to block it and for sure NEVER BUY THAT PRODUCT EVER EVER EVER!!!!!!!!!

  51. #51 |  Sam | 

    Does adsense count site hits or ad loads when calculating payout?

  52. #52 |  joev | 

    i concur with the email carpet bombing. this is like some power mad (freshly minted or stale dated) supervisor in of complaints dept or some tool using a ToS reporting tool.

  53. #53 |  joev | 

    sorry, forgot third option–deliberate/willful twisted translation of policies.

  54. #54 |  Alan | 

    Adblocking – The big reason I use Adblock (and I do disable it for many of the sites I read regularly) is because of all the stupid high-CPU Flash ads. If I regularly had audio turned on I would’ve started using it earlier. For my regularly-read sites where I’m still blocking ads, it’s because when I unblocked those sites I got hit with high-resource ads.

    I don’t even have to look at the CPU utilization, I hear the fan on my laptop kick up a couple of notches and I know someone’s got a Flash ad doing some sort of stupid animation (inefficiently, most likely) and flooring my CPU.

  55. #55 |  hamburglar007 | 

    Good for google. I for one am sick of all the titties and breastistists being flaunted on this site.

  56. #56 |  Mr P | 

    omar – While Google’s operation is largely automated there are people who can make things happen. One notorious example is SomethingAwful’s being nearly excluded from search results for years because someone held a grudge over a raid on news.admin.net-abuse.email. If nothing else, the response time for issues with sites its employees are likely to actively read tends to be a lot better for obvious reasons.

  57. #57 |  Ben | 

    To those asking, it’s more a question of the annoying ads popping up everywhere. Ads that flash oposite colors and ones with automatic sound which kill me at work. I actually run Opera at home which relies on the user to block individual pieces and doesn’t allow you to block google text ads. I actually like that better, but FF is better for work, so I use it.

  58. #58 |  Bill | 

    It was an easy way for me to make a donation to the site.

  59. #59 |  CTD | 

    Radley Balko, Smut Merchant!

  60. #60 |  Bryan | 

    There is porn on the internet?

  61. #61 |  Nick | 

    Few things…

    1) A couple commenters have already mentioned it and they’re correct. About a month ago, Obama supporters decided to battle the healthcare reform pushback by mass-reporting Google and YouTube videos as violations. When a certain number of people report it, it goes into a queue for actual people to review. Your Mackey posts drew enough mad statists that I bet it got you reported. The following comment can be found on almost every YouTube video critical of Obama:

    barackobamaexpress: For anyone who reads this; if you want to do your part today – something patriotic today, report this video to Youtube administration. It promotes racism, and fearmongering.

    2) Radley, you’re a journalist. Google will reply to you, most likely, the same day. Just tell them your doing a story on Google’s violation process. They replied to me immediately & said they’d answer my questions but first wanted to know who I was writing a story for.

    Email our press team at press@google.com. For non-urgent matters, call +1.650.930.3555 to leave a message. If you aren’t a member of the press, you will not receive a response.

    You are a member of the press!!!! And it would be an interesting article.

    Look at this smut:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20070213174849/http://www.theagitator.com/images/hero.jpg

    Shame.

  62. #62 |  Lascia Ch'io Pianga | 

    Can I get a waiver? I am among the worst consumers in history. I very rarely spend at all, and never via the internet. As such, it is a complete waste of effort to direct advertising my way. Is my use of Adblock+ acceptable then? Remember: The chances of a sale are zero.

  63. #63 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Google’s Aggravating Ad Policy | 

    [...] I mentioned a few weeks ago that Google had stopped serving AdSense ads to this site. The reason apparently was because of some porn-related comment spam to a seven-year-old post. I deleted the spam, and they restored the ads a few weeks later. [...]

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