Google seems to have forgotten its motto, “Don’t be evil,” lately. The popular search engine will filter results for its definition of what “truth” is, ignoring the fact that many issues aren’t exactly “settled science.” While many people might make up their minds after viewing the first few search results, less lazy individuals may prefer to inspect all of the available data from trusted sources before forming an opinion.
Just as disturbing is the fact that they are threatening to close the Adsense accounts of news sites over what Google considers “violent and disturbing content.” Antiwar.com appears to have become one of its most recent targets and is now dealing with complaints about content that includes pictures of U.S. troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners of war and casualties of the conflict in Ukraine. Yes, these pictures are disturbing, but what do you expect from a site that calls itself Antiwar.com? I would not expect its writers to sanitize the fact that war is an ugly business.
Google may be unhelpful in this regard. It’s an Internet giant whose search engine had more than 60% of searches plugged into it last year. However, it could still learn that it’s not the only search engine out there. Bing seems to be pretty good at delivering recent news results on your favorite topics. DuckDuckGo is growing in popularity among people who don’t want their searches to be tracked. People could demonstrate the whole point of having a free market system if they get fed up with Google not delivering the information they need.
Adsense isn’t even the only choice for banner advertising. If you still want control over your cost per click, there’s Bidvertiser and Project Wonderful. If you’re a publisher who worries about Adsense finding some excuse for seizing your earnings, you might as well try Anonymous Ads and earn some Bitcoin instead. (My experience with Anonymous Ads? Low but frequent payouts and it’s easy to create new ads without having to remember a login. Just make sure you write down your ad number so you can remember it later.) The point here is that Google has competition on all fronts and would do well to remember that.
Google may not listen to reason on this one, but it may notice the drop in advertising revenue if enough slightly-less-known sites like Antiwar.com start moving away from its advertising platform. It’s like the grasshoppers in this one scene from “A Bug’s Life”:
“Just one ant” won’t be noticed much by Google. When it gets down to it, Google would miss VEVO’s music videos on Youtube before they’d miss Antiwar.com. If they were to lose every single small blog out there, though, they might start noticing that Adsense is having a long stretch of months that are slightly slower than normal in terms of earnings. Considering the fact that Google was facing a class-action lawsuit regarding allegations that it’s stealing money earned by publishers, I’d say they’re starting to see the pushback and will continue to do so if more independent website and blog owners are willing to start moving their advertising space away from Adsense.