From the apropos of nothing files:
The Arizona Daily Star IT department (which provides technical support to TucsonCitizen.com) got a nastygram today from Google Ad Sense saying that a blog post at TucsonCitizen.com violated the Google Ad Sense terms of service in that the ad appeared on a page that had “mature content.”
That was curious to me, as the site administrator, since TC.com doesn’t feature or allow “mature content.”
Turns out, the offending page was a blog post by sports writer Chris Wuensch about New England Patriot and former UA great Rob Gronkowski’s dalliance with porn star Bibi Jones and the resultant hoo-hah (so to speak) in Twitterland over it.
Apparently, Google’s filters can’t distinguish partial nudity published for news reasons from partial nudity published for prurient reasons. Why it took Google eight months to find the supposedly offending content is a mystery (although, considering it indexes about 50 billion web pages, perhaps it’s not so mysterious).
To prevent the almighty Google from banning TucsonCitizen.com from the Ad Sense ranks and the hundreds of dollars annually it provides, we had two choices: Delete the story or delete Ad Sense from the offending page.
I chose the latter since I didn’t want Google’s mindless algorithms dictating news and photo selection (which is kind of a bummer since pervy interest in Bibi Jones keeps racking up (so to speak) the page views of that article month over month).
But the notice raised a serious question about the power of Google to dictate to news providers (such as we are) what is or isn’t acceptable content for its ads. What’s more, the photo (which you can see if you click on the link) is rather tame, considering she’s a porn star and all. Plus, there are other photos of Bibi and Gronk on Chris’s site but her fanny is covered, so it’s apparently not Bibi, it’s her bottom that offends Google.
Chris emailed me before posting the photo to make sure it was OK and I told him it was, so the photo wasn’t posted without some consideration by the poster and the administrator as to its appropriateness for the site and TC.com’s audience.
But a computer is substituting its judgement for mine based on some arbitrary set of criteria devised in Mountain View, Calif.
I can see Google’s interest in not paying millions to pornographers who are already making millions enough off the Internet, but a news story that uses a photo that shows a little tushy isn’t even in the same (dirty word) ballpark.
It seems to me there should be some other form of appeal other than the “either or” option provided in Google’s Shame On You email warning. Moreover, there should be some consideration, or perhaps an exception, for news providers operating under the Constitutional protection of a free press.
I’ve sent a note to Google (via Twitter, since there’s no email to be found for Google on Google.com, which is rather ironic) arguing some of the above. I’ll let you know if I get a response.
Here’s text of the message we got:
This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.
Issue ID#: xxxxxxxcx
Affected website: tucsoncitizen.com
Example page where violation occurred: http://tucsoncitizen.com/bear-down-and-blog/2012/09/20/adult-film-star-bibi-jones-tweets-new-rob-gronkowski-photo/
Action required: Please make changes to your site within 72 hours.
Current account status: Active
Google ads may not be placed on pages with adult or mature content. This includes, but is not limited to, pages with images or videos containing:
- Strategically covered nudity
- Sheer or see-through clothing
- Lewd or provocative poses
- Close-ups of breasts, buttocks, or crotches
For more information about keeping your content family-safe, please review our program guidelines <http://support.google.com/adsense/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=48182&ctx=cb&src=cb&cbid=54mab9y5bg90> and these tips from the policy team <http://adsense.blogspot.ie/2011/08/policy-tips-keeping-network-family-safe.html> . 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. For more information regarding our policy warning notifications, visit our Help Center: https://support.google.com/adsense/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1378153&ctx=topic. We thank you in advance for your cooperation. Sincerely,The Google AdSense Team