An anonymous post today described a multi-year Google scheme to shut down AdSense accounts without explanation and take publishers’ money. Attempting to quash the allegations before they spread further, Google described them as “complete fiction.”
The post describes an elaborate scheme starting in 2009 to flag, audit and ban sites that were earning $1,000, $5,000 and $10,000 per month from shared revenue generated by Google AdSense ads — the simple contextual ads that publishers can run on their sites with minimal work.
Without providing documentation or naming names, the poster said he or she was on the AdSense team and heard one executive describe an updated policy as “shelter the possible problem makers, and fuck the rest.”
While stories of Google turning its back on the “don’t be evil” stance of its early days have increasing currency, the logic of this one seems a little strange. Shutting down publisher accounts because they start earning money would deprive Google of any future revenue, too.
Google said in an email reply to an inquiry about the post: “This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction. The color-coding and ‘extreme quality control’ programs the author describes don’t exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users.”
The company said it does flag and disable publisher accounts for various reasons, including inappropriate content, misleading ad presentation and “clickbombing.” Google said it refunds money to advertisers when abuse is found.