Contest: why does google hate me?

Several weeks ago, I bought a google adword for myself. Why? Mostly just for fun, to play with the technology. It gives me some indication of how often I am “googled” and lets me cover the most frequent mis-spellings of my difficult name. Unfortunately, I am apparently not “Google material.” Just got this email:

> Alex Halavais
> He sees all, knows all.
> Want to know why?
> Action taken: Suspended – Pending Revision
> Issue(s): Unacceptable Content
> ~~~~~~~~~
> -> Content: At this time, Google policy does not permit the
> advertisement of websites that contain “language that advocates against
> an individual, group, or organization”. As noted in our advertising
> terms and conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial
> discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site.

Of course, they haven’t told me what is objectionable on this site. I have an email in, but while waiting for the official response, I figure I’ll leave it to the readers to place bets on what the offending parts of the site are. (I certainly have my own guesses–but it’s really hard to be sure.)

Wasn’t there some quickly forgotten ideal at Google not to do evil? Since when did enforcing political homogeneity fall into that rubric.


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  1. Posted 3/12/2004 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    an advocate eh? isn’t advertising or reviewing products advocating an organization, specifically the organization that produces those products, as such google would be against its own policy?

  2. Bill
    Posted 3/12/2004 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Pretty much anything you write is going to offend somebody. With a broad enough policy, this definitely rules out some of their other advertisers, like the New York Times.

    But I bet they just have the googlebot check for keywords, and some of your quoting may have triggered these. Think about what these quotes look like without the context:

    > More muslims have died at the hands of killers…

    > Women are the devils favorite weapon…

    > “Gay Terrorists”

  3. Posted 3/12/2004 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Then I’d never make the cut — I’m pretty rabidly anti-PETA. On the bright side, they’d never make it, either, since they advovate against omni- and carnivores.

    Enforcing political homogeneity is an unfortunate consequence of “being a top-of-the-food-chain meta-publishing company” these days, of course. Suits follow, otherwise. You can’t actually do good without being against SOMEone, and apparently, that’s not going to cut it for google.

    Interestingly, by this definition, any anti-terrorist organization (including, say, the US Army) would be unable to advertise either, eh? Sounds like they’d have to be applying these rules with some amount of bias to begin with…To tell the truth, I wonder if we’d find ANY opinion-based soapboxes (blogs included) which technically passed this muster. Can you say hegemony?

  4. Aaron
    Posted 3/14/2004 at 7:10 pm | Permalink


    Is it possible that Google thought that the advertisement text was a slam on Alex Halavais written by an irresponsible third party? They may have just reviewed your ad text without looking at your site.


  5. Alex
    Posted 3/14/2004 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Aaron: I don’t think so. I didn’t post the whole email, but I get the impression it is based on a human viewing my site. Since they haven’t gotten back to me, I don’t really know yet…

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