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Google tries to censor PleaseBeInformed.Com

Editorial Staff

Two days ago, the New York Post published here an article reporting that Google had demanded the removal of an article critical of its policies and then, seemingly, removed all search entries relating to it. Yesterday, we received a threat from Google to remove advertising from PleaseBeInformed.com because, they allege, an article "violates" their terms of service. But it's a dictionary listicle showing five differences between English and American terms.

Google alleges that our "Five English words that Americans get wrong" published last November "violates" a policy but does not specify in what way it thinks the policy is breached. Their notice says

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.

*Affected website:* pleasebeinformed.com

*Example page where violation occurred:*

*Action required:* Please make changes immediately to your site to follow AdSense program policies.

*Current account status:* Active

*Violation explanation*

As stated in our program policies, Google ads may not be placed on pages that contain content that:

- Threatens or advocates for harm on oneself or others;
- Harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals;
- Incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.

*How to resolve:*

- If you received a notification in regard to page content, we request that you immediately remove Google ads from the violating pages. If you are unable to, or unsure of how to remove the ads from these pages, or would like to continue monetizing the page with Google ads, please modify or remove the violating content to meet our AdSense policies.

In fact, there is no explanation of exactly what they allege we have done wrong. Also, there is no obvious way to tell Google they have made a mistake. An attempt to post a request to Google via the support forum resulted in our being flamed.

Despite this, Google makes threats:

Please be aware that if additional violations are accrued, ad serving may be disabled to the website listed above. You should immediately take time to review your pages with Google ads to ensure that they comply with our policies.

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.

The page does not in any way breach Google's policies. It simply draws attention to certain words that have completely different meanings in English v American. In fact, in relation to one term, in particular, we made a special effort to be sensitive, being aware that some might choose to read it in a negative way.

We do not know if we are being challenged for free speech, for the use of terms that Google's bots read in American but don't understand English or whether there is simply a word-count for an article that contains x number of terms that Google (because it is American) thinks are offensive.

Whichever it is, the simple fact is that Google, via its Adsense scheme, is trying to censor PleaseBeInformed.Com and we'd rather ditch the advertising than be dictated to by them, especially as they constantly promote illegal copies of publications by our publisher and by our boss, Nigel Morris-Cotterill.

We'll see what they do. So far, "do no evil" seems to be exactly the opposite of their SOP.

And if they ban us for such a piece, then pretty much every newspaper, dictionary (etc.) and other media sites must be banned, too.

One more thing: that article has been available, and indexed by Google many times, since November. The notice was sent just hours after we published an article "Google's AI isn't actually intelligent: its error shows it facilitates bank targeted fraud pointing out that Google's algorithm for its news alert had been manipulated by criminals and that it had sent to many persons interested in money laundering (which includes banks, etc.) links to dodgy websites because Google fails to properly program its systems. That may be a coincidence but one has to wonder.

And, just for the sake of completeness, the five words did not include "violations" v "breaches" nor "warning" v "threat." Time for part 2? .