‘not evil’ Google acts to shut down UK education charity

‘not evil’ Google acts to shut down UK education charity

Billy has recently received another threat from Google re the design of the Lecture List pages.

A bit of background: Billy supports the list entirely from his own pocket. The hosting is quite expensive as the list runs a large database and requires a dedicated server. The Google adsense revenue covers about a half of the hosting charge so you can imagine how Billy feels when the check from Google doesn’t show.

Google turned off the money last year complaining about the wording on some of the site’s pages. At the time, we made all the changes Google required, had them review the site, and finally got their blessing (after, I’m sad to say, lots of calls to the Google press office).

So the ‘not evil’ mob are at it again:

From: "Google AdSense" <adsense-support@google.com>
Date: 2 August 2006 17:34:01 BST
To: <billy@lecturelist.org>
Subject: Google AdSense Hello, While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as http://www.lecturelist.org/content/view_speaker/2304. Publishers are not permitted to encourage users to click on Google ads or bring excessive attention to ad units. For example, your site cannot contain phrases such as "click the ads," "support our sponsors," "visit these recommended links," or other similar language that could apply to the Google ads on your site. Publishers may not use arrows or other symbols to direct attention to the ads on their sites, and publishers may not label the Google ads with text other than "sponsored links" or "advertisements." Please make any necessary changes to your web pages in the next 3 business days. We also suggest that you take the time to review our program policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance. Once you update your site, we will automatically detect the changes and ad serving will not be affected. If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future. Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely, The Google AdSense Team

So here we go again! Here’s my reply to Google:

Dear Google Adsense person, I have just now heard that you have once again threatened Billy Clark from The Lecture List (http://www.lecturelist.org/) about compliance with your TOS. The lecture List's pages have not changed since you last discussed this issue. Your team reviewed the Lecture List pages and found them to be compliant. I don't understand how if this page was compliant last year, it is not today? As your notes should hopefully show you, the list is a UK no-for-profit company and they rely exclusively on the revenue from Adsense to pay their ever-increasing hosting charges. I notice that you have disabled Mr Clark's account as ads are not appearing on the site. Please re-instate these immediately. I regret to inform you that, in exactly the same way as we were forced to do the last time you became evil, we will have to make this a public conversation. We are informing our friends and supporters, including the press offices of all the major universities and museums in the UK as well as Emily Bell, Editor of the Guardian's online pages who is a staunch supporter of the Lecture List. I urge you to act swiftly to make sure that Google is not seen to be evil (something your founders were keen on I understand) All the best,
Dug Falby pp/ Billy Clark

Meanwhile, Billy isn’t going to be able to cover this month’s hosting, I’m keeping fingers crossed:-(

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