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Old 07-15-2004   #1
AvengingAngel
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De Facto Censorship of Advertisers

As reported in “Google’s Gag Order”, Google is on a collision course with its advertisers and free speech on the Internet. Its uneven, arbitrary and after the fact application of its “advocates against” standard has led Google to drop a wide range of long-time Google Adwords advertisers, including Perrspectives, The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, workers trying to unionize Wal-Mart, the environmental group Oceana, an anti-Bush political novelty site, and a host of others.

Google states that its editorial guidelines feature a provision allowing it to terminate advertisers whose sites feature “unacceptable content” including “language that advocates against an individual, group or organization.” These criteria are not applied at the time advertisers submit their Adwords ads to Google. Instead, the Google Adwords team reviews some ads and advertisers on an ad hoc basis only after the ads are already running.

The result is inevitably uneven treatment of Google advertisers: the left-of-center Perrspectives is dropped; mysteriously, MichaelMooreHatesAmerica.com is not. And size does matter after all. The opinion speech of The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, The Republican Party, John Kerry for President, Christianity Today, The American Conservative, and others is just fine with Google. In any event, the vague “advocates against” standard and its seemingly random and post-submission application make Google advertisers extremely susceptible to the organized protests of people or groups with a political agenda. Evenly applied, Google’s standard would result in it having to drop hundreds of advertisers, including every newspaper, magazine, opinion journal, blog, political party, campaign, and even religious organization.

For the full story, see: Google's Gag Order

For a proposal for reform by Google, see: A Google Freedom of Information Act
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Old 07-15-2004   #2
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Thumbs down Hogwash

And where is this quote supposedly taken from?

Quote:
Today’s Google is, in the words of George W. Bush, an “evil-doer.”
That is absolute hogwash. The First Amendment guarantees that Congress won't pass laws abridging freedom of speech. Other than that, there is no such right.

BTW, what makes that post not driveby spam?
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Old 07-15-2004   #3
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Re: Hogwash

To clarify:

1. I completely agree that Google has done nothing illegal. The articles I referred to make that clear. You are right that Google is not the government or a common carrier; they have no obligation to respect the constitutionally protected speech of advertisers. What I am suggesting is that given Google's market dominance and unique access to readers, customers and communities, they have a social responsibility to provide access to the widest possible range of opinion speech. I believe they can do that while balancing the interests and community standards of readers.

2. George W. Bush has used the term "evil-doer" to refer to Al Qaeda specifically and terrorists in general. I used that term in part (and in parody) because Google's own corporate mantra is "Don't Be Evil."

3. This post was not "drive by spam." The intent was to bring attention to this issue of threats, even inadvertent, to free speech on the Internet. I included links to my own articles on the subject, since the issues are complex.
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Old 07-15-2004   #4
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The article deliberately twisted and took out of context something said by George Bush and attributed to him something that he in fact never said. That makes it a flat out lie.

There is no more responsibility than any other publishing or advertising venue - such as magazines - other than to exercise editorial discretion in accepting or refusing advertisers by the standards of their choice. The fact that any of them, including Google, should become so overwhelmingly popular as to be highly influential does in no way obligate them to pander to the demands of radicals, subversives, or any others they believe to be undesirables - for any reason.

Success does not create victims.

BTW, people who post the same post in 3+ forums at the same site are known in some circles as serial spammers.

Last edited by Marcia : 07-15-2004 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 07-15-2004   #5
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I think there are good legal reasons why they don't allow "bashing" ads. Being positive I think it gives them more headroom with the real results.

>are known in some circles as serial spammers

Marcia, I wish I could be as polite as you
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Old 07-15-2004   #6
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Lighten Up

Gang,

Let me see if I can clarify further:

1. I posted this topic in 2 forums because I thought it touched on Adwords specifically and Google business practices in general. I thought that might actually be helpful in stimulating real discussion; apparently not.

2. We're all in violent agreement that Google absolutely has the right to apply any editorial standard they want, no matter how arbitrarily or inconsistently applied, and no matter the perception of bias. As a FAN of Google, I'm arguing that their current practices could be improved (I propose an alternative) and now have serious downsides for users - and them.

3. Again, the use of Bush's "evil-doer" phrase was meant as tongue-in-cheek and as a play on Google's own "Don't Be Evil", and was not written as an attribution. But to avoid confusion, especially for the sarcastically tone-deaf, it would be helpful to go back and tweak the language. Ugh.

As Rodney King would say, "Can't we all get along?"

Uh oh. I did it again.
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Old 07-15-2004   #7
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Man, this is a quality thread. (Damn, where's my old nuke button.)
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Old 07-15-2004   #8
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I'd avoided this one all day, great stuff.

Now we know this board is beginning to mature, how about some of the policies maturing with it?

Nick
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Old 07-15-2004   #9
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>>Now we know this board is beginning to mature, how about some of the policies maturing with it?

By the the same token, now that we as seasoned, experienced online community and public forum participants have purportedly matured over the years, how about if some of our behaviors mature along with it, such as adhering to proper forum etiquette, decorum and courtesy and exhibiting proper respect.
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Old 07-19-2004   #10
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Quote:
This post was not "drive by spam." The intent was to bring attention to this issue of threats, even inadvertent, to free speech on the Internet. I included links to my own articles on the subject, since the issues are complex.
You've probably put some people off by not making it clear in your initial post that this is your own proposal and you're referring to your own article.

It's not a problem to reference your own material and call for discussion on it -- in fact, I think I even encouraged you to start a thread on this over here.

We are working on a FAQ to let everyone know that threads meant to discuss your own material, product or service should go in the Beta Test area at first. Then the mods will move them into new areas as appropriate. That should help everyone, going forward.

Anyway, I say push the reset button and move forward with the discussion. What are the thoughts about how Google may refuse certain ads despite the fact that they have no written policies on this. In addition to the above article, there have been some others:
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