Rad Geek People's Daily

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Rad Geek People’s Daily Too Hot for Google?

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 18 years ago, in 2004, on the World Wide Web.

So I had this $25.00 gift certificate for Google AdWords, and — foolish me — thought that I might use it to advertise my site. After a few hours in the big leagues, however, I got this e-mail greeting in my mailbox:

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2004 14:12:57 -0800
From: <adwords-support@google.com>
To: …
Subject: Your Google AdWords Approval Status

Hello Charles,

Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords. After reviewing your account, I have found that one or more of your ads or keywords does not meet our guidelines. The results are outlined in the report below.

SUGGESTIONS:

-> 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.

Well, that’s fine. Google has the right to determine what they will or won’t run ads for. But I’m a bit puzzled by the application of the standards being cited. My reply:

Dear Google AdWords Team:

Thank you for your recent e-mail concerning my account with Google AdWords. While I understand that you have every right to determine what will or will not be advertised through Google, I have to confess that I’m a bit mystified by the reasons you have given here for suspending the ad campaign for my weblog, http://radgeek.com

On Tue, 23 Mar 2004 14:12:57 -0800, you wrote:

SUGGESTIONS:

-> 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.

Again, you’re fully within your rights to choose what you will or won’t advertise. But I’m having trouble understanding what it is on my website that constitutes language that advocates against an individual, group, or organization. Of course, my website carries a great deal of political content; and since it carries political content it contains some entries that are critical of other people and organizations. For example, lately I have carried items criticizing Samuel Huntington’s and David Brooks’ writings on immigration, condemning Virgin Airways’ plans to install urinals in the shape of women’s lips in the JFK Airport clubhouse, criticizing President Bush and condemning the terrorist bombing in Madrid, and encouraging people to attend the pro-choice march in Washington DC in April. All of these items might be construed as advocating against some individual (such as the President or David Brooks), some organization (such as Virgin Airways or al-Qaeda), or some group (such as misogynists). But what is the line between merely disagreeing with someone or some group, and presenting views in opposition to theirs, and language advocating against that person or group? I would understand if AdWords simply did not accept political ads, or ads from sites trading in political criticism. But THAT is surely not the case. Consider the following typical AdWords results from a search for the keyword republican:

“The Passion of Clinton”
and other Democratic nonsense
New & Satire: We report You despair
www.affunnystan.com

Build a Stronger America
Support the RNC and the President’s
Compassionate Conservative agenda.
www.RNC.org

The Right Wing Conspiracy
Proudly become an official member.
T-shirt, free newsletter, and books
RightWingConspiracy.org

John Ashcroft Gets Sexy?
The Ashcroft Sex Film Contest
Celebrity Judges – Win $1,000!
nerve.com/promos/videocontest

All of these sites carry strongly-worded political content, and all of them criticize specific individuals and organizations. Or consider the following AdWords search result for the keyword feminism:

Feminist Fantasies
Essays on feminism in the media,
workplace, home, and the military.
www.eagleforum.org

(This is an ad that leads directly to a page containing a great deal of advocacy against feminists as a group, and advertising a book which is devoted to the same.)

I’m not writing to suggest that these sites should be suspended. Rather, I don’t understand what the salient differences are between the content at these pages and the content at http://radgeek.com/ such that the former is acceptable content for advertisement through Google AdWords and the latter is not. Could you explain to me further why this is so–or perhaps give some specific example of the nature of the problem? If so I would be much obliged. I really appreciate the service that Google makes available through AdWords, but I don’t understand the policies and if I don’t understand them, I fear that this will leave me unable to choose to advertise events or products through your service in the future. Since I would like to have as productive a relationship with you as possible, I hope that you could either make clear to me what the problems with my site are, or — if there are not such problems — reinstate the account.

Thank you very much.

Charles Johnson
Rad Geek People’s Daily

Of course, I am not an impartial observer of my own website. Is there something that I’m just not getting here? Is it because I called the President a dickhead? Is it because my recent slam on John Ashcroft wasn’t accompanied with a snarky porn video contest? What is it? If you know, help me out here–if I’m going to be too offensive to The Powers That Be to run on Google AdWords, I’d at least like to know what it is that I’m doing right….

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