Has the mass censorship crackdown begun?
(INTELLIHUB) — In a Wednesday blog post by Google’s Scott Spencer, he said the company had banned 200 publishers from accessing its AdSense advertising service for supposedly posting fake news stories.
Google said it had cracked down on sites which contained 1) Ads for illegal products; 2) Misleading ads; 3) Bad ads on mobile; 4) Ads trying to game the system and, 5) Promoting and profiting from bad sites. But the emphasis was primarily on the so-called “fake news” category which has dominated the media buzz since the election of Donald Trump in November.
Here’s what he wrote:
In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.
In his post explaining how Google’s attempt to crackdown on “bad ads, sites and scammers,” he said the company had expanded its policies against misleading websites in November, leading to the crackdown.
From November to December 2016, we reviewed 550 sites that were suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations. We took action against 340 of them for violating our policies, both misrepresentation and other offenses, and nearly 200 publishers were kicked out of our network permanently.
I guess this is just a mere coincidence that it has anything to do with crushing independent media sites and that this action took place in November — the same month of Trump’s election and the liberal hysteria from the fake news media (i.e. CNN) surrounding that.
In total, Google took down 1.7 billion ads that they found in apparent violation of their policies in 2016, which is more than double the 780 million they removed in 2015.
But, it wasn’t just fake news that Google’s putting the brakes on. Here’s some further examples of common policy violations among bad sites in 2016:
We took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams.
We took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
And we suspended around 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, like imitation designer watches.
Some of the more conventional bans were the result of Google adding a policy mid-year prohibiting ads for payday loans, considered predatory. Roughly five million payday loan ads were disabled over the latter six months of 2016. Also among those the removed ads were what Google calls “tabloid cloakers.” These advertisers run what look like links to news headlines, but when the user clicks, an ad for a product such as a weight loss supplement pops up. Google suspended 1,300 accounts engaged in tabloid cloaking in 2016.
In addition to all the above, we support industry efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads to protect people from bad experiences across the web. While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.
Google hasn’t publicly disclosed the list of 200 sites it had permanently banned but we can only imagine that a large portion of prominent independent news sites may have made the list.
Is the crackdown a concerted effort to stamp out free speech and the Fifth Estate in the name of clearing up so-called “fake news” — a term deliberately fabricated by the mainstream media the likes of CNN post Trump’s smashing election victory to discredit real, independent media?