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Google goes to war on sites that criticize Google policies and Microsoft

by on27 August 2012 11209 times
Google

Last week a flurry of articles popped up showing that Microsoft had sent improper DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) take down notices claiming infringing material on sites that criticized their new Metro (or not Metro) UI. The move appeared to be done in order to directly harm these sites search rating. Some of the sites affected were Betanews.com, ngohq.com, gHacks.com, Hardware Canuck.com Technize.com and more. It was a very unusual move, but one that we predicted after Google changed their search algorithm to reduce site’s search rankings after “valid” DMCA takedown notices were received.

The problem here is that most of these sites were never served a notice directly. The notices were sent to Google instead and Google in their effort to play nice with Microsoft and Hollywood now decided to comply with the requests and removed the links from their search engine. If this seems improper, well it is highly improper and very underhanded considering that all of the sites listed have been critical of Microsoft’s next operating system including talking honestly about the horrible work flow and security.

What appears even more interesting is that after we published an article criticizing Google for their move to allow Hollywood and copyright holders even more power to affect the internet our own account with Google was suspended. We were not given any warning; no information was supplied on the “invalid activity” other than those two words. We were told that we could appeal the decision, but as expected that was declined with no additional information at all. The email came without any indication that anything was wrong with the site at all. Even a further check with our host found nothing suspicious or invalid. The notification simply said:

Hello,

With our advertising programs, we strive to create an online ecosystem that benefits publishers, advertisers and users. For this reason, we sometimes have to take action against accounts that demonstrate behavior toward users or advertisers that may negatively impact how the ecosystem is perceived. In your case, we have detected invalid activity on your site and your account has been disabled.

We're limited in the amount of information we can provide about your specific violation. We understand this can be frustrating for you, but we've taken these precautionary measures because intentional violators can use this information to circumvent our detection systems.

In some cases, publishers can make significant changes to correct the violation and are willing to comply with the AdSense program policies

Now here is the problem, how can anyone make “significant changes” without knowing what caused the suspension in the first place? Google’s refusal to report what caused this or to offer any warning seems both arbitrary and discriminatory. It seems like the opening shots in a war on sites that report more than the watered down news about Google and how they are further cooperating with the copyright industry. We would not be surprised to hear of other sites that have their AdSense account suspended suddenly in the coming weeks and months as Google and the copyright lobby tries to remove more sites and articles that attempt to tell the other side of the story.   In the meantime Google is still refusing to respond to our requests for detailed information to back up their claims of “invalid activity” but this is not surprising really as there was no invalid activity on our account or site. These activities should be remembered the next time Google makes their claims of being concerned with their users’ in any way. They have shown time and again that they are like any other corporate entity concerned with profit and just as unethical as the groups they claim to oppose in the name of a free and open internet.

Betanews article on DMCA takedowns
Ngohq article on DMCA takedowns

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Last modified on 27 August 2012
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