Google Weblog

October 03, 2003: Shut Up and Serve Ads

Russell Beattie points out that Google's terms of service requires that you not publicly discuss AdSense. Jason Kottke points out this "seems to fly in the face of Sergey Brin's Google rule #1: 'Don't be evil'." Cory Doctorow agrees saying "Google shouldn't ask all its users to submit to an unreasonable restriction on their speech in order to contain the spread of negative information about its service."

Meanwhile, other annoying provisions are that you can't: have multiple accounts (which is useful when you want to keep separate statistics for separate sites), talk to advertisers about their ads, disclose any results, get paid for anything Google considers "fradulent clicks", find out why they're considered "fraudulent clicks", pass on payments to anyone. And Google can cancel you whenever without a reason.

Erik Thauvin and Derek Powazek, both well-respected web writers, got their accounts and payments canceled for "fraudulent clicks", even though they didn't try to cheat. They ran ads for Google and now Google refuses to show them any evidence of wrongdoing or pay them for their space. Some suggest that Google simply cancels accounts when they payouts get too high to avoid paying.

*Update:* We previously reported that the don't-talk-about-AdSense provision was recently added. Several sources, including a Google employee, have said this is a mistake. We've corrected the story above and apologize for the error.

Posted by Aaron Swartz on October 03, 2003 02:51 PM