Google doesn’t like porn. Not only that, but Google doesn’t like salacious references couched in irony, copy concerning scantily clad people or anything with the whiff of fleshy impropriety. If Google were an individual, he might be described as something of a teetotaller.
So it’s no surprise that prominent blogger and AdSense publisher Coolzor received a warning letter from Google asking him to alter a post that contained nude photos and references to porn. The post in question isn’t exactly XXX fare; it intelligently discusses a European advertising campaign that includes photos of world leaders in compromising positions. Adult comedy surely, but pornography worthy of censorship?
Coolzor decided to censor the images in his post, but his situation is similar to that of other publishers across the Web who find themselves affected by Google’s content guidelines. Some would call it the price of doing profitable business, while others would bemoan the idea that Google is censoring intelligent conversation for the sake of profits. In Coolzor’s case, surely an algorithm unable to parse social commentary from smut must be at fault.
Google needs to do a better job of policing AdSense. By better job, I mean it needs to hand review takedown notices from time to time. An intelligent human would understand the difference between Coolzor’s post and, say, Fleshbot.
It’s not really an economic argument, since Google profits from more automation, not less. It’s made up of engineers, not social workers. But the company would engender a lot more plaudits if it took a human interest in its human publishers.
Call that a feel-good argument if you will, but when your customers are chatty bloggers in the business of directing conversational traffic, it’s not a bad idea to show a little love.
P.S.: Remember when people thought Google Checkout could help the adult industry make online transactions?