Way back in 1999 I decided to enter the new millennium with a web presence. I got very lucky and registered byGosh.com, and posted public domain literature, including the great American classic Huckleberry Finn. Little did I know that many years later this seemingly innocuous act would bring the wrath of the Great Google God thundering down upon me.
Over time the site became – by my modest standards – reasonably popular, with over 200,000 page views in a good month. In 2006 I joined the Google Adsense program to monetize the site to a small degree.
Over a decade later – August 31, 2017 – I received an email from Google, stating unequivocally that my innocuous website “Threatens or advocates for harm”; “Harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group”; and/or “Incites hatred”. The email cites a page from Huckleberry Finn as an example of my malfeasance. There is no mention of due process or opportunity for appeal. Google demanded that I remove ads from the offending pages.
I was amused that anyone would find Huckleberry Finn hateful. It is quite the opposite of that. But … it does include language that would be as inappropriate today as it was unremarkable in the southern Mississippi river valley in the 1840s. And Google has a responsibility to its clients – advertisers who might reasonably object to having their ads posted next to that language. I had no objection to removing the ads, and did so within a day or two. I replaced them with a cartoon.
Going beyond Google’s demands, I also posted a more PC version of the novel, to give readers a choice between the original classic or one with less objectionable language.
Fast forward a few weeks. Doing routine analysis, I was startled to see a drastic decline in traffic to the site. Digging deeper, page views had dropped by half on the very day I received the Google email, and continued to plummet from there. The decline bottomed out a few weeks later, with page views decreased by 75%.
Without even informing me, Google did much more than just demand removal of ads. In spite of my immediate compliance, Google must have secretly deprecated my search rankings, especially on LeapSearch which drove most of my traffic. Google doesn’t own LeapSearch but there must be a connection there. I’ve checked all the public blacklists – byGosh is clean there. Google is using a diabolical secret blacklist, again with no due process or possibility of appeal.
Pyramid of False Moral Superiority
I had absolutely no objection to Google’s demand that I remove ads from Huckleberry Finn. In fact I was amused, and I complied immediately. I object with extreme vehemence the false moral superiority that lead Google to secretly destroy traffic to my entire site. I’m mad as hell and I’m
not gonna take it anymore. Sigh … I still need Adsense to monetize my sites, and I still absolutely love all the great free stuff from Google.
Dear Google, I hate myself for loving you.
Update: It turns out Google Books also offers Huckleberry Finn for free online reading (though not as well-done as mine – no illustrations). My posting of Huck Finn is hate speech so vile that Google felt compelled by moral decency to demonitize my entire site. Google’s posting of the exact same text is, in thier eyes, I suppose, a public service. This is nothing short of supremely arrogant, vicously self-rightous, bufoonishly evil hypocracy.
Update: I am not only a hate monger, but also a criminal – a pirate guilty of online sharing of copyrighted material, according to Google. This time my malfeasance is my posting of The Adventures of Tom Saywer, which has been public domain for many decades, and which Google Books also posts.
WPPOV supports freedom from Net Neutrality and the GDPR. The Internet of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.