Google rebuffs anonymous accusation of AdSense fraud

Google brushes off a self-described Google employee's account of serious and widespread AdSense fraud as a "complete fiction."

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Google

A top Google executive waded into an online forum popular with developers on Tuesday to shoot down a claim that the company was defrauding partners in its AdSense program.

Matt Cutts, Google's head of the Web spam team, took to Hacker News to deny claims made by an alleged ex-Google employee that the company has engaged in widespread fraud of its AdSense partners.

After speaking with people who work on the AdSense team, Cutts said that the claims of fraud were a "conspiracy-laden fake, from the typos to wrong terminology to untrue policies to the lack of specific names of people."

AdSense is a major partner network for Google that accounts for about a quarter of Google's revenue. The anonymous accuser described on PasteBin claimed first-hand knowledge of a purported scheme that started in 2009 to cancel AdSense accounts just before payouts to prevent publishers from collecting money that Google owed them.

"We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period (which is why account bans never occur immediately after a payout). The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense, while having already served up the ads to the public," reads the accusation.

The alleged Google policy included a color-coded plan detailing when to block or approve different kinds of AdSense subscribers, called AdSense Quality Control Color Codes.

In addition to Cutt's denial, Google officially rebutted the accusations in a strongly-worded statement sent to CNET.

"This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction," said a Google spokesperson. "The color-coding and "extreme quality control" programs the author describes don't exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users."

"All publishers that sign up for AdSense agree to the Terms and Conditions of the service and a set of policies designed to ensure the quality of the network for users, advertisers and other publishers," the spokesperson continued. "When we discover violations of these policies, we take quick action, which in some cases includes disabling the publisher's account and refunding affected advertisers."

The allegations so far lack documentary evidence supporting the claims of abuse and fraud.

Several AdSense publishers have volunteered on Hacker News to provide documentation indicating that Google cut off their accounts just before payouts. But the existence of canceled payouts just before they were due is not the same as evidence of a Google policy to unjustly keep money from AdSense publishers.

"This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction," a Google spokesperson said. "The color-coding and 'extreme quality control' programs the author describes don't exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users."

"All publishers that sign up for AdSense agree to the Terms and Conditions of the service and a set of policies designed to ensure the quality of the network for users, advertisers and other publishers," the spokesperson continued. "When we discover violations of these policies, we take quick action, which in some cases includes disabling the publisher's account and refunding affected advertisers."

The allegations as published so far lack documentary evidence supporting the claims of abuse and fraud. The accuser says it took until now to successfully conceal his or her identity, which is why it took so long to come forward.

Several AdSense publishers have volunteered on Hacker News to provide documentation indicating that Google cut off their accounts just before payouts. But the existence of canceled payouts just before they were due is not the same as evidence of a Google policy to unjustly keep money from AdSense publishers.

 

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