On Tuesday evening, Google sent a conservative website an ultimatum: remove one of your articles, or lose the ability to make ad revenue on your website. The website was strong-armed into removing the content, and then warned that the page was “just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website.”
“Yesterday morning, we received a very bizarre letter from Google issuing us an ultimatum,” Shane Trejo, media relations director of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Michigan, wrote on The Liberty Conservative. “Either we were to remove a particular article or see all of our ad revenues choked off in an instant. This is the newest method that Big Brother is using to enforce thought control.”
The ultimatum came in the form of an email from Google’s ad placement service AdSense. The email specifically listed an article on The Liberty Conservative’s site, stating that the article violated AdSense’s policies.
“As stated in our program policies, Google ads may not be placed on pages that contain content that: Threatens or advocates harm on oneself or others; Harasses, intimidates or bullies an individual or group of individuals; Incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization,” the email stated.
The email warned The Liberty Conservative that it must either remove ads from that page, or “modify or remove the violating content to meet our AdSense policies.”
“Please be aware that if additional violations are accrued, ad serving may be disabled to the website listed above,” the AdSense email warned. “Please be aware that the URL above is just an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites that you own.”
Trejo argued that the article Google specified “contained no offensive content.” Rather, it “was merely distinguishing the many differences between the alt-right and literal Nazis.”
The Liberty Conservative writer suggested that the article was singled out because it was written by former Liberty Conservative contributor James Allsup. Allsup was involved in the “Unite the Right” riot (which Trejo described as a “rally-turned-riot”) in Charlottesville, Va. Trejo said the article was targeted because “it was authored by a man deemed to be an ‘unperson’ by the corporate elite.”
“Due to financial constraints, we had to comply with Google’s strong-arming tactics for the time being,” Trejo admitted. “An independent publisher such as The Liberty Conservative needs revenue from the Google ad platform in order to survive.”
Despite this necessary surrender, The Liberty Conservative writer remained optimistic. “We look forward to the day where rival ad platforms who respect the intellectual freedom of their customers can outcompete Google, but those days have not arrived yet,” he wrote. “These tech companies have us all by the short hairs, and post-Charlottesville, they are all working in unison to enforce the Orwellian nightmare. Nobody is safe.”