Google Sued for Marketing Child Pornography

34 comments

A while ago a few SEW forum members noted that Google briefly had child porn AdWords links. Unsurprisingly, a politician decided to sue Google:

"This case is about a multi-billion dollar company that promotes and profits from child pornography,'' said a 16-page complaint filed in state Supreme Court in Mineola by Jeffrey Toback, a member of the Nassau County Legislature.

"They have paid links'' to Web sites containing child pornography, Toback told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ``They take money from these sites.''

They also got a comment from a Google rep, who either did not know about the recent ads, was trying to lie, or was offering intentional misdirection:

A Google spokesman denied the allegations in a statement and said the company takes numerous steps to prevent access to child pornography.

Comments

They also got a comment from

Quote:
They also got a comment from a Google rep, who either did not know about the recent ads, was trying to lie, or was offering intentional misdirection:

All three are equally as bad. tut tut tut

What a load of shit. This is

What a load of shit. This is a lawsuit for publicity and nothing more. The PPC providers should easily be able to dodge this.

I bet you can write dynamic keyword instructions that generate these ads very easily, and I'm also fairly sure that if you just targetted those keywords explicitly, it'd be a few days before anyone reviewed the ads and blocked them.

Unless the PPC providers positively vet EVERY ad before letting it go live, you'll always be able to slip things through, and positive vetting at those volumes is impossible, really. The fact is, people use the internet for less than savoury reasons sometimes.

I'm sure the SEs all have some horrifying stuff in their free search results, too, but again, it's impossible to be sure that it's all blocked

>Unless the PPC providers

>Unless the PPC providers positively vet EVERY ad before letting it go live

Why shouldn't they?

Are ads for CP more acceptable on Google than say on TV or the radio or magazines or newspapers?

Google should be able to win

Google should be able to win that lawsuit easily. I'm sure they're not intentionally trying to profit from child porn, but rather it's one of the many missing quality control steps they're known for.

Actually...

I think that everyone has an obligation to make it impossible for people to peddle this sort of stuff. We all know that it's fairly easy to write an algo that looks for "questionable" terms to do with children. We shouldn't be making excuses. Saying that they "profit and promote" this sort of stuff is clearly BS though... Not a clever tack to take - I'm sure they could have gone to Google with this and they would have been very receptive.

>> Why shouldn't they? It's

>> Why shouldn't they?

It's a question of practicality. The big PPC providers must get millions of new creatives in their systems every day. Trying to police every one before permitting it to go live would mean a lead time you measure with a calendar - and failure to vet everything renders the vetting you do essentially worthless.

Even if they try and weed out only ads in "questionable" areas for review, there's still the dynamic match issue, the bad guys would just be forced to work out how to get their ads to display using the {keyword:} functionality. Now that could be removed, but thats a seriously regressive step, andI find it unlikely that a court would require it.

Its similar in concept to the proposed legislation from a couple of years ago that would have required ISPs to store 5 years worth of data for all their users. It sounds great from one point of view, make it very easy to catch all sorts of online criminals, trace their online movements and associates. The only teensy-weeny problem is that it would cost approximately the whole GDP of the UK to implement, and we'd have to roof over Wales and turn it into a HDD farm.

Of course, some would argue that as a benefit of the scheme

>> everyone has an obligation to make it impossible for people to peddle this sort of stuff

How do you do that when it's still legal in Russia? In the bad old days, if you got caught doing it, the KGB would have a word, and you'd spend your natural in Siberia, counting trees, if you were lucky. So Russia never got round to passing any actual laws against it, and they are a bit busy with other things to be bothered with it now.

>> We all know that it's fairly easy to write an algo that looks for "questionable" terms to do with children

Really? Are you sure about that? I can think of several perfectly legit uses for the term "preteen", and "aisan" for that matter. The number of ads returned for review would still be huge, impossible to manage in any practical way

>It's a question of

>It's a question of practicality

No its not, its a question of profitability, nothing more nothing less.

>> No its not, its a

>> No its not, its a question of profitability

OK, I take your point.... but how many people do you think Google would need to employ just to police AdWords to that standard? 1,000? 2,000? 10,000? It'd be cheaper for Google to setup a private police force to catch the actual perpetrators, rather than try and police it at one (of many) distribution point.

'Google' & 'Private Police Force'

Please don't use those in the same sentence, you might give them ideas for dealing with SEOs.

Paging Commissioner

Paging Commissioner Cutts....

OK, I take your point....

Quote:
OK, I take your point.... but how many people do you think Google would need to employ just to police AdWords to that standard? 1,000? 2,000? 10,000? It'd be cheaper for Google to setup a private police force to catch the actual perpetrators, rather than try and police it at one (of many) distribution point.

And if that's what it takes to stop it then so be it. If you run a commercial business you need to factor these costs in. I don't like paying my administrators and accountants fees (and take my word for them, it aint small) but I do it because I have to for compliance reasons.

Google choose to operate in the PPC market and therefore need to make sure what they do is policed, vetted correctly. If this means the PPC costs go up as a consequence then so be it!

Of course not..

Are ads for CP more acceptable on Google than say on TV or the radio or magazines or newspapers?

Of course they arn't, however you have to see that it's a lot harder to police over the Internet than it is in tradional advertising.

As mentioned previously - the law suit is a publicity stunt and one that I hope will fail. What would be more interesting to know however is if google DID make any money out of these ads and if the publisher details were passed to the relevent authorities.

I'm sure that half the people posting on this thread would moan about how long it takes for ads to be authorized if google had to authorize every single ad in the system, although it still can't be worse than Overture!

if

they can spot inappropriate use of superlatives, they can spot the terms in question. NO excuse for that stuff.

Agreed. I'm not sure that

Agreed. I'm not sure that difficulties in obeying the law caused by one's business model or its scalability are a defensible legal argument.

Imagine yourself arguing that: hey, it's too difficult, too expensive, too time-consuming or just too much trouble to comply with the law. Not sure it would fly. ;)

>however you have to see

>however you have to see that it's a lot harder to police over the Internet than it is in tradional advertising.

In what way?

>> hey, it's too difficult,

>> hey, it's too difficult, too expensive, too time-consuming or just too much trouble to comply with the law

That's already an established part of US law. If compliance with discovery requests would place "undue burden" on a company, for instance, they can ignore those requests. It is a courts duty to interpret the law, not bankrupt businesses.

PPC is a distribution channel, like the phone network. Imagine telcos were required to have a person listen to every conversation on their network, to ensure that no criminal acts were being discussed. Madness

Sure, if they get a complaint, or a police request, they should act on it.... exactly what the PPC providers have done here.

>> >however you have to see that it's a lot harder to police over
>> >the Internet than it is in tradional advertising.

>>In what way?

Traditional advertising is all basically human reviewed already. You submit creative, and the publisher has to process it somehow. AdWords is advertiser driven : you put what you like in, and the machine makes it live. No-one at Google has to see it before users do. That's one of the reasons that online advertising is so cheap, a lot of expensive man hours are taken out of the cost base

I knew they didn't human

I knew they didn't human review everything, but I always assumed they human reviewed at least spot reviewed the adult stuff. It seems stupid not to.

human review

is done all the time, I know that weenie spam reports get attention and action, trotting out some dip with hidden text is the important thing but when it comes to $$, DO no evil to my bottom line.

Hiding behind the tech YOU created is no excuse.

This is similar to the

This is similar to the ruling handed down in Germany regarding a web forum owner's responsibility for the forum's content. The ruling claimed that a forum owner is responsible for libelous content.

It forces the owner to regulate membership more carefully. In this same vein, Google will have to regulate its AdWords membership as some web forums do: all members go through a probation period and are then ranked at different levels of trust over time and number of transactions.

Google Images

I don't know the answer to this, and I am not about to try, but I assume that if you searched for those types of images in Google Images you would not get the sort of images we are talking about?

It isn't that hard.

but how many people do you think Google would need to employ just to police AdWords to that standard?

Probably the same amount as Overture/Yahoo. It isn't rocket science. They've been using human editorial revue before an ad is allowed to go live since PPC was first invented.

Two Options Have Been Available For Years

Both the ASACP and the ICRA have been trying to tackle the issue of child pornograpy and search engine content for the past three or four years. They have been unable to get consenses on an industry wide standard for this stuff. However there are standards and common practices for search engines and PPC providers that have been set and can work in conjunction to clean up the mess.

Content rating meta tags and word filters can be used to spot this kind of content easily. Reviewing PPC ads before publication (which many PPC's do) is also a good method of spotting and reporting this kind of styff to the FBI. During my time at Kanoodle we had a working relationship with both the ASACP and the FBI and turned over numerous sites that were abusive to children. I had a direct hand in working with Joan Irvine at the ASACP to get Kanoodle up to par on their standards. Whether Kanoodle still follows those practices today I have no idea.

Any search engine should adopt the ASACP's and ICRA's simple standards and practices to help curb this problem. It's a simple process and one that goes a long way to keep their index on the "up and up".

The Wild West Coming to an End?

I think the days of yore are coming to an end. At some point, the providers are going to be forced into exercising editorial control over advertising. If they don't, then we will be discussing more topics like this. Putting the cart before the horse just won't cut it anymore. It's time for some quality control and not only in the adult sector. QC on advertising is the next big ticket item.

Image results

On a preliminary glance, it looks like the image results are reasonably well-policed. Which suggests the PPC results could be easily handled algorithmically as well. With the advantage of credit card account details for every offender. A nuisance but nothing like the 10,000 (or even 1000) extra employees TallTroll is suggesting.

Moreover, Google could just start a direct feed of questionable ads to the Attorney General's office which would then have to take action on what it didn't like (excluding, investigating). In that way, Google would be in compliance and they would have off-loaded the workload on the taxpayer.

I think if google looses this lawsuit

it opens the doors for a lawsuit for any link on any forum, any blog comment, any resyndication of an RSS, and even a link that changes later to child porn.

Think about it, can you ALWAYS police every link on every site you have . . . forever?

The standard should and must be reasonable effort - not everything possable.

>>I think

Think a little harder. Making absurd connections is easy. Ilustrated quite well, thank you.

>>The standard should and must be reasonable effort

Define reasonable. If you can, then you know that Google can make a 'reasonable effort' and kill the 'problem'.

Sorry

Sorry Googlites, but when it comes to ads involving child pornography, "trying" just doesn't cut it. There is no excuse for ads to come up anytime. If you can't review the millions of ads that go up, then find another business.

The excuse is weak. Can a bar say they let in minors because they serve a lot of people and can't hire enough bouncers? Can a nude photographer say he shoots so many girls that he can't look at all their IDs? If you can't uphold the law and stay in business, it's time to close up shop. I'm not about to shed tears over a billion dollar company that can't hire an editorial staff to review more ads.

thePhenomenal is right. When

thePhenomenal is right. When child porn ads are involved no excuse's acceptable. A company that's worth billions of dollars and that recruits the most brilliant minds in the world (that's what they like to say) shoudn't act this way.

Also, they already hired thousands of employees, so I don't see the problem hiring some more for some editorial control over those ads.

That's the business model THEY chose to follow, and if it's getting out of their control, we should all be pretty much worried about it.

They are all genius after all no? Those ads are a good proof of it.

recruits the most brilliant

recruits the most brilliant minds in the world (that's what they like to say)

The cover letter of their most recent investor prospectus says:

I normally take the time to review every offer we make. The quality of the new Googlers we are able to attract is amazing (Sergey and I are certain we would not meet the quality bar to be hired as engineers at Google today, as our programming skills are kind of weak by current standards).

Automation

Google's problem is simply the fact that they rely on an automated process for new ads. Although they do manual review AFTER the ads are accepted I'm sure they do not review everything. Didn't they drop ads for "online poker" awhile back? I see a few of this casino ads up today. From Friday night through Monday morning you can advertise absolutely anything you want on their ad system if you can get it by their "filters".

Manual review must be put into place at Google before ads are accepted. They should also review any and all ad changes including the URL's if those get changed.

To my knowledge they still rely on an automated process. Phenom is absolutely correct when it comes to ads. Policing actual indexed content is a little harder to do. Still webmasters could help by using content ratings meta tags available from the ICRA.org web site here:

http://www.icra.org/webmasters/
http://www.icra.org/label/

Whether or not the search engines obey these tags I can't specifically say. Yet our job as site owners and webmarketers should include this kind of thing regardless I think. I'm not sure whether my sites still have the labels. I know they used to but several design changes later means I need to check again. This issue just serving as a reminder.

not that I like CP, but...

Even if they review the URLs and everything that still does not prevent people from baiting and switching the contents of the landing page AFTER the approval.

Agreed but it can be checked

with an ad spider that will look at the contents of advertised landing pages and check the cached version of the approved page to find any new changes. If a change was found the spider automatically boots the ad back into the review queue.

It can be done, and in a way that would auto credit any clicks that the spider would make - plus alert the advertiser to that activity in order to provide disclosure and peoper accounting.

There are ways to make sure a landing page that was placed remains what it is supposed to be.

> If a change was found the

> If a change was found the spider automatically boots the ad back into the review queue.

many pages change on every onload. some pages would need constant review.

True, but....

a spider can be programmed to accomidate that. Spidering is a method that could be used effectively for this.

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