Someone shut down our Adsense account

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Unless you use adblock, then you have definitely seen advertisement from Google while browsing our website. These ads, from Google’s Adsense program, help us pay for our server space, to pay the tech guy managing the site and to pay for the online security programs that we have set up. Despite the small size of our site, you’d be surprised at how many spam bots and hacking attempts we deal with on a daily basis. I imagine other websites with somewhat controversial opinions deal with the same.

Well today, you have the chance to browse AgeOfShitlords without seeing any ads, because those ads just aren’t there. Someone decided to take them away.

I am told he/she used a technique called “Adsense sabotage”, also known as “Click Bombing”.

You see, there are people out there who are ever always trying to beat Google’s Advertisement system. These people create robots designed to visit their website and click on literally thousands of ads at a time, giving Adsense the impression that thousands of people were clicking on them. The idea is to generate thousands of fake traffic, intended to inflate their revenue.

To deal with people like these, Google has a system in place to detect these invalid clicks. Multiple clicks from the same IP address will get your Adsense account banned in minutes. This is Google we’re talking about. If you’re using a bot, they’ll detect it eventually and they’ll disable your account.

While this system seems like a good idea (I mean, who doesn’t want online spammers to be dealt with), it also gave birth to a new evil: sabotage.

If you want to shut down a website’s Adsense account and source of revenue, all you need to do is create one of these bots or find one online, direct it towards the website and boom.

Adsense gets the impression that the person is trying to beat the system, and bans them.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning, checked my email and saw this:

adsense-1

I checked with the tech guy managing the site and his explanation was exactly what I had expected. The  amount of money we had earned today had well exceeded the amount we should be earning for today’s traffic. Someone had intentionally used a spam bot to click on the ads on our site, causing Adsense to disable our account.

I appealed the decision and explained what was going on, got this reply back two hours later:

reply

They reviewed the appeal in less than 3 hours and refused to reinstate our Adsense account. This decision was no doubt made by an automated bot or someone who didn’t bother to investigate the issue.

Google’s own product policy states that they are well aware that sabotage is a thing that happens quite often.

Google however says there is no way to determine which clicks are from people trying to beat the system and which ones are an attempt at sabotage. Google wants us to take responsibility for everything that someone does while on our site (literally how is this even remotely possible?):

“We understand that a third party may generate invalid activity on your ads without your knowledge or permission. This can be done in two ways:

  • Manually: the party generates the activity himself, or encourages others to do so
  • Automatically: the party uses some sort of automated process, such as a click bot

Because this kind of activity doesn’t reflect genuine user interest in the ads, we’re constantly improving our detection systems to identify these patterns and filter them as invalid. Learn more about how Google prevents invalid activity.

However, ultimately it is the publisher’s responsibility to ensure that the activity on his or her ads is valid”

Translation: Fuck you.

“If someone is trying to shut you down, we’re not going to try to stop it. If anything, we’ll just ignore it and pretend nothing happened. Fuck all the work you put into the site and all the revenue you have earned so far, that’s all gone m8.”

– Google Adsense.