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Google AdSense 'whistleblower' accuses company of fraud, fund theft

updated 03:18 pm EDT, Wed April 30, 2014

Purported timeline alleges advertising host mistreatment since 2009

An individual who purports to be an ex-Google AdSense employee is claiming that the search engine is intentionally blocking payments to otherwise-deserving websites. The person making the claims posted a document to Pastebin on Tuesday alleging proof, with a timeline spanning 2009 through 2012, that Google gives preferential treatment to some sites, and shuts down other sites and keeps the money accumulated.

Google AdSense allows publishers in the Google Network of content sites to serve automatic text, image, video, or interactive media advertisements that are targeted to site content and audience. These advertisements are administered, sorted, and maintained by Google, and they can generate revenue on either a per-click or per-impression basis. The program has been running since 2003 in one form or another.

Google categorically denies the claims saying that the document is "a complete fiction." Google admits to shutting down some sites, to "stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users." Google's policy on a website shutdown is to refund any accumulated funds in a shuttered account to the advertiser, and not to company coffers.

The document alleging proof of Google's misbehavior claims that "We were told to go and look into the publishers accounts, and if any publisher had accumulated earnings exceeding $5000 and was near a payout or in the process of a payout, we were to ban the account right away and reverse the earnings back."

The ex-employee goes on to claim that the employees "felt really uneasy about the whole thing, but we were threatened with job losses if we didn't enforce the company's wishes. Those who voiced concerned or issue were basically ridiculed with 'not having the company's best interest in mind' and not being 'team players.'"

Google employee Matt Cutts said on Hacker News that "I can tell you from personal experience that the terminology is incorrect and the allegations are completely at odds with my direct experience. I'm also hearing multiple, strong confirmations from the ads side that this post is completely fake."

by MacNN Staff



  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    Assuming that a lot of people who read this are not Google fans, be careful about believing these allegations just because they fit (y)our preconceived notions about Google. Powerful allegations require powerful proof.

    Having typed all that, I am curious how this all plays out..

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 09-06-01

    in other words, use a modicum of skepticism unlike the fools who rushed to Cliven Bundy's defense.

  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 11-03-09

    Originally Posted by azrichView Post

    Assuming that a lot of people who read this are not Google fans, .

    I am a Google fan. I however, don't listen to everything Sergey and Larry say and take it for gospel. I always keep an objective ear.
    All it takes is 1 disgruntled (ex)employee to spout out lies and the haters like the ones on this board will jump on the bandwagon, no questions asked.

    I too am curious as to how this plays out.

  1. beb

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 01-29-02


  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Hopefully the CA state attorney will determine if there's any "there" there and, if so, investigate.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    I suspect that this will play out the way it always does. Google said what they had to say, and that will be the end of it. Right or wrong, that's how things like this with them seem to go.

  1. azrich

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-19-10

    Don't let it fade away like so many stories :)

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: 07-05-06

    It's interesting, though - is there not a way for the websites to see for themselves the number of clicks and impressions? If Google just keeps the accounts and is in charge of all behind closed doors, there's room for trouble.

    Sounds pretty unlikely, but not impossible. I can't imagine something like this coming from the top - it would have to be a rogue manager who wanted to inflate profits to earn a bigger bonus. Still pretty unlikely.

  1. SierraDragon

    Mac Elite

    Joined: 03-22-04

    "...I can't imagine something like this coming from the top."

    Personally I can't imagine something like this NOT coming from the top. This is the firm that drove around the entire planet collecting all our MAC addresses complete with precise GPS data and then databased them for GOOGLE's commercial purposes. Sorry but IMO the folks at Google have proven themselves evil multiple times over.

    Ask yourself what is Google's business model? Answer: find ways to collect personal data and then find ways to sell that personal data for Google's gain. Google is not your friend. Many firms collect data but that is Google's primary monetization. Google really is a bad entity.

  1. shawnde

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-01-08

    I'm with SierraDragon on this one ..... google is a lot sneakier than most people think. They do great PR work, but underneath that, it's all dark. They're playing Microsoft's strategy book of the 1990's Page by Page (all the pun intended).

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