Censorship: Why, How and for Whom

Lately many of us have been feeling the boundaries of what we are allowed to write about in different forums. I am a firm believer in freedom of the press, but as a proponent of the free market, I also understand that you actually have to own a press in order to have the freedom to use it. In other words, publish whatever you want at your own expense.

I agreed to abide by the rules at Hubpages, because Hubpages gives me a place to publish free of charge. That seems fair, right?

But the truth was that when I used to look at the list of topics that were forbidden: explicit sex, gambling, promoting internet fraud, I didn't feel any great desire to write on those topics, so I didn't feel in any way hemmed in by the rules.

Lately, both on Hubpages and off, I'm beginning to feel a little more beleaguered, and it seems as if some of my fellow Hubbers have been feeling the squeeze as well.

In Case There's a Fox

The email I got
The email I got

Believing myself to be well within the rules and not even remotely pushing the boundaries, I was truly shocked when I received notice that one of my hubs was in violation of TOS. The Google notice read as follows:

Hello,

While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as
http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Secret-to-Making-Money-on-Hubpages. Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of your website.

As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on sites with content related to programs offering
incentives to cl!ck l!nks or ads, r**d emails, or s^rf other websites.
This would include, for instance, aut0-s^rf s!tes, p*y-to-r**d email
networks, and sites comparing various p*y-t0-cl1ck programs.

As a result, we have disabled ad serving to the site.

Your AdSense account remains active. However, we strongly suggest that you take the time to review our program policies
(https://www.google.com/adsense/policies ) to ensure that all of your remaining pages are in compliance.


Please note that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team


In Case There's a Fox

Now that particular hub was an account of how I failed to thrive on Hubpages by making the stupid mistake of not inputting my PIN for Adsense and thereby not getting any revenue during a period when I might have been earning.

I asked around to see what I might have done wrong. I disabled a link to another person's hub that was also not in violation, but might have triggered the Google robots. I waited several months to see if Google would change their mind. I got the opinions of several seasoned hubbers who know what they are doing.The general consensus seems to be that while my hub is not really in violation, that's not what matters. What matters is what the Google robots think, because their opinion is the only one that counts. You can't argue with a robot!

"Is it really worth it to jeopardize your entire account with one hub?" the experts asked.

Well, I guess not. I wouldn't want to miss the chance of earning one hundred and seven dollars every two years! So, I unpublished that hub.

In Case There's a Fox

Traffic and Earnings

This is not about money. I recognize that I need Google because they generate the majority of my traffic. If I didn't have ads, I wouldn't have traffic. So I can't afford to earn the ire of the robots. At the same time, as a flesh and blood human being, with feelings and all that, I'm getting a little alienated by what seems like the same sort of behavior that every bureaucracy, governmental or not, ends up spawning.

So what should I do? Seek out the competition. See if some other service provider might allow me to publish the hub that Google found so objectionable. With that end in mind, I republished my hub on Weebly.com under the heading of Google Discards. The address there, (and no, I will not provide a link, because that would be a sin against Google) is discardedbygoogle at weebly.com.

Google is the Only Game in Town

My new site is up there, but it gets no traffic. It hasn't even been indexed, I think. So the next step was to try to find a different network to sign up with, something just like Adsense, only belonging to someone else.

What I've learned so far is that there is no competition. Yahoo has a program that is not open to the general public. Microsoft doesn't even offer anything. If Google is the only real possibility, then isn't it clear why they don't have to consider our opinions at all? Isn't it true that the only way to get respect is to earn it by pushing back as hard as you get pushed?

If there isn't an alternative, shouldn't we all get together and make one?


(c) 2010 Aya Katz

In Case There's a Fox

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Comments 33 comments

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

I'm sure everyone wishes there were an alternative - or many alternatives. We need competition - but the fact is, there's no alternative on the horizon right now. There will always be exceptions like this one hub of yours, Aya - but on the whole, when you write keeping the guidelines in mind, AdSense is pretty good.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Shalini, thanks for your comment. I react very strongly against anything that smacks of "arbitrary and capricious", that's just the way I am. On the other hand, I do want to be realistic and not cut myself off at the knees. So I plan to maintain sites that are powered by Google and that carry Google Adsense, but I also want to have sites that are not, where I can be free with my content. This is not because I want to write anything dirty or ugly, but because I want to fight injustice wherever I find it.

Now, can we allow a search engine to be number one when it hides the sites that are in competition with it? Ultimately, is that good business?


Aya 6 years ago

In a world of publish or die it would behoove the publishing to have more than one option. Seriously, 53.50$ a year does not cover the cost of Internet access much less your time. While I do not agree with free reign to publish smut, porn or terrioristic comments censorship is hard to manage. Freedom of press is freedom of press or it isn't. Very much black or white, no shades of gray. Almost anything imprint will incite someone. I suppose that is why we have Internet filters that we can control.

I would have to agree with freedom of press for all even though I do not believe somethings should be published. Sadly the morality of mankind is such that censorship is on the rise. I truely wish that we could heal the sickness in the minds of the perverse.

FYI: please excuse spelling errors. Spelling is not my fortey.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Hmmm... Do you just happen to have the same name as I do? Thanks for your comment, whoever you are! I believe it is okay for the owner of the press to censor those who use it. I just think that it would not be a good idea for there to be only one press in the world! So, if the one we have right now doesn't work for us, we should build another and another, until every idea has a chance to be heard.


Lisa 6 years ago

Sorry name was to you not from you. Learn dething new everyday


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Thanks for the clarification, Lisa!


Lisa 6 years ago

The FCC regulates the airways for radio and television. FCC is a government agency so in essence the government is censoring. Not sure if also regulates Internet content. This is of course the same government that gurantees our right to freedom of speech. That was point. I am not sure that any press owner is censoring anything that our government, such that it is, is not enforcing.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Lisa, I see your point. Nevertheless, I'm not sure that governmental intervention has much to do with Google censorship. What is even weirder is this: Google runs ads that are in contravention of its rules about content. When I first published this article, a lot of really nasty ads immediately popped up -- and it was the Google robots that placed them there! So I immediately turned off all ads to this hub. But if you ask me, it's all very strange. It's almost as though the Google robots have dirty minds,reading things into what I write that are not even there, and then I get blamed for how my content is interpreted by a machine!

Even in the days of the FCC regulating soap operas, it was the soap companies that pressured the broadcasters to keep the programs "clean". The viewers wasnted more racy material, and the networks wanted to gratify their desires, but there were special interest pressure groups that terrorized the sponsors into cleaning up the programs. The FCC was the strong arm of the pressure groups, so in that sense, you're right, Lisa.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 6 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Interesting discussion, Aya. I can see that this issue has motivated you in positive ways. I think this is how change happens. Good luck!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Storytellersrus, thanks! If you find an alternative program to adsense, be sure and let me know...


i scribble profile image

i scribble 6 years ago

Interesting topic. And an interesting coincidence, from my perspective, it was the same hub I commented on recently about the pin number issue.(I figured out I'm not even eligible for a pin yet as I've only earned 17 cents!) It is helpful to know that a successful hubber like yourself has only made $100 in 2 years. So thanks for sharing that. Your main motivation must be the same as mine, a love of writing and a sense that you have something worthwhile to say. Even though we disagree on politics, I respect you more than any other hubber I follow.

Do you support net neutrality? I certainly do!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

I Scribble, thanks. That is high praise, indeed!

Yes, I do write primarily because I have something to say and want to share it with others. Now, it's also true that if, while doing this, I could make some money, I wouldn't mind it at all! ;->

I count among my online friends some Hubbers who are much more successful at making money online, and I do not in any way mean to disparage them for their success. In many ways, I try to learn from them and to change my method of doing things to try to improve my earnings, without in any significant way altering my content. Can this be done? I'm not sure.

On the other hand, I really get annoyed with any attempt to shut me up, especially when it does not appear that I've transgressed against the rules we all agreed to abide by. To me, this kind of treatment is akin to breach of contract.

What is "net neutrality"? I won't know whether I support it or not till I find out what is. ;->


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

Aya, I haven't been censored yet, but I thought I was a few weeks ago (a hubber emailed me and asked "what happened, they took down your Gay Proposal hub?!" I got the email on my blackberry and didn't have time to check it out for a while, and I spent the whole time deciding whether to pull all my hubs or not). So far, it's still up as are my others, but I know I get close to something someone can get mad about, so, I am totally with you just on the outrage of the idea (the whole human with feelings thing you mention - nobody wants to be squashed, told they don't matter).

I think you are dead on about the fact that if you own the press, you get to decide what you print. And I think the above comments about of the press miss your point on that. However, monopoly rules seem more relevant here.... somehow. There are competitive companies, as you suggest, but, also as you suggest, they aren't competing effectively. It's sort of the same problem in search engines that I have with shopping at Lowes vs. shopping at some little hardware store. I either get good prices and selection, or have to take bad prices and bad selection to "fight" back knowing full well the masses are going to go to Lowes and use Google. So, what's the point paying more for less, or writing poignantly to be unread.

I will probably write a novel about this soon and ad that to the things that don't get read either. LOL.

I wish there was a way to get views without being beholden to the almighty dollar/power, but I just don't think that happens.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Shadesbreath, I'm glad you haven't been censored. You add just the right note of irreverence in you hubs on the "social issue" of the day.

It's true that some of my commentators kind of missed the property rights part of freedom of the press, while getting the part about being censored. However, some of them seem to have known more about the government's (or goverments' plural) involvement in Google's policies than I did. I've added a link below to a hub about this by Tony074.

The monopoly angle is not unrelated to the government involvement, I think. As long as there are many competitors in the marketplace, not only do we all have more choices, but it's also harder for the government to take over. Once there is only one giant service provider, it's easier for a government to step in and start running it.

As good as Google's search engine algorithms seem to be, they leave a lot to be desired. They really are NOT able to identify the topic of a piece without plenty of SEO hints from the writer. There is a wonderful opening here for the right kind of AI software developer to outdo Google.

Can't wait to read your novel!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

BTW, I meant Tony0724. I hate it when anyone gets part of a name wrong, even if it is numerical!


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 6 years ago from California

I checked that one out too. Frankly, it just points out to how important it is to pay attention to this stuff. I'm like him, I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist, because Chicken Little is annoying, but, the technology is all there for 1984 meets the Matrix metaphors.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

I'm basically against censorship. Free speach is however most threatened not by governments but by the centralisation of power, espcially in the world of mass media, in the hands of fewer and fewer commercial organisations. And Google is a very good example of this. As are things like the Murdoch empire. These are the real threats to free speach and monopoly capitalism is the worst threat.

Competition can help free speach but at the end of the day decisions about what to print or not print, what to encourage on the Net or what to discourage, become commercial decisions - will it sell, will it make the shareholdres more money, etc? Considerations of artistic merit and freedom have little part to play, except in exceptional situations.

Thanks for an interesting discussion.

Love and peace

Tony


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Shadesbreath, yeah, I don't want to be too paranoid, either, but I have to admit that there is something to this... Or at least the definite possibility of something.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Tonymac04, we can't have free speech without property rights. I hate censorship, too, but wouldn't you hate it if somebody tried to publish some piece of dogma that you disagree with at your expense?

Centralization of power in government is something that we counter with checks and balances. Centralization of power in the marketplace should be countered by free competition.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Should be, but usually isn't. Unfortunately it seems to me that capitalism leads, almost invevitably, to more and more centralisation of commercial power. How many auto manufacturers were there before World War 2 and how many are there now? Just for example. Or how many companies had interests in mass media at the end of the war and how many now? In both cases the numbers are shrinking and so competition is also shrinking.

Governments are relatively more easy to control as they depend on the consent of the governed. Corporations are outside of control by the ordinary voters and make thier decisions based on purely commercial factors, which are often inimical to individual freedoms like access to information.

I'm not sure why you mention property rights as I did not mention them in my comment and have no problem with them. And I confess I don't see a necessary link to freedom of speach?

Love and peace

Tony


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Tonymac, thanks for coming back for a second round.

You may be right that capitalism leads inevitably to more centralization, but free enterprise does not. Did you know that capitalism and free enterprise aren't the same thing?

Read my hub about the corporate entity:

http://hubpages.com/politics/The-Corporate-Entity


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Sorry - can't find my way through the words! My understanding of capitalism was that it depended on free enterprise to function. Is that not what the "hidden hand" is all about?

I'm just looking at what I see around me and it is of corporations using the power they get by the accumulation of wealth to manipulate society to the detriment of the ordinary person and to the limitation of freedom. We have a lot of choice on the surface - I can choose between deodorant A, B, C, and on almost ad inifinitum, but they are all made by branches of the same corporation, so the competition is really manufactured by branding and not real competition. It is a manipulated situation to increase sales by a kind of sham competition.

The same goes for information - I can choose to read paper A, paper B - and so on, but they are all owned by the same corporation again. And that corporation uses its power to control what the editors put into the papers. So editorial control and independence is lost. And we loose out because we don't get the spread of info that we are entitled to. We only get what the corporations bosses think it's safe or OK for us to get.

So whatever the name we call it we all are disadvantaged by it. And the poor get poorer and lose yet more power. And the gap between those who have and those who don't gets bigger. This is what is happening and I can't see that free enterprise is going to be any better for us,. the people, than capitalism.

And about democracy - I think that Churchill said it best - democracy is the worst form of governemnt except for the rest (I paraphrase, of course).

Thanks for the discussion but now it's bed time!

Love and peace

Tony


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Tonymac, capitalism is an economic system where large amounts of capital are accumulated by a small number of entities and the workers do not own the means of production. Free enterprise is an economic system where individuals are free to own property and decide for themselves what work they will do, what goods they will trade and what prices they will charge. Not all forms of capitalism are free enterprise. Not all forms of free enterprise are capitalism.

Under free enterprise, individuals have rights, but collective groups do not. Hence corporations are not entitled to limited liability or any other privilege that individuals do not have in their own right.

But this is off-topic here on this hub, so if you'd like to continue the discussion read "The Corporate Entity."

http://hubpages.com/politics/The-Corporate-Entity

Read it first, then leave your comments on that hub! Thanks.


i scribble profile image

i scribble 6 years ago

Net neutrality refers to the open or "free" internet as it has been since its inception, without service providers limiting accessible websites or making some slower to get to. The big corps., Time Warner, Verizon, AT&T are lobbying to control customer's access to websites, and there is a piece of legislation proposed to prevent this. Go to Savetheinternet.com to learn more if you're interested in keeping the web an equal opportunity free press medium.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

I Scribble, thanks for the information. To tell you the truth, I am not really sure who is responsible for keeping the world wide web running. Anyway, I'll look into and get back to you when I know more about it.


kaja_mel profile image

kaja_mel 6 years ago from Saraland, AL

Thanks for the info. This was just what I needed.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Kaja_mel, thanks!


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

Aya that is just plain bizarre. I think I have a pin code for Google but I am not really very proficient with my Computer skills so I just hope I am doing the right thing. And I think you write very Intelligent hubs. And I would also like to thank you for linking my hub to yours.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Tony0724, thanks! I hope you managed to input your PIN okay. When I first started out on Hubpages I was focused entirely on the writing and extremely naive about the business model. I still have a lot to learn, and the unwritten rules of what we are or are not allowed to do are even more intriguing than the written ones.

Glad to link your hub on censorship. I don't read the major newspapers, so it's good that you are keeping me informed!


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

At least you got a warning they disabled my adsense account without a warning...I had to learn the hard way...I have appealed and I doubt I will ever get my account back.

I have been enjoying your hubs...Thanks for sharing this info.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Tammy, I'm sorry to hear about what happened to your adsense account. I hope you are able to overcome the bureaucratic inertia and get reinstated.


ratelines profile image

ratelines 6 years ago

Interesting topic and timing. Just found a "hate" site is on our hosting and pulling everyone down. Contacting HGator next! Censorship time.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks Author

Ratelines, thanks. This hate site, I assume, is not on Hubpages?

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