The real reason for Googles Youtube cleanup: they're violating US Treasury Department terror fundraising sanctions

Adland: 

Remember when Google had to forfeit $500 Million generated by online ads & prescription drug sales by "Canadian" online pharmacies? I 'member. Well it looks like Google is in a worse bind right now as the always sharp-eyed Trichordist observes. When Google's ads are displayed on ISIS or Hezbollah channels, they are paying out ad revenue to terrorists groups. Thereby funding terrorism.

That's not just illegal, that's the go straight to jail kind of illegal. The Register has observed Google Adsense pre-rolls for drones - of all things - on a Hezbollah channel. And much like how cockroaches vanish when you turn on the light, channels found in this way will vanish the minute you ask Google about them - I've seen this phenomena as well.

We asked Google for details of the revenue share with the individual or organisation running the Hezbollah channel, but have yet to hear a reply. In fact, within an hour of alerting them to the ads, The Party of Allah YouTube channel had been "terminated for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines".

Last week The Times UK caught up to the story and wrote that "that some of the world’s biggest brands are unwittingly funding Islamic extremists, white supremacists and pornographers by advertising on their websites." But it's not just that name brand ads can be found on extremist and terror organisation videos that are turning the brands off, it's the fact that the buyers have finally realized that digital paid media is a scam where 180 million can be funnelled away on bots instead of viewers.

Companies are concerned that they are paying huge mark-ups for digital promotion and receiving “crappy advertising” in return. Leaked documents from one “top-six” agency show that about 40 per cent of its advert-buying income in 2015 came from hidden kickbacks as well as from “other income”. One source said this mainly derived from mark-ups applied to digital commercials.

Since the global brands have decided to shun Google, Youtube content creators have come out in full force to protest and threaten "mass exodus" from the platform, while claiming they are the victims of censorship because they can no longer monetize their videos. I did warn that when Google became the largest ad platform dictating both price and payment, then Google via the economic incentive could also dictate what would populate the web, years ago. A side effect that may not have been planned but was obvious.

Because clickbait blogs was the easiest to create, clickbait media was born and you all saw how well that went. All news is now infotainment and serious media are trying their best to lure readers back into the subscription system that previously worked. Google is making the web poorer with the help of millions of digital serfs, and pirates, handing them their content.

Adage are crediting Eric Feinberg from Gipec for the current brand panic pulling away from Google advertising. Feinberg is co-owner of a patent for a "computerized system and method for detecting fraudulent or malicious enterprises." The idea being that Feinberg's system can detect keywords and coding linked to terrorism and hate speech, and spot if a brand is advertising alongside of such nefarious content.


They have a patented method of comparing a ratio of the total size in bytes of an entire website and the number of lines of code in the website with known illegitimate websites. This seems like something Google themselves can already do. But Feinberg claims otherwise:

"I have a database of thousands of words and phrases linked to nefarious activity."
One is a Serbian word roughly transliterated as "hanwa," which has been co-trending with jihadist content online. YouTube Red, YouTube's ad-free subscription service, advertised its movie "The Thinning" on one such "hanwa" video on Saturday, according to a link and screen shot he sent.

смиље? Ксерантхемум? Are we blocked now? Just testing.

It's possible that Google would violate Feinberg's patent if they use a similar method to find the bad ad actors on their own platform, I don't know I'm not a patent lawyer. It's also possible that this is a great time to PR his system to get new clients, and be bought out by Google themselves. What's more interesting to me is that we're seeing Google plug the holes in the dam only after the village has been flooded, again. But this time with such speed it seems they might actually be concerned that someone could go to jail for funding terrorism. They can delete channels all they want, the internet always remembers.

Meanwhile the Youtube creators are upset for being cut out of the monetisation scheme due to discussing topics that may or may not be controversial. Make a video about how terrible ISIS is, and the algorithm confuses it with an actual ISIS video. Critique pornography from a radfem perspective, and the algorithm classifies it as pornography. That Google could cut you out of the ad-money deal was always part of the contract. We've been there. Thrice. And all we did was say some lingerie ads sucked, which made us classified as "pornography." Like I told Google then, allowing for a separate "mature content" classification would open up for both brands and publishers. There are topics that aren't appropriate for children, but the entire web can't be Disney-approved.

The writing seems to be on the wall. It's high time independent content creators bartered their sponsorship deals outside of the Google walls - and outside their platform (as the Youtube TOS will not allow you to take outside sponsorships). There's subscription services like Patreon growing out there, with the main risk being that they too have a Terms Of Service, which can change at any time and you are bound to it. While you use their service they'll skim a little off the top of everything you earn, of course.

Meanwhile anyone sick of online ads showing up on every device that is on your home network should just head to pi-hole.net and curl -sSL https://install.pi-hole.net | bash

about the author

Dabitch Creative Director, CEO, hell-raising sweetheart and editor of Adland. Globetrotting Swede who has lived and worked in New York, London, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Leave a comment