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Google kills Anonymous AdSense account

How Scientology funded the anti-Scientology movement

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Exclusive Google has murdered the AdSense account run by one of the web's most influential anti-Scientology sites.

Yesterday, the search giant cut off all ads served to Enturbulation, a fledgling site dedicated to promoting activism against the Church of Scientology and all its related organizations. This could have something do with the nature of the ads Google was serving. Many of the Google-driven ads funding the anti-Scientology site were paid for by the Church of Scientology.

"While going through our records recently, we found that your AdSense account has posed a significant risk to our AdWords advertisers," read Google's letter to Enturbulation, a kind of home base for the now famous Anonymous movement. "Since keeping your account in our publisher network may financially damage our advertisers in the future, we've decided to disable your account."

Of course, it's not Enturbulation's fault that Google was serving the site pro-Scientology ads. AdSense automatically chooses ads based on a site's content. And like any AdSense advertiser, the Church of Scientology has the power to ban its ads from individual domains.

Google did not respond to our requests for comment. But it should be noted that the company's new AdSense policies say that partner sites may not include "advocacy against any individual, group, or organization."

That said, Google's terms and conditions also prohibit "any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues Google’s reputation or goodwill." And this isn't always enforced. The Register, for instance, is an AdSense user, and it doesn't always champion Google's every move.

It should also be noted that the Church of Scientology wouldn't actually pay for ads posted to Enturbulation unless someone clicked on them. The question is whether the site's users would be interested in doing so. We leave that question to you.

Meanwhile, Enturbulation may lose between $400 and $500 a month in ad revenue.

Google's crackdown on Enturbulation's AdSense account follows similar actions by its YouTube subsidiary. Last month, the world's most popular video site vaporized an account run by Mark Bunker, a well-known TV journalist/anti-Scientology activist.

YouTube said it destroyed Bunker's video channel because he'd already had an account suspended for violations of site policy. But it seems this rule does not apply to the Church of Scientology. ®

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