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Google recaptures $761 from Facebook nemesis

If you badmouth us, we'll play hardball

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After it was successfully sued in small claims court by a man who says he invented Facebook, Google has appealed the decision, returned to court, and persuaded a judge to return its $761.

In March, famous Facebook nemesis Aaron Greenspan sued Google in a North California court, claiming that Google terminated his AdSense account without explanation and failed to pay him the $721 he was owned for ad clicks on his website. A judge ruled in favor of Greenspan, awarding him the $721 plus $40 in court costs.

As Greenspan says in a recent piece on The Huffington Post, a Google paralegal soon sent him an email indicating the Mountain View Chocolate Factory was poised to cut him a check. But after Greenspan recounted the suit and questioned the company's practices in an earlier Post post, Google decided to appeal.

Apparently, Google succeeded in getting the ruling overturned. According to court papers, the company is no longer required to pay that $761.

Aaron Greenspan first made headlines back in the fall of 2007 and the spring of 2008 after claiming that he created Facebook at Harvard - not Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and not the founders of ConnectU, who recently won a $60 million settlement in suing Zuckerberg and company for allegedly copying their idea.

And he's returned to the headlines with his Google suit. His original $761 went all the way to The New York Times.

The way Greenspan tells it, Google terminated his AdSense account because he violated the company's terms of service, serving up ads from a site devoid of content and pointing surfers to those ads with the phrase "pick a link."

Greenspan did indeed violate the terms of service. He doesn't deny it. But in typical Google fashion, this is Google choosing to crack down rogue ad partners only when it suits the company's immediate interests. As Greenspan points out, just two days after the company terminated his account, Google opened up its yes-we-do-evil AdSense for Domains service to world+dog.

AdSense for Domains is meant specifically for parked domains - i.e. domains devoid of content. It's a haven for typosquatters.

Meanwhile, in an effort to get its $761 back, Google's legal team resorted to a vague personal attack on Greenspan - according to Greenspan. Greenspan says that a Google lawyer questioned him about various essays posted to one of his website, implying he had sold them to cheaters:

"Do you sell essays to college students?" the lawyer asked.

"What?" I asked him, confused.

"You sell pre-written essays for college students, right? Like term papers?"

"No!" I said, finally realizing where he was going. "I don't know where you would have even gotten that idea." Little did he know that he had hit a sore spot, since I had recently written a book about education at America's "top schools" and the many problems therein, cheating among them.

Though at that point I should have asked him how often he beat his wife, I was too shocked to think of it. Google has more access to information about people than virtually any company on the planet, yet despite its vast resources, it found it more prudent to fabricate disparaging innuendo about me before a judge.

In any event, it would appear that someone was so proud of Google winning its $761 back they sent a screenshot of Greenspan's terms of service violations to Search Engine Land.

It's safe to say that Google doesn't want anyone else suing them over a terminated AdSense account. "What if everyone whose account was canceled sued Google?" that Google paralegal allegedly said when Greenspan first took the company to court. ®

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