Google has been censoring news for long. There are many posts, news and articles that appeared and at Google on numerous occasions.
These negative SEO techniques are also responsible for poor growth and bad search reflection of many genuine, hard working and original content creating websites. For instance, contents lifted from these original blogs frequently appear at splogs and Google punishes the original blog owner for the wrong doing of the splogger. In fact negative SEO and splogs are the main reasons why Google censors and manipulates SERPs, news and blog results.
Due to negative SEO Google believes that a genuine and original website is engaging in spam and link exchange behaviour but in reality this is not true. But Google still punishes the original and genuine website due to bad and malicious behaviour of others.
Now it seems Google has taken artificial and unnatural links seriously and has issued notifications to website owners to remove artificial, unnatural and paid links. But Google has still not explained how a genuine and original source website owner can get his own copyrighted contents removed from platforms over which neither Google nor the copyright owned content website has any control whatsoever.
The Google artificial and unnatural links strategy is still far from perfect as it has many shortcomings. Further, the DMCA procedure adopted by Google is also slow due to tremendous volume of DMCA complaints.
However, the worst nightmare while dealing with Google is that Google is not willing to take down splogs, contents farms and bad neighbourhoods even when there is clear evidence provided to it in this regard. If a single post is removed after DMCA complaint, the splog would pick posts of other blogs and it would still remain active.
When there is a clear case of continuous and persistent copyright violation by a single individual or organisation, deleting a single post is not the right approach. Google and Posterous have failed to realise this fact while TypePad is doing the right thing.
It would be better if both Google and Posterous removes the offending blogs than the posts alone as a single individual or organisation that is manipulating many platforms does not deserve to remain on the platform. However, for the time being, these splogs, content farms and bad neighbourhoods are fooling Google and Posterous.
This is the reason that search engines like Google regularly take action against splogs, contents farms and bad neighbourhoods. Till now Google’s strategy in this regard was to silently demote these splogs, contents farms and bad neighbourhoods either through algorithms like Panda update or through manual action penalty.
However, by and larger, Google has been defeated by these splogs, contents farms and bad neighbourhoods. If this is not enough, the genuine, hard working and original content producers are punished for the evil deed of these splogs, content farms and bad neighbourhoods. Presently, Google cannot differentiate between original content producers and splogs and at times punishes the original source in its SERPs and search results.
Even after a valid DMCA notice to Google in this regard, Google takes 5 to 7 days to resolve copyright violation claims. This policy and method of Google needs to be changed as soon as possible. Even this policy of Google is illegal as per the Indian cyber law that does not allow such long period to Google and other Internet intermediaries to take corrective and appropriate action.
The only good thing about this entire episode is that now Google has started sending warning messages to websites/blog owners about artificial or unnatural links pointing towards their websites/blogs. We have been doing a herculean task of doing this on our own so far regarding our own websites/blogs and this notification system of Google may save many hours of labour on our part.
Google has recently sent such messages to many webmasters informing them of the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines violations. The idea is to check manipulation of Google’s PageRank. For example, buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link exchange schemes violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
However, Google is still unable to punish splogs, contents farms and bad neighbourhoods that deliberately use negative SEO to harm genuine websites/blogs. Even if proper DMCA complaints and link removal requests are made to Google, it refuses to tale proper action against the offenders and recommends contacting the owner of website directly.
In the Indian context this violates Indian laws and amounts to lack of exercise of cyber law due diligence. Google must seriously think about its Indian strategy in this regard as soon as possible to avoid civil and criminal liabilities.
We have sought more details from Google in this regard so that we can decide our course of action. We have sent the following mail to Google:
Thanks for your mail.
However, your communication and action is totally misplace and is wrongly executed. We have checked our contents thoroughly and not even a single word has been picked from other platforms.
We always produce original contents and our contents are picked by others.
It seems to be a mala fide DMCA complaint and we wish to take action against the offender. Kindly issue us the copy of the DMCA compliant so that not only can we file a counter notification but also take appropriate legal action against the offender, if any.
Even there is a gross negligence on the part of Google by making the post a draft. Google has neither checked the veracity of the compliant nor has it provided any information to us to check the same.
How can we analyse that we have violated the copyright of any person/organisation if the information is not provided to us? We also could not find any such information at Chilling Effects.
As a matter of fact we believe that Google has committed a mistake by acting in the manner in which it has acted.
Kindly restore our contents to original state immediately”.
Now we are waiting for the response of Google and once such response is received we would decide the future course of action in this regard.
”Blogger has been notified, according to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), that certain content in your blog is alleged to infringe upon the copyrights of others. As a result, we have reset the post(s) to \”draft\” status. This means your post – and any images, links or other content – is not gone. You may edit the post to remove the offending content and republish, at which point the post in question will be visible to your readers again.”
We produce original contents and we do not lift contents of others. So prima facie the DMCA complaint filed with Google is mala file and wrong. Even Google is negligent in changing the status of our posts as draft without verifying the truth of the claim either itself or with our assistance.
The notice further reads:
”A bit of background: the DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. If you believe you have the rights to post the content at issue here, you can file a counter-claim.
The notice that we received, with any personally identifying information removed, will be posted online by a service called Chilling Effects. You can search for the DMCA notice associated with the removal of your content by going to the Chilling Effects search page and entering in the URL of the blog post that was removed.”
Till now Google has not provided us any information as to how we violated the copyright of any person or individual. Even a search at Chilling Effects has not produced any results. Clearly, Google has wrongfully suspended the posts without application of its mind.
On top of it the notice reads:
”If it is brought to our attention that you have republished the post without removing the content/link in question, then we will delete your post and count it as a violation on your account. Repeated violations to our Terms of Service may result in further remedial action taken against your Blogger account including deleting your blog and/or terminating your account. DMCA notices concerning content on your blog may also result in action taken against any associated AdSense accounts. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.”
It is clear that there is no copyright violation on our part. Rather Google has been used as a platform to harass us and Google willing complied to do so without examining the truth of the compliant. We would publish our response to Google soon.
The reasons for censoring and manipulation of SERPs, news and blog results by Google and its Affiliates are as follow:
(1) As a direct result of censorship requests from governments and law enforcement agencies of various nations, including India.
(2) To protect the interest of online advertisers who advertise with Google and it Affiliates. If non paying and free services are appearing at the first page of Google SERPs, etc then there is no motivation for paid advertisers to purchase Google’s services.
(3) To help the online reputation management and brand protection Partners and Affiliates of Google. Many times rich and powerful business houses and multi national companies ask Google to remove objectionable and offensive contents from SERPs, news and blog searches. Although Google does not entertain such requests and do not remove the claimed offending contents unless they are legally sustainable, yet manual action penalty and demotion of blogs and websites in such cases is very common practice on the part of Google and its Affiliates.
(4) Intellectual property rights (IPRs) violations may result in not only removal of offending contents but even offending websites and blogs are punished in case of repeated infringements. For instance, blogs on Blogspot platform may be deleted, suspended or demoted depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case.
(5) Splogs and contents farms websites are frequently punished by Google. However, in many cases these Splogs and contents farms are also responsible for punishment of original, genuine and useful websites and blogs. Contents lifted from these original blogs frequently appear at Splogs and Google punishes the original blog owner for the wrong doing of the Splogger. Presently Google seems to have been defeated by these Splogs and content farms.
(6) At Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) we have been observing that bad neighbourhoods are deliberately picking up our contents and linking back to us. Google’s algorithm is fooled due to this practice which considers bad neighbourhoods and Splogs as original source of contents and punishes the original and genuine blogs.
(7) Negative search engine optimisation (SEO) also uses the same method as discussed in point (6) above. Due to negative SEO Google believes that a genuine and original website is engaging in spam behaviour but in reality this is not true. But Google still punishes the original and genuine website due to bad and malicious behaviour of others.
We would add more reasons to this list from time to time. If you have any idea or recommendation in this regard, kindly contact us and share your views.
According to us, Google uses the following methods:
(1) Putting posts in duplicate contents category in news category thereby making it unavailable in the main category.
(2) Temporarily removing the contents from news, SERPs, blog search, etc so that its relevance is gone for contemporary news and topics. Further, this also allows non controversial posts to get a better place in Google’s SERPs and other search results.
(3) Algorithms changes that is an automatic process managed by Google’s bots.
(5) Putting posts in blackhole for certain days or for indefinite period.
(6) Rough employees manipulating news, SERPs and blog results, with or without Google’s knowledge.
(7) Removing the news from news search results after a day or two. Normally news remains in Google news search results for a month but Google occasionally removes news within a day or two. For instance, the post titled legal requirements of undertaking e-commerce in India appeared in news and is now not there.
(8) By attaching a 503 “services unavailable” error with the post to be censored and making it unavailable. You can analysis this fact and error at your webmaster tool.
(9) By manipulating the robots text file (robots.txt) and blocking post(s) through such robots. txt file. This is done in such a manner that you cannot find any clue, hint or proof of the same even through the webmaster tool.
We would update the list on regular basis. If you think a particular method should or should not be there in the abovementioned list, kindly drop us a line. We really appreciate the valuable inputs of our readers.
The following posts, articles and news have been manipulated, censored and subjected to manual action penalty by Google:
Legal requirements of undertaking e-commerce in India (appeared in news, disappeared not reposted again) (Method Used By Google: Google attached a 503 “services unavailable” error with the post and thereby censored it)
National cyber coordination centre (NCCC) of India (appeared, disappeared, reposted again at new platform and reappeared again)
Cell phone laws in India (appeared, disappeared, reposted again at new platform and reappeared there)
E-courts and ODR in India (did not appear, reposted, appeared at new platform)
International online dispute resolution (did not appear, not reposted)
Further, controversial posts pertaining to e-surveillance and censorship and non accountability of authorities and projects launched by Indian government without any legal framework and parliamentary oversight are also censored by Google frequently in India.
The list of affected posts, news, articles, etc in this category are as follows:
The following news article were manipulated and censored by Google recently:
We would add the latest censored posts at the top of this list in the second para and at the page titled “News”.