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This 19-Year-Old Entrepreneur Lost $46,000 Because Google AdSense Says He Didn't Follow Their Rules

Idris Sami is a 19-year-old French-Moroccan entrepreneur who set up a website that lets people text their friends for free. Don't have a phone, or want to avoid mobile data charges? No problem. MesTextos lets French-speakers text their friends from the website. MesTextos isn't going to threaten WhatsApp anytime soon, but in Europe and the Middle East, where alternative messaging services are more popular, free texting is a nice little niche to occupy.

MesTextos  is like Magtext.com in the Philippines, and until the beginning of 2013 MesTextos.com was doing very well indeed.

Sami was running Google's AdSense advertising system on his site. It allows website publishers to display search ads powered by Google and take a cut of the revenues.

By December 2013 so many people were clicking on MesTextos' ads that Sami's Google account hit $46,000.

But then he learned that if you're an AdSense partner and you don't run ads on your site exactly the way Google wants, the search giant will punish you.

Banned By Google
Google cancelled Sami's account and returned all the money he had earned to his advertisers.

He is banned from Google's ad programs until further notice.


Idris Sami's Google Adsense revenue account.
All $46,000 of it.

Sami is furious about the money he earned and then lost. Although this is an extreme example — a huge portion of Google's client base consists of individual publishers making only a few hundred dollars a month — it does typify one of the frustrations Google's clients have dealing with the company.

Emails From Google Praised The Site

In an email Google sent to Sami, Google says MesTextos was incentivizing or forcing people to click on ads to use the site, which is against the rules; Sami denies that. He says two different Google sales staff praised his revenue-generating efforts and, in separate emails, offered to help optimize his site to improve its performance. He says he wasn't warned there was something wrong with his site until it was too late.

 Google declined to comment on Sami specifically, but a spokesperson told Business Insider:
... we always send a note to the publisher explaining which policy was in question and, in many cases, give them a chance to make changes to their pages to keep the account in good standing. Publishers are also given an opportunity to appeal policy decisions.

 'Nous Avons Desactive Votre Compte Google AdSense' :Google Banned Sami for incentivizing or instracting users to click oh his site.

On Jan 28, Sami received a third email, also in French: "We have deactivated your Google AdSense account ... your account block is final, we have blocked payment on your corresponding balance.") 

Sami says he begged and pleaded with Google but that he cannot figure out what Google thinks is wrong with his site. It is notable that Sami's site currently carries a large ad that requires a click before you can use it — the exact thing Google said was wrong with the site in the first place. Sami says that ad, for another of his sites, was placed there by him only after Google cut him off and his ad revenue declined.

On the one hand it's a straightforward case: Google publishes its rules, and Sami allegedly broke them. But, as we've noted before, Google has a PR problem here: AdSense can be complicated. The basic rules are 2,500 words long. It's a fairly nontransparent company, and it doesn't break down where its ad revenue comes from in any detail. And because it is so massive, and so many companies in the online ad ecosystem are entirely dependent on it, Google becomes a ripe target for rumors and complaints.

Google is also constrained in explaining publicly how it detects bad behavior and click fraud on the web, because doing so would help those creating the fraud. So its bans often feel secretive or arbitrary to publishers. Publishers may not even know that their sites are being used as pivot points for fake traffic.
That's not much comfort to Sami. He says he is working with a lawyer to demand from Google the money he believes he earned.

Google is being sued in the U.S. over allegations that it suddenly and without explanation withholds ad money from website publishers once their sites become successful. And the company is the subject of an infamous, and obviously fake, conspiracy theory that publishers who make $5,000 or more per month are banned from the system right before their checks are paid. (The theory has a giant hole in it — Google collects revenues only when it delivers those ads, so banning successful sites would actually make Google poorer.) This theory has been making the rounds for years.

Google's Paris HQ raided as part of a tax fraud investigation early in the morning (May 24, 2016). Google is accused of owing €1.6bn ($1.8bn; £1.3bn) in unpaid taxes. The tax arrangements of international companies have come under close scrutiny recently.
Several have been accused of using legal methods to minimise their tax bills.

source: businessinsider

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