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article imageOp-Ed: Google, Adsense and Scientology: The Unholy Trinity?

By Michael Cosgrove     Jul 9, 2009 in World
The Internet has recently been seeing a massive advertising campaign by the Church of Scientology. It has been noticed by many Internet users and efforts to find out more about it from Google and Adsense have resulted in some rather surprising results.
I first noticed this phenomena a few days ago on Digital Journal. Many of the pages I visited contained an ad for Scientology. At the time this article is posted that is still happening, and the picture on the left was taken from the Digital Journal site just before posting this.
But this ad is not to be found uniquely on this site. Far from it.
In fact it’s the same in many areas of the Internet, from news sites to commercial sites to search engines.
The Internet is at present flooded with Scientology ads.
The Church of Scientology has the right to advertise where it wishes, of course, but it does seem strange to see their ads on sites that specialise in computing or electrical appliances.
This preponderance of Scientology ads has caused many Internet people to ask questions.
And that's where the mystery begins to deepen.
A webmaster at Computerworld recently noticed that almost all the ads on his Adsense block were for the Church of Scientology.
He found it impossible to change his ad rotation, and emails sent to Google and Adsense asking for clarification received no response. There were no answers from their forums either, and he noted that whereas Google and Adsense are normally prompt to answer webmasters, even smaller ones, he got no answers on this issue.
The phenomena was also picked up by I4U News.
Using filters, even multi-filters, doesn’t stop the ads either, whereas that’s what they were designed for.
Also, Google recently took down its Anonymous Adsense facility. This was put up at the request of anti-Scientology groups a while back.
The Church of Scientology had a YouTube account closed after they published the names of several Anonymous members hostile to their cause.
The account was re-opened recently, which is in apparent contradiction with the site’s policies.
But a journalist, Mark Bunker, was less lucky. Bunker was about to post a documentary on the Church and a member who fled it but had his YouTube account suspended by Google, who cited copyright issues.
The Church of Scientology must have paid Google a lot of money for these ads, and the taking down of Anonymous Adsense the closing of Bunker’s account, radio silence on questions asked, as well as other incidents, are being interpreted as a possibly successful attempt by the Scientologists to pressure Google to deal with people who attacked them, using the money they spend on ads as a lever.
That a company as big as Google would bend the rules a little for major clients is all part of the game, but if Google is found to have helped the Church of Scientology to quell criticism of it to protect advertising revenue there will be major repercussions.
So what is happening?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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