Google claims two conservative news sites, ZeroHedge and The Federalist, were found to be in violation of its policies on derogatory content related to race in the comment section of some articles related to the Black Lives Matter protests in recent weeks.
The inquiry into the alleged violations was apparently initiated by NBC News.
“We have strict publisher policies that govern the content ads can run on and explicitly prohibit derogatory content that promotes hatred, intolerance, violence or discrimination based on race from monetizing,” a Google spokesperson said. “When a page or site violates our policies, we take action.”
In a report published Tuesday afternoon, NBC News claimed Google “banned” The Federalist and ZeroHedge from Google Ads. Google has since responded, telling Adweek‘s Scott Nover that ZeroHedge and The Federalist were never demonetized and that the violations were in the comment sections of their websites, not in the actual articles.
A Google spokesperson tells me that @NBCNews gets it wrong. Google says The Federalist was notified they *could* be demonetized but hasn't yet been. They can still remedy.
Google also says the sites' comments section not any articles were in violation.https://t.co/Nl9SmJBnEX
— Scott Nover (@ScottNover) June 16, 2020
In now-deleted tweets, NBC News’ Adele-Momoko Fraser (the journalist behind the report) and NBC News Verification Unit Executive Producer Ruaridh Arrow celebrated the results of the report with the activist BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Arrow later clarified that the hashtag was included in his tweet “because the story concerned that movement” and that it was “not an indication of support for it and has now deleted for clarity.”
In an update, NBC News accused Google of “backtracking” from its original claim and also clarified that the violations were found in the comment section and not in the articles. NBC News has since faced harsh scrutiny including a tweet by Bloomberg Opinion Columnist Eli Lake that read,
“It’s heartbreaking that journalists, of all people, would be leading the charge to deplatform outlets they don’t like. Besides undermining the basic principals of our profession, this will come back to bite us. Cancel Snitch Journalism,“
Editorial credit: Evan Lorne / Shutterstock.com