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For those of you who have not seen Matt Taibbi’s piece on Google’s threat to demonetize us over flawed, even nonsensical AI-generated charges against a handful of posts since 2018, please proceed immediately and give it a read. We are very grateful for his deft skewering of the Google spreadsheet which was the only explanation of its charges, and his trying to fathom the logic, such as it was, behind Google demonetizing the designated posts. Recall that Google was threatening to demonetize the site entirely if we did more of the same….when the accusations on their face (save possibly one) made no sense.

Taibbi nailed one of the key reasons why the Google sanctions were so off base: “…this is a common feature of moderation machines; they can’t distinguish between advocacy and criticism.” And he also cited examples where articles in highly respected medical journals which raised doubts about Covid vaccine performance triggered warnings like [HARMFUL_HEALTH_CLAIMS, ANTI_VACCINATION, HATEFUL_CONTENT].

Again, we are extremely appreciative of Taibbi getting on this case so quickly and producing a compact, easy-to-digest (important for generalist readers!), yet very effective piece, and then at remarkable speed too.

So please, do your part by circulating Taibbi’s piece on social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and relevant sites like YCombinator and appropriate forums on Reddit, and posts or sites that focus on free speech issues. Things like this never happen in onesies. As we recounted earlier, the one publisher we knew who got a lesser roughing up by Google (no site-wide demonetization threat) did get Google to back down on some charges, but he capitulated on the rest. And critically, he was insistent I not identify him, which in context I took to mean that he saw the Google demerits as potentially reputation-damaging. So there may already be a lot more of this sort of Google content-censoring than has been made public.

Again, thank Taibbi for his help!

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