Google Profits from Illegal Ads


Google is once again in trouble over AdWord adverts being used on the company’s search engine. According to the BBC, Google was displaying a sponsored 2012 Olympic Games ticket ad that was supposed to allow users to buy two tickets to the games. However, instead of a ticket users were getting ripped off.

One user told authorities that she went on the site to search for a place to buy tickets when she saw a sponsored link on the right hand side of the search engine.

Google’s sponsored links are perceived as safe links that people assume Google has vetted and can be safely clicked. However, this sponsored link led to a company’s website called LiveOlympicTickets. The website allowed customers to purchase two tickets to the games for $1160.

One user who initially fell for the ad said that, after signing up for the tickets, she received an email requesting that she fax over a copy of her signature to the company in order to complete the transaction. She said she felt uncomfortable and that’s when she began to suspect it was probably a scheme.  

The BBC reported that a little over a week after it was determined that this link was not legitimate, the Metropolitan Police asked Google to remove the ad. The police were able to determine that LiveOlympicTickets had no affiliation with the Olympic Games, which made it illegal for them to sell tickets on the open market.

Google said in a statement, “We have a set of policies covering which ads can and cannot show on Google. These policies and guidelines are enforced by both automated systems and human beings. When we are informed of ads which break our policies, we investigate and remove them if appropriate.”

Google reportedly admitted that they keep any money it makes from companies advertising regardless if it’s a legal ad or not. AdWord allows Google to make a certain percentage either for displaying the ad or for the amount of clicks the ad gets.

Google faced similar problems in previous years for sponsoring links that were later uncovered as illegal products or services. Google said they understand user frustration, but there is only so much they can do regarding their AdWord service.

“While Google AdWords provides a platform for companies to advertise their services, we are not responsible for, nor are we able to monitor the actions of each company.”

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Edited by Rich Steeves

Contributing Writer

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