Google Ad Policy Cracks Down On Plagiarism

    May 23, 2007

Advertisements for weapons, drugs, and prostitutes have been banned from Google.  All right, fair enough.  But now advertisements for essay-writing services will also be forbidden, and while more than a few people have raised their eyebrows, others have cheered.

It’s hard for me, as a writer, to object to the ban.  We writers take a dim view of plagiarism; as Aaron Sorkin expressed through an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, “Accusing a writer of plagiarism – it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not . . .  You might as well accuse him of being a sex offender.”  (See – note the quotation marks, attribution, and link – we try to avoid any semblance of that offense.)

Yet the ban comes because, according to the BBC, “There have been complaints from universities about students being sold customised essays on the internet.”  In other words, some students “write” essays for school by providing a company with their credit card information, as opposed to typing out thirty pages.

The president of Universities UK, Professor Drummond Bone, was pleased with Google’s step to put an end to this practice.  “We welcome this move,” he said in a statement.  “Essay writing sites claim that students pay hundreds of pounds for model answers – but do not then submit these as their own work.  We all know this claim is absurd.”

By the way – as I learned of this development, it seemed that only British sources were covering it, and I almost concluded that the advertising ban would only apply in the UK.  But it should, in fact, take place “across Google’s global network.”

Especially interested persons can keep an eye on Google’s Content Policy page, where “essay services” should soon join “copyrighted works” and “fake documents” on the list of banned items and services.