Google: You’re Not Saving the Rain Forests That Way!
Forestle is a search engine built on Google Custom Search, with the goal of saving the Rain Forests. That seems like a noble enough cause.
Their methods of going about this, however, have gotten the site’s search functionality revoked by Google. When you try to perform a search on Forestle, you get a big pink box with a message from the Forestle team. The message goes:
We just received an email from Google in which they announced the end of the partnership with Forestle. They said that we offered "incentives to click artificially on sponsored links" and that this was not compliant with their policies.
Well, we don’t agree with that!
We displayed a note at the top of the Forestle result page that says, "only click on Google sponsored links if you are really interested in them." Also we saved 0.1 m² per search and not per click! So where did we offer incentives to click on ads?
Philipp Lenssen at Blogoscoped notes that Forestle’s explanation page says, "Forestle earns advertising revenue from clicks on ’sponsored link." Lenssen also got a comment out of Google who referred to their program policies page and said:
“Forestle was in violation of our terms of service. When we are made aware of a potential policy violation, our team of specialists will manually review the site to make sure it abides by our program policies. In this case we have stopped serving ads to Forestle.”
Forestle is encouraging users to try the search engine at Znout.com (also based on Google Custom Search) as an alternative until they resolve the situation with Google. I have to assume that Znout’s policies are in line with Google’s.