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Google Bans Right-Wing ZeroHedge From Ad Platform Over Racism in Comments Section

Tech giant says it didn’t ban The Federalist, however

Google has banned conservative website Zero Hedge, a right-leaning financial blog, from using its ad platform over racist comments its readers have posted in comments section. However, contrary to previous reports, the conservative opinion site The Federalist was not banned.

“The Federalist was never demonetized,” Google said in a statement posted via several tweets Tuesday afternoon. “We worked with them to address issues on their site related to the comments section. Our policies do not allow ads to run against dangerous or derogatory content, which includes comments on sites, and we offer guidance and best practices to publishers on how to comply. As the comment section has now been removed, we consider this matter resolved and no action will be taken.”

The comments on both sites, focused on the recent protests and riots stemming from the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, violated Google’s policy against “dangerous and derogatory” content, according to the rep.

Google’s policy prohibits “content that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.”

Zero Hedge is currently demonetized and unable to make money from Google ads, the rep said, but it is not permanently banned from using Google’s ad platform, a Google rep told TheWrap. If it were to remove the comments, it will be able to continue getting revenue from Google ads.

NBC News was the first to report the bans, but the Google rep pushed back against the outlet’s framing of the story. NBC News reported both outlets were punished for posting unsubstantiated claims about recent Black Lives Matter protests after the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a British nonprofit group, told Google they were earning ad revenue from stories pushing unfounded and racist claims about the protests.

NBC pointed to a recent post from Zero Hedge claiming the protests were “fake,” as well as an article from The Federalist “claiming the media had been lying about looting and violence during the protests” — without linking to specific examples.

While Google said this didn’t factor into its decision, Zero Hedge recently posted an article claiming the protests are “fake” and “manufactured.” The Federalist, which was co-founded by Ben Domenech, a conservative writer and husband to Meghan McCain, has published several articles condemning rioting and looting in response to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The site has also ripped the media and Democrats for their response, or lack thereof, to rioting and looting.

“The legacy media and the Democratic Party have likewise struggled to muster the moral firmness to condemn the rioters,” Federalist writer Nathanael Blake wrote earlier this month. “The establishment left has an immune disorder: Its leaders are incapable of standing against radicals who use the rhetoric of social justice as a cover for evil deeds. Thus, many Democratic mayors and governors have let their cities be destroyed, and Democratic leaders have justified violence and looting as conducive to the cause of racial justice.”

Both The Federalist and Zero Hedge did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Zero Hedge’s inability to make money off of Google ads comes just a few days after the site’s Twitter account was reinstated; Twitter had removed its account after Zero Hedge had said COVID-19 was created in a Chinese lab.