Back in 2020, I applied to get Google AdSense on my site so they could run ads on my blog and generate revenue. It was a complicated process and took months for them to get back to me.
I was finally approved, and ads began to run on Phicklephilly. I had already secured my own clients to run on the site so this was an added bonus. The income isn’t that great unless you have millions of page views but it was free money I earned while I slept, so I was down.
But here’s the rub.
Google has very strict guidelines when it comes to running ads on your site. Your content has to be very PG and you can’t have anything sexual or offensive on your site. I always wrote from my heart and used the whole language. Especially in the beginning. I wasn’t too worried, because most of my stuff was pretty tame. I’d rather mention it and leave the images up to my readers.
But one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written was about Asian massage parlors in Philly. I wrote it back in 2017 and it was just me interviewing a friend of mine about his experiences at those establishments.
Google Adsense was immediately all over it with warnings about how they wouldn’t run any ads on that page unless I fixed it. What they meant by “fix” was to clean it up and make it safe so anybody could read it. I didn’t like any of this but I complied. I changed a few things but they were relentless in their attacks on my work.
I thought the one page that’s had over 17,000 page views should be a winner for advertising revenue… but no. They kept flagging the site for violations and ultimately I simply relented and took it down. I didn’t want to offend anybody, but it really felt like a form of censorship. I mean… here’s a company that runs ads for HBO and that cable network has tons of profanity, violence, and sex on it. I wondered, why me? That all seemed a bit hypocritical on the part of Google. But I wanted the revenue and it took me forever to get approved, so I sadly gave into their will. They had me at their mercy.
Things have been fine since then and I got over it. But then something else happened last year. My Google email account was hacked. I didn’t realize it at first. A small letter Y appeared in my search engine bar on Google Chrome. I would go to search for something at I would be redirected to Yahoo. I didn’t want any of this. I tried to clean it off my Chrome account using different security measures but none of them worked.
This went on for a week or so, and then one Sunday night I got a text from google that they had disabled my account. So I had no access to my email, calendar, and my google drive. Google has the power to not only disable your account to keep you safe it can easily cut you off from everything you have in your accounts with them. They do this with no remorse and without warning. This is a little disturbing that this company has this kind of power over its users. (It’s funny how the only two industries that refer to their clients as users are internet companies and drug dealers)
My mail has been in place for 10 years and had everything in it. My calendar had dates and things scheduled in it since 2010. My Drive had both manuscripts of my works of fiction, and every article I’d written for the freelance commercial writing I do for a living.
Google told me that my google account had been disabled due to harmful malware and phishing that had hacked into my account, and some entity tried to change my password. I thought, the next thing they’d do was try to hack into my bank account or my brokerage accounts. It was pretty scary.
But with the account disabled it stopped the perpetrators dead in their tracks. I found a way to clean out the malware from my chrome account and I sent google a message telling them what I did to try to fix it.
They got back to me in 48 hours and told me the account was irreparably corrupted and they wouldn’t reinstate it.
And that was it. Everything was simply… gone.
But the good news is, I don’t really care about my email or calendar, I just made a new one with a new name and password. But I was a little salty about the elimination of everything in my Drive.
But I wasn’t that upset.
All of my books are held securely at KDP Amazon and I have complete control over them. I also have copies of the manuscripts saved to my computer. Everything I’ve ever written commercially has been shared with my editor and she has records of everything I’ve done. So I’ll be fine.
It was actually a bit liberating to know that although someone could come in and attack my account I really didn’t lose everything. If anything, it gave me a fresh start with a new email free from clutter and a new calendar. I’ll just have my editor share with me copies of everything I’ve written for her to my new Drive.
So as daunting as something like this can be, I just had to think to myself for a moment and not panic. My house hasn’t been broken into. My daughter is safe and so am I. My money is secure and untouchable. My creative work is safe. I’m fine and I really haven’t lost anything. The only time you really lose something is when your perception is that it’s a loss.
If you’re fine without something you don’t really miss it. Nothing of real value has been affected and we’re all fine, so this is simply a story and a warning to everybody out there to be careful and be mindful of what’s going on with your digital footprint across all of your devices.
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You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1