Being a rather idealistic person, I’ve welcomed (with open arms) search services which try to make the world a better place. My homepage used to be My Eco Seek, but when I heard about Ecocho I switched. This search engine service allowed users to search using Yahoo! or Google and with the profit they get through sponsored ads, for every 1000 searches made, they plant two trees. Google put a stop to this though, on Earth Day, of all days.
The Internet and its effect on the environment
Research has found that the Internet and the digital technology industry are responsible for 2% of worldwide CO2 emissions, which is the same share as the airline industry. Being a growing phenomenom, in terms of its users and of its importance, it is great that there are more and more initiatives of websites becoming carbon neutral.
The Internet is a great medium for making the world a better place. There are so many places for activists to find each other and work together, such as Change.org or Rethos. Even Facebook can be utilised to find like-minded people through their Causes, Events and Groups functions. Nowadays our options to fly carbon neutral are increasing. Dutch airline KLM has such a service, but you can also use independent services such as Trees For Travel.
So the airline industry is busy trimming their CO2 outputs, slowly, but at least they’re making a start. Why not the internet? That’s what the founders of Ecocho must have been thinking when they came up with their concept.
Google decides to stop Ecocho from using its technology
Even though Ecocho had great results in their first weeks, possibly exceeding their expectations, can now only offer their visitors to search environmentally friendly using the Yahoo! search engine. Although I haven’t looked into their statistics, given the popularity of Google, I would guess that that was also the most picked option for using Ecocho.
So what has happened?
The Google AdSense team has found that Ecocho was offering incentives for users to perform searches and AdSense, one of Ecocho’s sources of income, does not allow sites to offer “monetary or non-monetary” incentives to users. This includes paying users for clicks, or donating the profit to charity.
Ecocho would make money every time somebody clicked on the Google ads (or sponsored search results) they would see in their search results, but Ecocho has never encouraged users to click ads. They actually met the Google AdSense team in Australia before launching and they got two thumbs up, but apparently now they have been turned down (both the thumbs as well as Ecocho).
For more information, look here.
So what to do?
Ecocho asked users to " target="_blank">email Google AdSense about their decision and one of their users set up an email that people could send out.
Dear Adsense Support,
I am one of the many users that frequent http://www.ecocho.com, a site recently denied the use of Google search technologies. I must express my disappointment with this event. However disappointed, I understand the value of the specific point of policy that is in conflict: “AdSense does not currently permit sites that offer monetary or non-monetary incentives to users to perform searches on click on ads.” I also understand the the argument regarding the “inability to verify the accuracy of any charitable claims and need to protect the user and advertiser experiences.”
This is equitable and overall good policy practice. I do, however, wish to implore the altruistic nature and the user-demand for such a service. Due to these reasons I ask, with a voice that echoes many others, that the time needed to ensure and verify the legitimacy of this service is taken. We are confident you will find Ecocho to be completely accurate and genuine.
We respectfully ask that proper attention is given to the wishes of the Ecocho community and that a viable agreement with the http://www.ecocho.com staff be made promptly.
Ecocho and Google User
This should be emailed to .
Google says they’re committed to “helping to build a clean energy future.” Yet they ban Ecocho, a legit environmentally friendly service, on Earth Day of all days – while having an Earth Day logo on their frontpage!
Yet they don’t seem to be taking action against some services (which I won’t name or list, but you can find it in the comments here) that do encourage users to use their search engine for personal gain. Ecocho shares its fate with another ‘charity’ search engine called Aidgle.
Here’s something else the people from Ecocho had to say:
We asked if we could get the Google Adsense premium feed, but were told that they would only consider this once we reached several million searches per month. In the mean time they said they were happy for us to use Google custom search.
So obviously we are puzzled as to the sudden change of mind of Google.
Could this… possibly… be about money?
Google, think about your image.
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