It seems like we can’t go more than a couple days without reading about shady practices, both online and off, that lead to people having their credit card information stolen. While this is a major problem, most people don’t realize that one of their favorite companies, Google, is also profiting off of it.
According to a report recently obtained, Google has made as much as $1 billion in ad revenue from displaying advertisements next to YouTube videos that tell people how to obtain stolen credit card information.
A quick search on YouTube for terms like “Credit Cards with CVV” will turn up dozens of videos where people talk about where to get stolen credit card information. As the video plays, you’ll notice ads for companies like Target (who were recently victims of a major credit card theft). Of course, when these ads are displayed, Google is making money.
When Business Insider asked YouTube to explain why ads were being displayed on these videos, a spokesman replied saying, “Our guidelines prohibit any content encouraging illegal activities, including videos promoting the sale of illegal goods. YouTube’s review teams respond to videos flagged for our attention around the clock, removing millions of videos each year that violate our policies. We also have stringent advertising guidelines, and work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners.”
While this may sound good in theory, the fact is they aren’t doing a very good job of it. Google is the best company in the world at matching up advertisers with keyword searches to maximize the benefit for the marketer, and themselves. They do it billions of times each day on all their properties. Despite this fact, however, they still display an ad for Target when someone searches for “buy CC numbers” or “how to get credit card numbers that work 2014.”
Clearly this is something that could have been easily stopped by Google, if they wanted to. Of course, putting an end to this would also reduce their ad revenue, which is something they are apparently unwilling to do.
Google has been doing this type of thing for quite some time. In fact, back in August of 2011, they had to pay $500 million after the Department of Justice investigated they way they were displaying ads related to illegal pharmaceuticals. (read more on that HERE.)
As long as Google can turn a profit, they are very unlikely to do anything about this practice. The question is, will it take another DOJ investigation for them to do the right thing?