Here is the email I received on April 9:
While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as http://shanghaiist.com/2009/03/07/photos_shanghai_sexpo.php?gallery0Pic=12. Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of your website.
As stated in our program policies, AdSense publishers are not permitted to place Google ads on pages with adult or mature content. This includes images or video content containing lewd or provocative poses, or close-ups of breasts, butts, or crotches.
Please make any necessary changes to your webpages in the next 72 hours. We also suggest that you take the time to review our program policies (https://www.google.com/adsense/policies) to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance.
Once you update your site, we will automatically detect the changes and ad serving will not be affected. If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Google AdSense Team
Here is my reply, also dated April 9:
Dear Google AdSense Team,
The site in question — Shanghaiist.com — is a News website, not a porn website. We focus on news and events in Shanghai, China. Google News indexes Shanghaiist as a qualified News source. Because our readership is predominantly grown-ups, we occasionally (rarely) do report on some news or events that could vaguely be considered “adult.” The link in question is coverage of an adult products convention in Shanghai.
I don’t think it makes sense to remove this content, which seems valid to our readership, from our site. And our site architecture does not allow us to remove ad codes from a specific URL. Is it possible for me, within Google Adsense, to “blacklist” certain Shanghaiist URLs that don’t meet your content policies? I’d be happy to remove AdSense ads from specific pages on our site in that manner.
Again, we are a valid News website and 99.9% of our content complies with AdSense policies. Hopefully there is a way we can solve this issue that doesn’t involve shutting off AdSense completely or Google dictating our editorial content.
I did not receive a reply, nor did I expect one. And no, I don’t really think Shangahaiist’s readers need Sexpo photos, but that is not really the point. Honestly, I’d have to think Shanghaiist, at some point in the past four years, has featured images far more risque than the ones found at the link above. I vaguely remember something about someone named Edison something or other.
Anyway, sometime during the wee hours of April 14, Google ads on Shanghaiist went blank. I had a backup plan in place for that, but I didn’t expect the site’s search function to go down along with the ads. That’s unfortunate and I am trying to figure out what to do about that (our techies in New York are currently sleeping).
This is all quite silly, and the timing couldn’t have been worse — I just figured out how to ban Google from posting ads for brothels on Shanghaiist.