Note that the move was only temporary but the story provides an interesting behind the scenes look at the Google Spam Team and its position within the company. Also note that this isn’t the first time that Google has done this to an internal property.
In early March it acquired BeatThatQuote.com for $60.8 million and within 24 hours penalized it for SEO tactics that violated Google webmaster terms and conditions.
Background via TechCrunch:
Power struggles within Google’s executive team, which have been brewing since the announcement of long time CEO Eric Schmidt’s departure, are apparently bubbling up to the surface.
Case in point: In an extraordinary move to illustrate its independence, say sources, the Google webspam team actually classified Google Places as spam and a content farm, and temporarily removed it from search results…
…The fact that many Place pages only contain content scraped from third party sites and little or no original content was a key factor in the automatic change, say sources. This has been a source of constant tension between Google and the sites they scrape.
The TechCrunch story gets colorful, with Google revenue chief Nikesh Arora cruising the Caribbean on Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt’s $40 million yacht named, appropriately enough, “The Adsense.”