Google Weblog

February 13, 2004: Anti AdWords Strike Again

Google's long-standing policy of not accepting AdWords for any site they deemed "Anti", which previously banned ads for a weblog criticizing actor John Malkovich's anti-semitism, has now been used to stifle more political speech.

The nonprofit Oceana, which works to protect the world's oceans from pollution, has also been kicked out of the program for running ads publicizing Royal Caribbean's pollution and sewage treatment.

Google continues to serve ads for Royal Caribbean cruises and the so-called Church of Scientology, a cult which most notoriously killed Lisa McPherson.

The problem with Google's Anti policy is not that Google should have no control over the ads it runs, but that it is far too broad and unfairly punishes people with opposing viewpoints, while letting the original viewpoint get off free.

Under the Anti policy, Scientology is allowed to promote its murderous cult, but its detractors are not allowed to point out that harm it causes. Royal Caribbean can promote its polluting cruises, but Oceana cannot discuss how they pollute. The President could promote his agenda, but the opposing party could not respond with its problems

These opposing viewpoints are not hate speech or offensive, they simply try to provide readers with all the facts. By only permitting promotion and never caution, Google does us all a disservice, and makes it seem like there is only one side to every issue. This is the antithesis of the democratic Web Google claims to support.

Posted by Aaron Swartz on February 13, 2004 01:09 PM