Google says it’s not blocking users from viewing content related to ‘disgraceful’ anti-gay ads
The parent company of the search engine giant said Thursday that it’s no longer blocking users on Google+ from viewing controversial ads, even if the content contains offensive language.
The move comes after users reported seeing ads in their feeds that appeared to support the anti-LGBT “conversion therapy” movement.
The ads are part of a campaign launched by the National Organization for Marriage, which promotes the “reparative therapy” therapy.
“We do not see this as blocking content that violates our terms of service,” a spokesperson for Google parent company Alphabet said in an email to CBC News.
“As part of our efforts to build a better world for everyone, we don’t always see content that we don, in fact, think violates our policies or values.”
Google said it is no longer targeting users who have signed up for its Google+ social network.
It said that it has “reached out to the organizations involved to ensure they are aware of our policy changes, and to explain how we can better serve our users.”
“We have reached out to organizations involved in the campaign and are working with them to ensure that their ads are not impacted,” the spokesperson added.
“In addition, we have increased our efforts in recent weeks to prevent third-party content from being posted on Google+.
We are also working to remove offensive content from our platform.”
The campaign is one of several efforts Google has made to combat online content that the tech giant deems harmful.
Earlier this month, the search giant blocked a number of ads related to the anti to LGBT rights movement, including a “don’t be gay” poster, a poster that claimed to be gay, a photo of a young boy in a bathtub and a video of a gay couple kissing.
The adverts were part of an effort by the parent organization to promote “recovery” in Utah following a string of attacks on LGBT people there.
A Facebook ad campaign by the same group also appeared to target anti-transgender rights activists.
“I feel like my identity as a trans woman was thrown away because of these hateful and hurtful ads,” one of the two women who signed up to run the campaign, Tobi Wells, told CBC News in an interview.
“When I saw the ad, I felt violated, because I thought that I had to be a good person and behave in a way that would not offend anybody.
I felt like I had no choice.”
Wells said she did not immediately know how to proceed, but she eventually made an appointment with Google.
“They did tell me, they were kind of apologetic, but they did have some issues with how they were approaching the ads, and I was told that they were not blocking me,” she said.
“The problem was that I didn’t have a choice, because if I had, then I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to run an ad campaign.”
Google says that the ads it now removes are not tied to its anti-discrimination policies, but rather to its general policies on content and advertising.
“If we can make sure that our users are protected in their use of Google+, we will,” the Google spokesperson said.
The parent of Alphabet, which owns Google, said in a statement that it will be “taking additional actions to better protect our users from hate and discrimination online.”
The company did not say how many of the ads that it now blocks have been removed.
In a statement to CBC, Google said: “We are a global company, and as we build a stronger relationship with all of our partners, we continue to make changes to our policies to ensure a more equal and inclusive world for all people.
In this case, we are making the change to remove ads that contain offensive language, including those that promote the ‘conversion’ of LGBT people to heterosexuality.”