February 14, 2004

Royal Caribbean, Oceana, and Google Ads

"Royal Caribbean" is a cruise company, which is being criticized by the environmental group Oceana. Apparently, Google pulled advertising of the criticism. Quoth Oceana's press release:

Last week, Oceana placed two advertisements with Google, the first describing Oceana's mission and linking to the organization's website, www.oceana.org, the second focusing on Oceana's well-known campaign to stop cruise pollution. Google removed the ads after two days, citing the cruise pollution ad for "language that advocates against Royal Caribbean," and the general ad for using "language advocating against the cruise line industry and cruisers." Google's public editorial guidelines, however, make no mention of any such specific prohibition, stating only that the company reserves the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising it accepts.

"To exercise editorial discretion is one thing, but to stifle a message that the public needs and deserves to hear based on some secret criterion is quite another," said Sharpless. " ...

Now, Google doesn't really have a secret criterion. Just a policy which leaves a lot of room for "interpretation". Frankly, I'm a bit taken back that this story has attracted so much coverage and interest - the Oceana PR seemed to have worked well. This is by far not the first time Google has pulled an ad. There's cases such as:

Blather.Net and George W. Bush

Who would Jesus bomb?

Anita Roddick and the "vomitous worm" story

And LittleCubeNews.com on McDonald's , Quatloos.com , SeeYaGeorge.com , etc.

Anyway, Oceana's now getting more exposure than they ever would from the ad. And there's other ways to make the point (I wonder how high this post will rank on a search for: Royal Caribbean)

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on February 14, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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It's Google's web site. They can "stifle" whatever they want to.

Posted by: billg at February 15, 2004 04:09 PM

Google is quickly becoming the arbiter of information on the internet. Its rather frightening to tell you the truth. I hope that Yahoo and Microsoft step up their efforts to give Google some competition. Competition == progress. Have you heard the latest rumors on Google? They're preparing to offer free Mail service in an attempt to invade Yahoo's primary stronghold.

Posted by: naj at February 22, 2004 09:43 PM

I have written about this controversy extensively at: http://bidinotto.journalspace.com and at
www.ecoNOT.com/page3.html. Comments welcome.

Posted by: Robert at February 23, 2004 11:59 PM

This is my reply to the editor BusinessWeek editor Alex Salkever:

Good Morning Alex Salkever,
I read your article http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/mar2004/tc2004039_1592_tc047.htm. Google (like any other business) has the right to refuse any customer for any reason. I am pleased to know Google has some moral guidelines and care about its integrity. If Oceana wants to do some brouhaha, they are free to do it without forcing others such as Google to cooperate.

I disagree with Oceana's solutions. Myself, I am very concerned with land, water and air pollution, however the solutions proposed by Oceana are PURE GARBAGE. Protecting the ocean CANNOT be done by having an international lobbying group. To solve the problem of overfishing, we need to increase the production of fishes; not reduce the number of fishermen. Producing fish is much cheaper than producing beef or chicken, as the fish does not have to fight gravity and spend energy to keep warm. Oceana opposes to farmed fishing, thus accelerating the process of fish depletion while making fish more expensive and increase starvation in the third world.

The solution is not to reduce the number of fishes, but find methods to produce more fish. A few hundreds years ago, Europe had a similar problem feeding its population. The problem of food production (grain & meat) was solved by tolerating private ownership of land and cattle. When a natural resource such as land belongs to everyone, nobody will invest in it to and everyone will try to exploit that resource for short term benefits. The result is depletion, pollution and destruction of that resource.

To stop pollution, the ocean should be sold like land. A fisherman owning a piece of the ocean would never pollute its own territory. A polluting commercial boat would be subject to big fines for the destruction of the fisherman's private property, thus polluting would become costlier than installing a device to cut down pollution. Each fisherman would protect its private property as a farmer does protect its land and cattle. Imagine a forest that belongs to everyone. In less than a year, that forest would be completely depleted of trees and full of garbage. Again, imagine all livestock belonging to the public. Everyone would try to kill as many animals to avoid buying meat. In a matter of months, livestock would become an endangered specie. This is what happens to the ocean today!

-- Dan Morin

Posted by: Daniel Morin at March 9, 2004 10:55 AM