July 05, 2007

Anti-"Sicko" Google Search Ads and Google Policy

I stayed out of the blogstorm of a few days ago regarding Google [Health Advertising Blog] Criticizes Moore's "Sicko" - given the number of ultrahigh-attention sites echoing the story, anything I'd say would either be futile or (personally) dangerous.

In the aftermath, I've seen some suggestions that Google is violating its own policy by permitting critical ads to be run against a search on "Sicko", e.g.:

Sicko short on truth
Moore's movie profers a deadly Rx.
In the smart new business magazine

Checking Google's ad content policy, the relevant passage seems to be:

Ad text advocating against any organization or person (public, private, or protected) is not permitted. Stating disagreement with or campaigning against a candidate for public office, a political party or public administration is generally permissible.

The letter of the policy doesn't say anything either way about a movie. But the spirit seems to the be that "campaigning" is allowed, so they could argue it encompasses general political speech.

Frankly, I think using Google ads in a controversial political issue is just a bad idea. The following is not an implicit encouragement, but since the idea is utterly obvious, I don't think there's any reason to refrain from mentioning it - buying a political Google ad is an invitation for some militants to click them, solely to cost the advertiser money. Maybe Google doesn't care, since they'd make money too off such "protests" (on the other hand, dealing with the claims of click fraud can't be fun).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on July 05, 2007 12:34 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Google Ads is so amateur anyway. A better approach would be to get the president to pardon one of his staff workers. Drives any thought of Sicko and health care out of the nation's attention.

Posted by: Shelley at July 6, 2007 10:59 PM

Hmm ... In that case, he could have said the sentence commutation was "For health reasons" (a la Paris Hilton) :-)

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at July 9, 2007 03:07 AM