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Google to Start Blocking Sexually-Explicit Ads

Merlijn Hoek

John Burger - published on 06/12/14

Morality in Media says in worked with search engine giant to revise policy.

Sex sells, right? It seems to be one of the oldest tricks in the advertising book.

So how can businesses resist being a little risque? It’s good for the economy, one might say.

But according to Morality in Media, we’ve gone a bit too far in capitalizing on anatomy and physiology.

The agency, and its PornHarms project, claims to have influenced Google to come clean.

The search-engine megabusiness is set to implement a new policy this month that explicitly sexual material will no longer be featured in its ad spaces.

“Under this policy, sexually explicit content will be prohibited, and guidelines will be clarified regarding promotion of other adult content,” Google explained. “The change will affect all countries. We made this decision as an effort to continually improve users’ experiences with AdWords. After the new policy goes into effect, the adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts policy pages will reflect this change.”

Morality in Media had listed Google on its 2014 list of Dirty Dozen list, specifically citing problems with YouTube, GooglePlay and Google AdWords.

“Surprisingly, pornography can be purchased in GooglePlay by people of all ages, including children,” the website says.

Morality in Media says they met with Google to discuss what the search engine company could do to get off the Dirty Dozen list, which includes, not surprisingly, other social media: Facebook and Tumblr. The results of their conversations are gratifying, MIM says.

For its part, Google issued a statement to advertisers in March: “Beginning in the coming weeks, we’ll no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts including, but not limited to, hardcore pornography; graphic sexual acts including sex acts such as masturbation; genital, anal and oral sexual activity,” the email said, according to MIM. “When we make this change, Google will disapprove all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation of our revised policy.”

Other “honorees” on the Dirty Dozen list include U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Verizon, Sex Week on College Campuses, Hilton Hotels, the American Library Association, PlayStation, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Barnes and Noble, and Fifty Shades of Gray.

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