On May 8, a group of pro-family activists and scholars met with representatives from the Google AdWords Team. The Google team knew that for a couple of years they had been on the PornHarms “Dirty Dozen” list of corporations for enabling the distribution of pornography and the growth of the pornography industry. The meeting was a culmination of months of work by the individual organizations and the group working together as well. We found the Google team to be very cooperative and eager to hear what our constituents were saying about the harmful influences to their children by the prevalence of pornography throughout the Internet and the ease with which anyone could access pornography by intent or error.
We specifically asked that Google remove pornography from advertisements and avoid running ads that are sexually explicit or that advertise pornography sites. Less than two weeks after our visit, Google sent an announcement to their advertisers reminding them of “a change to Google’s advertising policies” and provided this link to the specific changes: https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/4271759
Google clearly stated that they will “no longer accept ads that promote graphic depictions of sexual acts including, but not limited to, hardcore, graphic sexual acts including sex acts such as masturbation; genital, anal, and oral sexual activity.” With the change, Google “disapproves all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation” of their revised policy.
In addition to the above-mentioned changes, Austin Ruse reported in Breitbart that Google had earlier announced removal of “all pornographic apps and most sexual apps from Google Play.” Further, Dawn Hawkins, of PornHarms, reported that, as a result of our work with the Google AdWords Team, Google had improved its “safe search” and “safety mode” and now has a tool to advise parents on Internet safety included in Google’s safety center.
There are still areas of concern regarding Google because of the access to YouTube and the search engine feature that needs filters similar to Bing, which uses a “moderately filtered” default search to protect children and others wanting to avoid undesirable materials. Currently, the default for Google is a wide-open search.
The Google team explained that their major challenge is like the arcade game called “whack a mole,” where when you close one avenue, another route is found. Because their job to ensure hard porn images are not appearing in Google searches is not easy, the Google team requested further meetings with the group to keep us informed about problems as soon as they are spotted by concerned parents and other citizens.
Dawn Hawkins applauded Google’s improvements and noted room for more changes, “We are grateful that they are realizing that their profits from porn are not worth the devastation to children and families. We applaud Google for these important strides forward, but continue to call on them to improve their policies and actions, especially on Google Search, Google Images, YouTube and Safe Search.”
Note: The Pro-Family scholars and activists who have been working with Google and were at the May 8 meeting were: Janice Shaw Crouse (Concerned Women for America), Cathy Ruse (The Family Research Council), Donna Rice Hughes (Enough is Enough), Patrick Trueman and Dawn Hawkins (Morality in Media), Scott McClurg and Scott Hammersley (Covenant Eyes), Tim Goeglein (Focus on the Family), and Rob Warner (Content Watch).