Google Starts to Remove Porn From Its Search Advertisements

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Google Inc. is banning pornographic and sexually explicit terms from appearing in its ads.

After banning sexually explicit terms from its advertising networks earlier this year, Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) followed up this week with a warning to advertisers who were not complying with the new terms. The move has some wondering whether the Internet-dominating company plans to eradicate porn from its main search business as well.

“This is another example of a mainstream company turning its back on the industry that has supported it," attorney Michael Fattorosi, whose firm often represents the adult industry, told CNBC. "The question now becomes: Will they block adult content from their search results?”

Despite the change in ad policy, Google is not planning to remove porn and other adult content from its search engine entirely, according to Dr. James Jansen. The Penn State professor researches search engines and online marketing, and said the policy change more likely stems from Google’s ads shifting from text-based to ones that incorporate pictures.

“Some of these pornographic sites have been AdWords customers for a while. But if you look back at 2002, when it was mainly textual ads, it probably didn't offend a lot of people,” Jansen told International Business Times. “Now that they've integrated images, those ads are much more prevalent. That may be facilitating the change.”

Google’s ban will block “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,” according to an email it sent AdWords partners. A company spokesperson said Google had restricted its AdWords platform in regards to adult categories for years.

Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, a “national organization opposing pornography and indecency,” said in a blog post that her group persuaded Google to make the change after a meeting in May, but Google says it “made the decision in “an effort to continually improve users’ experiences with AdWords.”

Google’s decision will affect its bottom line, as the company profits more from its search engine than anything else. Hundreds of millions of users search using explicit terms on Google, with the word “porn” used more often than common terms like “maps,” “weather,” “shopping” and “food.”

“Google has left money on the table by disallowing certain ads, like those for liquor, gambling, prostitution and illegal services, for lots of business reasons,” Jansen said. “Perhaps for ethical reasons, but [Google] has always said it was going to leave that money on the table.”

This is not the first time Google has cracked down on objectionable ads. It forbids those promoting underage sex, prostitution and escort services, and along with Yahoo Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) banned controversial adulterous dating website Ashley Madison from advertising in Japan.

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