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Google bans Christian ad

Posted By Ron Strom On 08/17/2004 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled


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Google has banned a Christian organization’s advertisements promoting its stance against homosexuality, saying the group promotes “hate.”

Stand to Reason, a nonprofit apologetics organization, says its “AdWord” advertisement on Google recently was pulled down. Specific AdWord ads are listed in the right-hand margin of search results on the popular site when key words an advertiser submits match with those put in by a Net user. A company promoting hats, for example, could have their site displayed when a user searches for information about hats.

Melinda Penner, director of operations for Stand to Reason, says the organization placed four ads on Google. Three of the ads remain on the system, but one leading Net surfers to a Q&A about same-sex marriage was taken down after running for two or three weeks.

“Google’s objections had to do with other articles on our website pertaining to homosexuality,” Penner told WND. “They claimed that their specialist had deemed us a hate site and that their policies didn’t allow people to have ads that discriminated against certain groups, which include sexual orientation.”

Penner said she asked Google what specifically it thought was “hate speech.”

“The things they cited were all moral judgments from our religious perspective about homosexuality, that it’s wrong,” she explained.

“The irony is that in one of the articles they cited, we have an admonition that one of our moral perspective is that we treat homosexuals respectfully and kindly.”

The Stand to Reason website has a special page with articles on homosexuality issues.

Penner says she has asked Google for its definition of “hate,” saying Stand to Reason’s positions are not hateful based on dictionary definitions.

When it comes to “discrimination,” she says, it is actually Google that is discriminating by disallowing Stand to Reason’s ads.

An e-mail Penner received from “Kristie” at Google used the “H” word, saying, “Google AdWords policy never permits ads or keywords promoting hate, violence, or crimes toward any organization, person or group protected by law,” including those distinguished by their “sexual orientation/gender identity.”

Penner countered via e-mail: “Your suspension of our advertisement illegitimately excludes one side of the [same-sex marriage] debate. If you deem the issue itself off limits, then consistency would require you to suspend all searches of the issue. Instead, your search criteria return links to sites strongly advocating same-sex marriage. …”

Kristie responded by reiterating the company’s verdict that the Stand to Reason website includes “unacceptable content.” In the same e-mail, she said, “Google believes strongly in freedom of expression. We therefore offer broad access to content across the Web without censoring results. Please note that the decisions we make concerning advertising in no way affect the search results we deliver.”

Penner noted that Google, which is in the midst of an IPO, or Initial Public Offering of stock, takes pride in its company motto: “Don’t be evil.”

“If that’s your company motto then there must be some things that you don’t want to do,” she told WND, “and if your definition of ‘hate’ is calling something ‘evil,’ then aren’t you a hate group?”

According to Penner, no anti-homosexuality ads currently are coming up in the right-hand ads; they are all pro-homosexual.

“I’m sure there must be some homosexual advocacy groups behind this,” she said.

Penner says she contacted a religious legal group and was told because Google is a private organization, there is really no legal action that can be taken.

The other three Stand to Reason ads that are still running on Google have to do with evolution, Christian apologetics and abortion.

Though the organization’s pro-life ad is still running on Google, another advertiser’s pro-life ad was removed.

In June, Google took down pro-life T-shirt ads a clothing company, Run2316, had run for a time in 2003 without a problem, the firm’s operations administrator, Christopher Clay, says.

In an e-mail to Clay, Google said, “At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain ‘religion and abortion or contraceptive content.’ As noted in our advertising terms and conditions, we reserve the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site.”

Clay believes Google’s IPO has caused the company to clamp down on advertising it finds distasteful. Google might begin trading its stocks as early as tomorrow on Nasdaq, according to news reports.

A spokesman from Google was reluctant to go on the record with WND either about the specific instances mentioned or the company’s “hate speech” policy.

He explained that the company does not allow advertising from organizations that speak negatively of a so-called “protected group.”

The spokesman would not talk about the pro-life issue or the reason one group’s pro-life ad might be acceptable and another group’s ad would not.

Google’s online guidelines for AdWord advertisers say nothing about homosexuality or protected classes of people. It does have, however, include a prohibition against advertising for casinos.

So is Google becoming more aggressive combating “hate speech” to coordinate with its IPO? Since the company is in a “quiet period” in conjunction with the public offering, the spokesman could not address the issue.

Related story:

Google ‘miserable failure’: It’s Bush


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