Thursday, July 2, 2009

Google Fail

Google’s advertising software has come under fire from feminist groups this week for their policy banning AdWords about abortion providers in 12 countries. AdWords are those little ads that pop up next to your search results and on top of your e-mails in Google.

Google users in Germany, Poland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, France, Italy and Spain will no longer see ads about abortion providers. They’ll still be able to search for that information, but the idea that reproductive health options are being censored even in this minor way is not something to be quiet about.

Feministing did some research on this policy, and e-mailed a Google representative to ask about the policy. The executive ended the exchange with the reassurance that the policy was “fair, up-to-date, [and] consistent with local laws and codes of practice.” She did not explain why each specific country was chosen, or what the purpose of censoring ads was.

This is a tactic that anti-choice activists use all the time. The idea that lack of information is better, that as long as we deprive women of knowledge they’ll make the right choice, is oppressive for two reasons. Firstly, the idea of knowledge suppression as a legitimate tool of your movement should probably give you pause. If information makes people choose a side that is not yours, maybe you’re on the wrong side.

Secondly, the idea that women cannot be trusted with information about their own bodies is absurd. Letting Google executives make the choices about what our delicate ladybrains, and the delicate ladybrains of women around the world, can and cannot see in advertising removes our agency in an area where we can’t afford to give up control.

Feministing is directing its readers to e-mail Google ( to lodge complaints about this policy.

Photo Credit:


Jenna said...


Kristin said...

Despite it's shortcomings as of late (as egregious as they are) I feel like we have a Google win with that photo. Kudos to whoever found that.

WendyM said...

LOVE the part where you say, "If information makes people choose a side that is not yours, maybe you’re on the wrong side."