Is Google silently advancing in the path to fully strict regulation?

So the other day I was reading Roundtable’s article on Sugar Dating Ads and Google banning them. In this article, they discuss topics that Google decided to include in their Inappropriate Content Policy that used to be in the Adult Content Policy. These categories include sexually explicit content, child abuse imagery, mail-order brides, and adult themes in family content.  

When doing this announcement, they also stated that no content that could be interpreted as having sex in exchange for any type of compensation could be advertised on their platform. By doing this, they positioned themselves against prostitution, companionship, escorts, intimate massage, cuddling sites, and, as we said, Sugar Dating. They were very firm and let their users know that, if they decided to create an Ad Campaign in said topics, their accounts would be shut down after a 7-day notice. 

This situation led me to think about how the Advertising world has changed and evolved from its beginnings. Of course, this is not brand new information since every field is supposed to evolve in time, but how crazy is it that some of these topics are actually banned by law, and Google just now decided to not allow its Ad Campaigns to be launched? 

At the very beginning, Google Ads pretty much just ran an “Anything goes” campaign on the Ads launched through their platform. Whatever Ad Campaign you wanted to run was welcome and they had little to no conditions in terms of what’s allowed and what’s not. Of course, cultures evolve as well and a lot of things we used to find very natural and common twenty years ago, we don’t anymore. Given that situation, it’s very normal that Google chooses to stay updated on this subject and shut down those accounts who don’t

However, many “sexual intercourse in exchange for compensation” services are not illegal. Sugar Dating is a great example of this because most places don’t have legal determinations about it, so why does Google? Is this a moral decision or is there anything else behind it? We may never know, but we can deduct a few things from their choice. 

Personally, I think it’s a big deal that Google places Sugar Dating in the same category as Child Abuse Imagery, something that is in fact prohibited by law. We have become very used to Google updating their privacy policies in order to monopolize many of the Advertising fields, but could that have anything to do with this? 

Also, this shouldn’t be surprising either, but they gave little to no explanation of the changes that they decided to go with. They simply chose to send out an email to their platform’s Advertisers letting them know that they could no longer run Ad Campaigns for that list of contents and included “Sugar Dating” in their first paragraph without any context. This instantly leads me to think: what happened that made them make this decision? 

A fun tangent to go by here is what does Bing Ads think of all this? As we know, Bing Ads will always go either the same way or the complete opposite to Google Ads. Their “disallowed or attached to specifications content” list includes “dating”, “areas of questionable legality” and “sensitive advertising” so what does this mean? Probably they don’t have such a strong and detailed policy as Google Ads has, but they still agree on these topics requiring at least a bit more attention. 

To conclude, as much as I mostly agree with their new policy, I believe it has way too many things to point out and ask questions about. Google Ads started with a project that included almost no content policy, so, not to sound conspira-noid (is that a word?) but, does this mean that we are now somewhere on their path to fully strict content regulations?

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