According to a reminder sent out this year to all AdWords advertisers from the Google AdWords Team, there is a change to Google’s advertising policies. What is that change going to entail? Well, let’s take it directly from the horse’s mouth:
“Beginning in the coming weeks, we’ll no longer accept 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.
When we make this change, Google will disapprove all ads and sites that are identified as being in violation of our revised policy… We ask that you make any necessary changes to your ads and sites to comply so that your campaigns can continue to run.”
So, is this perhaps yet another fast encroaching wave of social puritanism we can look forward to? It looks like it. We recently featured a couple of different articles which, I believe, can be linked to what is happening here with the Google AdWords issue: one spoke of the potential for an eventual war on porn; the other talked about the trials of a porn star called Eden Alexander, whose campaign to raise money to help pay the medical bills she had accrued through serious illness was taken down by the payment processor WePay, on the basis that they did not accept monies in connection with pornographic items.
Setting aside the fact for now that WePay were confusing an adult performer, i.e. a human being, with a “pornographic item,” their decision spoke of a wider trend of discrimination against the industry. Chase Bank recently closed accounts belonging to hundreds of adult performers – and they aren’t the only major financial organization to have done so – as a result of efforts by the Department of Justice, which asked banks to deny access to those who may – MAY – be breaking the law.
Now, as far as we understand, the adult industry is a legal, regulated business, one which provides a healthy revenue for the U.S. as a whole – in 2013 it was estimated to have generated around USD5bn, in fact. God knows the banks haven’t been doing that much to generate revenue. And let’s remember, it was the banking and finance industry, which led to the collapse of the economy as a whole, and all of the consequent, massive social suffering we’ve seen all over the world. Those institutions broke the law, yet the Dept. of Justice doesn’t seem concerned with arresting even a single banker.
So, bankers fucked an entire planet while adult performers just fucked each other, yet the adult performers are the criminals. Anyone else reeling from the stench of moral hypocrisy?
The adult industry is being targeted again. And why not? It’s an easy target for major neoconservative networks like Fox News and is a perfect distraction from the more serious matters affecting the world. It’s an easy target also for career politicians, wishing to prove their mettle in the field of ‘decency’ and family values (while at the same time indecently applying a zero valuation to the lives of the majority of working class families).
Now add to all of that the threat posed by the potential removal of net neutrality – and what that means in terms of ISPs imposing their own moralities and ideologies on those who wish to use their services – and we find ourselves once more heading unhappily towards a state of censorship, applied arbitrarily according to the caprices and proclivities of folk who assume their wealth and/or power mean they know better than the rest of us. Imagine a world in which the women-hating zealots of Hobby Lobby dictated how the Internet worked.
Let’s bring it back round to the Google AdWords move again. The policy change, in essence, represents nothing more and nothing less than Google jumping on the anti-porn bandwagon (you’d hope at least cynically – if it really does come down to fervent conviction, then we’re all in trouble).
I get that there are certain places where certain images and material should not be readily seen – I agree that children should not be exposed to explicit adult content… that’s downright obvious – but such factors can surely be built into the current system. The guys and girls at Google are supposed to be geniuses after all. And to be honest that’s all I need from them… I need them to provide cool, innovative tech that makes life interesting, not take it upon themselves to be the protectors of my moral virtue and sensibilities. If I want that, I’ll go live in China or Iran.
If this isn’t just a cynical tactic by Google to come off as paragons of decency, then they should go all the way and disallow absolutely everything that has even the faintest whiff of the sexual about it. They won’t do that though, because if they did, there’d be very little left for Google to index. As we’ve talked about before here on BaDoink, the fact of the matter is that in today’s society there seems to be very little that separates porn from any other form of advertising or entertainment, other than a strip of cloth or the fact that you actually see the penetration. Which is another reason why this whole anti-porn movement is even more spurious than you may have already suspected.
I feel pretty certain that Google aren’t going to punish HBO for the highly sexual and very, very frequently explicit content of Game of Thrones or True Blood, or YouTube for basically any contemporary music video, which almost as a matter of course now must feature a barely-dressed woman, or seven, straddling or sliding up and down massive invisible dicks, perpetuating the myth that ladies are good for nothing else and that, clearly, they all just want it anyway.
(It’s also worth repeating as an aside that in a world in which the majority of business is still conducted mostly by men – and therefore subject to all the insecurities of machismo – perhaps the real problem with seeing penetration is that you see that big old dick. The root of censorship perhaps, in this case, isn’t morality but un-evolved sexism.)
Look at fashion industry commercials and photo-spreads, look at the advertising for over-priced bottles of pretentious fragrances… in the former they may as well be selling open-crotch panties, and in the latter you may as well just see the male or female human sex dolls pouting about therein using their highly expensive and elaborately-designed scent bottles as rectal stimulators.
Acting as if porn is somehow worse than all of this is ridiculous. By helping to maintain this myth of porn’s comparative unworthiness, Google puts itself on the wrong side of the censorship and freedom of speech argument. To my eyes, at least, this seems like a wrong-headed move for an otherwise savvy company that has usually proved itself adept at recognizing and harnessing progressive social trends.