A funny thing happened to me. I started running ads on Google AdWords calling on Big Tech to stop interfering with medical professionals’ recommendations, especially in respect to Hydroxychloroquine. These ads were linked to a corresponding post on my website. Google demanded that I remove all mentions of Hydroxychloroquine not only in the ads, but even in the post on my website to which they linked. I complied. The ads ran.
Then Google restricted my ads based on the presence of the word “Hydroxychloroquine” in some of the links, including those in the site menus, citing its “policy”:
“In most parts of the world, Google doesn’t allow the use of prescription drug terms in ad text, landing pages, keywords, or source code of a webpage.” (except for corporations “certified” by Google; emphasis is added)
Earlier, this “policy” forbade only prescription drugs terms in ad text, landing pages and keywords – not in source codes. I will not discuss the legality of these Google “policies” here. Google AdWords allows Gilead to promote harmful Remdesivir, and to make false claims deterring the use of Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 (here), but restricts or bans citizens from criticizing it. By the way, as recently as December 2018, Google allowed of advertising of Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, which caused more than a hundred thousands deaths in 2014-2018.
Here, the focus is on Google banning prescription drug terms in a source code. The source code is not normally seen by visitors. Google knows what the source code is. It probably has billions of lines of it. Why and when did this “policy” change come about? I found the following information about this change:
- The “source code” phrase appears only in the American English version of the “policy”. It is absent even from the GB English version for the US, as well as from Spanish one.
- Even in the American English version, the “source code” phrase newly appeared in the October 25 version; it was absent in the last archived version (September 16).
- As of November 2, the phrase with the “source code” does not appear anywhere on the web outside of Google Ads “policy”, unlike the older versions. That suggests that the change was made very recently.
- This is a very substantial change, potentially breaking thousands of websites, if applied evenly. It is also the only place where the phrase “source code“ appears in the Google Ads “policy”.
- This big change does not appear in the Change Log, as other changes.
This suggests that Google changes its “policies” to justify decisions motivated by extremist politics, probably coming from low-ranking employees. It appears that Google changed its ads “policy” nationwide to ban my ads worth a few hundreds dollars.
Later, a visitor commented on one of my posts. His comment mentioned Calcifediol (a prescription-only form of vitamin D). Google banned ads linked to that post, based on a visitor’s comment. That comment classifies as content by “another information content provider” per Section 230. I was forced to remove that comment, too.
This website does not sells anything and does not link to any external pages selling drugs.
A restricted ad (one of many), 2020-10-25:
Banned ads (2020-07-09):
The October 25 American English version of the relevant “policies” – mentioning source code.
The “source code” is only mentioned in one page of Google Ads “policy”
The differences between the British and US English versions of the same policy for the US. The “source code” is the only non-linguistic difference: google-176031-diffs-highlighted.pdf