Does Google Find The Word "Gay" Offensive?

Apr 20, 2009 • 8:55 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google AdWords

A Google AdWords Help thread reports that an AdWords advertiser has been notified that using the word "gay" in his search ads are seen as offensive. This advertiser was offended that Google would consider the word "gay" as offensive. Here is what he said:

I found it very offensive when my ad was flagged for review for having the term "gay" in it. It surprises me that this a part of Google's policy as it is very offensive and homophobic.

Just to clarify: Google's policy is offensive, the term "gay" should NOT be.

With the recent Amazon FAIL over a similar topic, does google also want to be lumped into this mess?

It is well known that Google is very supportive of gay rights, so I was a little skeptical. I tried to create a search ad in Google AdWords myself, and used the word "gay" in the title and description and it worked without an issue. In the case above, it seems like after the ad was already live, Google made a decision to review the ad later. Maybe someone felt his ad was offensive and Google pulled it until it can be manually reviewed? I am not sure, we don't have the official word from Google yet.

Forum discussion at Google AdWords Help.

Update: Via Twitter @AccuraCast notified me that he has screen shots proving this. Plus @GrosenFriis has a post on this as well.

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Jerry Nordstrom

04/20/2009 03:37 pm

It is a slippery slope Google is on trying to be the PC police. Microsoft doesn't even offer a Synonym for Gay in MS Word. Are they homophobes? As one who reads Brit based children's stories to his kids, the word Gay comes up frequently. And my kids now use it as part of their vocabulary. How did Gay, being happy, become a bad thing to say? I queer is also in this boat, and queer means unexpected, suprising and curious... What if people in the gay community were called, Sad, bad or great, stunning, happy? No matter the word, it's all about how it's used and often that is determined by the context and inflection used by the speaker. How is Google going to review that in 70 Characters? Not much I can do about it, so I guess I will just continue on gaily with my day.


04/21/2009 09:55 am

Just an experience I had as an AdSense publisher: I created our dart league web site and included Google ads. As the web site had many keywords that included "sponsoring clubs" and the "pubs" we play darts in, it triggered several ads for gay bars, gay chat rooms etc. Parents of the youth in the league may not be too happy with that, as many of the players. From that point of view, I'd appreciate Google looking into certain phrases and ads regardless of whether its PC or not.


04/25/2009 02:21 pm

Actually google flagged it because sometimes people use gay as a curse word. It's not rocket science guys, you know very well it's the reason why google flagged it.

Jerry Nordstrom

05/04/2009 04:39 pm

That's exactly the point. People use liberal, right winger, left winger as well as black, chinamen even Amerikaner in a derogatory way. Should Google now ban these words as they could be used in this context? What's the threshold? For the next year Rush Bimbo is going to use Barack in a disparaging way and convince his followers to do the same. Should this now be considered a word that should be banned by Google? Again, if Google tries to walk this PC line they doomed to take a big fall.

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