Google AdWords Allows the Sale of "Low Priced Women"

Jan 14, 2005 • 8:29 am | comments (2) by | Filed Under Legal Issues in Search

It seems as if Google AdWords is allowing (unknowingly) for companies such as eBay to purchase ads (unknowingly) for the "sale of women". Do a search in Google on Women for Sale and look towards the ads on the right. You should see the following ad:


A member at Search Engine Watch Forums is very disturbed by this. This member did a search on women and anger, I believe in the UK, and received an ad that read "Women For Sale Low Priced Women. Big Selection! (aff) -". The member asks several questions:

- How is it possible that a company which refuses to use its "relevant" textual advertising on websites that use bad or foul language, would consider an advert for the sale of human beings inoffensive or somehow relevant to its users?

- If I had searched for "africans and anger" would I have been offered Africans for sale at too?

- Am I correct in my presumption that there is a mechanism in place that forbids the combination of certain words within your "relevant" advertising that would be deemed inappropriate?

- As in, I will not be offered the sale of Africans via an on-line auction house no matter what search I perform, will I?

- If so, why is there no such mechanism in place to forbid the advertising of the sale of women through your website?

- Is it because you consider women to be off less importance than Africans?

- Have you ever heard of the word misogyny?

- What is your opinion of that word and the societal framework that supports it?

- Why was it that, after my initial complaint, only the text of the offending advertisement was changed and not the link itself? Effectively you are still advertising the sale of women through an on-line auction, only using less overt language.

- Since, in the automated response I received, google states that I miraculously saw the advert in the very short space of time between the upload to your site by ebay and its review by your editorial staff, do you not think this a very dangerous practise? This seems like a rather large loophole in which anyone could open an account and upload any manner of malicious, hateful, prejudiced and downright illegal ads. Do you think you should change this policy?

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