Amazon.com recently upset a lot of their gay clients by removing the sales rankings for several gay titles from their collection. Now, search giant Google is likely to find itself in the middle of the same contreversy due to a faux-pas that has been found on the AdWords system.
Filters on Google AdWords are equating the word ‘gay’ with obscenity. Because of this, an ad by poplar Gay news magazine, BGay.com containing the term ‘gay’ could not be uploaded as it failed to meet their editorial guidelines.
The advertiser concerned received a message saying “Gay – Unacceptable Content”. Adding insult to injury, a further message goes on to say “We’ve detected that your ad may contain words often associated with pornography. Google policy prohibits the advertisement of pornography unless it involves consenting adults. Related content is not permitted on the website or as ad text or keywords.”
AdWords editorial policies seem to suggest that the word ‘Gay’ relates to non-consensual sex or sex with minors, which is certainly out of line, and their homosexual clients are bound to be extremely upset with this.
A campaign called ‘Amazon.fail’ was launched on Twitter after this incident came to light. Eventually, Amazon issued a statement saying that due to an error in their system, sexual orientation had been classified as adult content and hence the gay titles had been erroneously deleted. They even promised to restore the titles at the earliest.
Google’s pro-gay stance on California’s proposition 8 has shown them to be very politically correct and mindful of equal rights for everyone. While this is an automatic error caused due to the way their keyword suggestion and association algorithms work, they would do well to set the record straight by correcting this immediately, and also resetting their filters, before they are subjected to a PR nightmare similar to what Amazon is currently facing.