As reported last week in the Daily Caller, Google recently rejected a YouTube advertisement for a Capital Research Center video about environmental extremism. Google’s defense at the time was that advertisements cannot allegedly link to content that is critical of someone—even if that content was criticizing a serial killer. Google has since reversed its decision.
The advertisement for “How Far Should We Go To Stop Climate Change?” included a link to a piece on the CRC website titled, “Unabombers Without Bombs: Meet Extinction Rebellion.” In the piece, author Ken Braun critiques the environmentalist movement by starting with an anecdote about the anti-technology Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.
Even though Kaczynski killed three people and injured 23 more, a Google employee told the Capital Research Center’s Jake Klein that criticizing the serial killer in the piece violated advertising policies against the dangerous and derogatory content.
During the phone call, the Google employee highlighted three parts of the article linked in the advertisement that were flagged, the word “eco-radicals,” the summary of the text of the blog post, and the line, “industrial capitalism is destroying humanity and that only a return to a pre-industrial state of nature will save us” when describing Kaczynski’s views.
Klein asked, “So, I just want to be clear. We’re criticizing that view. So is it the fact that we are quoting it, is it what Kaczynski said which is dangerous and derogatory, or is it our criticism of it that’s dangerous and derogatory?”
The employee told Klein, “It’s actually about the criticism. Like, any kind of content that creates hatred or—I know that you’re trying to, you know, specify this person, the content on your website, by criticizing [inaudible] and you know, you want to highlight something else as a better thing. But any content that is kind of, you know, providing a negative impact or is giving a negative information, even if it is about a negative thing, that is falling under dangerous or derogatory.”
“Thank you for that clarification. That‘s very helpful and I appreciate it,” Klein responded. “I just want to dial in just to make sure I understand this right because I’m a little shocked and surprised if this is the case. Our criticizing anarchist serial killer Ted Kaczynski is, for his opinions on industrial capitalism, is dangerous or derogatory because we’re criticizing Ted Kaczynski? Is that accurate?”
The Google employee affirmed, “It’s not just this person that you’re criticizing. Any person that you’re criticizing will be falling under this category. Any person. Even if it’s about a criminal or something like that.”
“Okay, so even if they’re a serial killer, we can’t criticize their views? That’s the position?” Klein asked.
“Um, yes,” the employee confirmed. “Because even if we criticizing any sort such negative person and we advertising them it’s going to double up on negative feeling for the person who will be, you know, navigating to the landing page of the video.”
The idea that Google does not allow ads because they are merely critical of someone is easily debunked. The Capital Research Center was able to find an array of advertisements that are critical of—or directly against—an individual person. For example, Warren for America, Inc. is running an advertisement that claims President Trump’s administration is corrupt. Need to Impeach’s Google advertisement explicitly asserts Trump is “unfit for office.”
Google’s rules on dangerous and derogatory content, which were cited as the reason for the rejection, prohibit content that incites hatred, “harasses, intimidates, or bullies an individual or group of individuals,” exploits people, or threatens harm.
Although an employee had defended the decision when speaking to Klein, a Google spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation the advertisement was “mistakenly disapproved.”
The spokesperson told the DCNF, “This ad was mistakenly disapproved because it linked to an article about the terrorist Ted Kaczynski. The ad is now approved, and an ad using the same video but linking to a different site has been running for several weeks without issue.”