July 11, 2012
Google Bans Shopping Search Results for Guns, Ammo, Knives With New "Family Safe" Policy
By Chad Love
Is Google unfairly discriminating against businesses that sell firearms, ammo and knives? A recent change to Google Shopping's policies for businesses that prohibits advertising guns, ammunition, knives and other products has many wondering what the omnipresent company is up to.
From this story on Forbes.com:
"...Specifically, they’ve banned results related to firearms and other products that they don’t deem to be “family safe.” Until recently, gun-related products appeared with other products in search results on the shopping section. Many of America’s 80 million gun owners have used Google as a powerful price-comparison tool. Not anymore.
Google’s new, anti-gun policy, assigns a "family status" to all products. Products that are “non-family safe” are blocked from Google Shopping. This includes guns, ammunition and knives, as well as vehicles, tobacco and radar scramblers.
Of course, this isn't the first time a giant and ubiquitous Internet presence has gone after guns and related products. Several years ago eBay did the same thing. Perhaps un-coincidentally, about the only thing you can now find on eBay are fake purses made from pressed-and-formed Chinese industrial slag and PayPal scams, while sites like Gunbroker are going gangbusters.
But it does bring up an interesting question: Yes, Google is a business, and as such, should only be beholden to its shareholders. But considering how utterly dominant and pervasive Google is in literally everyone's lives, both personal and professional, and how Google is, quite frankly, a de facto monopoly in many ways, are arbitrary decisions like this a violation or unfair infringement on gun-related businesses' ability to operate online? Should gun-related businesses have a "right" to advertise on Google? Or should we just take our lumps, go find a new online strategy and hope someday that the big Google dragon gets slayed?