Google Banning Anti-MoveOn.org Ads?

18 Comments

FOX News says:

Google, the Silicon Valley giant which has made (Al) Gore a multi, multi-millionaire, has denied Sen. Susan Collins the chance to run an ad on Google condemning MoveOn.org, which is spending fortunes targeting her by funding ads against her or ads for her opponent. Ms. Collins is a Republican. Google says her ad against MoveOn violates some policy or other and they have to tell her no.

MoveOn.org

Update: Google just sent their response and also posted a blog post on their advertising policies.

The text of this ad was rejected by our system because it violated our trademark policy, not because of its political content. Under our advertising policies, companies and organizations that demonstrate that they own trademark rights can request that their trademarked terms not be used in the text of ads on Google. MoveOn made such a request, and as a result we required that this advertiser rewrite their ad and remove the trademarked terms.

If ads are running on Google that include trademark terms in their text, this is likely because either the trademark owner has not submitted a complaint, or because the advertiser has been authorized to use the trademark. It is also important to note that in the U.S. we do not disable keywords in response to a trademark complaint.

18 Comments

Dave

Your first mistake was citing a Fox News article as though it were based on fact. This is the equivalent of me blogging about a fantasy world and posting an Aesop fable as my source.

Get it together

Wanderer

It’s simple:

Google has a policy that states that they will cancel an ad which contains a trademark in the text of the ad if the trademark owner complains. This protects them under the law. The trademark owner complained. Google followed their policy. And yes, you can trademark your own name, just ask any NASCAR driver. You probably can’t if you’re a politician, though, as that crosses the line into “public figure” — and I suspect, in court, Google could have won against MoveOn.org, as they’re a public political group. But their policy says they will take down ads containing trademarks if the trademark owner complains, and they did.l

Now, whether MoveOn, or any other political group, should be entitled to that kind of trademark protection is another matter entirely. In my opinion, so long as someone is not trying to pose as them, there should be no protection. But that’s not how the law is written. What we really need is not government control of Google (do you really want that, Pranjal, and would you still want it if Hillary Clinton was in the White House?) but reform of the trademark, copyright, and patent laws. That is badly overdue.

Glenn

The policy is “fair” because everyone is subject to the same policy. The policy isn’t fair because it prevents someone from referring to an entity by using the name of that entity, which is, well, stupid… and kinda wimpy. I’m so ambivalent.

Michael

Wow! They really did require her to remove “moveon.org” from her ad, simply because moveon.org asked them to. Such uses are allowed under law – even for commercial purposes, so there is no legal basis for google to hide behind. Whether there is a first amendment issue, or not, I think google deserves blame for their baseless policy. But the real villain in this is moveon.org. Why are they so afraid of criticism? It just makes them look foolish and, well, wimpy!

Billy Bob

What we have here is a company of liberals with freedom to do what they think is right. They think criticizing MoveOn.org is a cardinal sin and thus they ban it.

Google is political – it takes sides with liberals and no one can do a thing about it. If you have a problem with Google being liberal, go use some other search engine.( Ha ha, you won’t – no one makes a better search engine than Google does – even that Collins needs Google to get any stuff done on the Internet).

So, stop whining about Google’s political agenda and bow to the God of internet search.

JB

There is freedom of speech as long as you agree with the left. Just review how speech codes on almost any college campus in America are enforced.

Let the truth set you free.

Matt

I’d feel bad…if I could muster up the energy to feel bad for Republicans who are singlehandedly making the rest of the world hate America.

Oh did I say that out loud?

yes.

Nick

SD makes great sense. If the issue is Google not allowing responses to an ad that was placed on Google, then I don’t quite get the rationale behind it. The whole copyright issue doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m not an attorney.

chrisco

A few years ago — before everybody hated george bush — Google ban ads for my anti-bush website http://www.WhiteHouseMafia.com saying it was hate speech or something. I couldn’t believe it and went back and forth with them a number of times. Now the exact same ads run for the exact same site and its no problem. Anyway, you have to watch Google, the definitely do whatever they want to do and will cut you off if they feel like it. Cheers, chrisco

Pranjal

The biggest presidential debate for the election should be………..Someone is needed to moniter GOOGLE, first the sponsored links banning issue, now this. Really some kind of organization is desperately needed to stop the evil google is becoming.

S.D. Mann

Ms. Collins is not what I would call a “conservative” Republican. Being a Democrat from Maine, I am not a big fan of a lot of her positions, but I certainly would caution against painting her as a typical Republican with some sort of agenda against Google. In this instance, I think she has a legitimate beef with MoveOn and Google.

As stated above, I am a Democrat. I lean liberal, and I take umbrage at a lot of the things that MoveOn.org says/does/stands for.

Like many organizations, on both the right and the left, they start with a reasonable position (e.g., war is evil, the administration is corrupt, etc.) and, through the deliberate exclusion of reason, go to extremes (e.g., anyone associated with the war is evil, all republicans are corrupt), eliminating any possibility for reasonable discussion or constructive argument, thereby preempting any potential of a) effectively communicating their position, and b) making any progress toward changing minds.

Para-political organizations at both ends of the spectrum take such extreme views and employ such vile marketing and communications tactics that they render themselves ineffective and impotent to reach anyone other than those who already share their views. But I digress…

I think Ms. Collins (or anyone, for that matter) has every right to run negative ads against the people/organizations that are running negative ads against her. Otherwise, we have a one-sided system where people can speak and act without any fear of repercussions or reprisals, without having to examine what they say before they say it. That is not a good thing. You need look no further than the first six years of the current administration to see what unchecked speech and action can lead to.

By protecting MoveOn.org from free speech coming back at them (if that is indeed what Google is doing), Google is doing a disservice to constructive, public discourse in this country. (I never thought I’d say that about negative political ads, but there you are.)

Thanks for listening.

Erik

Seems like kind of an interesting problem that needs to be addressed. If I am reading this correctly, an organization, just because it has trademark status for its legal name, can run attack ads against an individual, whom I don’t believe can trademark her own name (pleasse correct me if I’m wrong). But that individual cannot then attack back against an organization or even expose that an organization is behind the attack ads because legally the organization can trademark its name. Not a fair fight.

I realize this is just all within Adwords but Adwords had become a political playing field, so it seems it should be fair.

Sig

What First Amendment issue? Like any publisher, Google should be able to reserve the right to publish whatever ads it sees fit.

Peter

I’ll reserve judgment until Google responds, but it sounds potentially troublesome. There may be some legitimate First Amendment issue if what Ms. Collins says is true.

Chris Przybycien

Looks like the conservative Google smear campaign is heating up

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