Should Google stop running dating ads?

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The National Association of Victims of Human Trafficking Advocates (an American organisation) says Google should stop displaying all online dating ads until it can be sure none of them point at fronts for human trafficking. I’m sure Google is not keen to part with all that money (lord knows there’s loads of money in advertising online dating), but I’m also sure it doesn’t want to support slavery. I’ve seen quite a few Adsense ads in my time that reeked of mail order bride of the worst kind. In fact, this was one of the reasons I never signed up to Adsense in the first place, because it doesn’t give you the freedom to reject ads. There were all kinds of ads appearing on my site that were obviously aimed at Western guys with am Asian women fetish and I didn’t like the language and pictures used (nor the sites they pointed at). But can Google really filter out the baddies and should all reputable dating sites suffer if it can’t? It’s a tough one. I’m sure Google is working really hard already to ensure it complies with legalisation. An article in Search Engine Land wondered whether something can be done similarly to the way Google handles the healthcare sector, requiring advertisers to go through a certification process. The author mused whether the US could learn from the UK, where there is an association of dating sites (an organisation that is hardly the seal of approval it may appear to be from outside, not because it’s dodgy or anything, it’s just not quite as official as it may appear). Maybe Google should just treat this highly explosive area of advertising even more seriously and put even more resources into actual human vetting of new advertisers. Having worked as a moderator I know mistakes can happen even when you have whole dedicated teams working on something, but when actual human lives are at stake, you can never be too careful. I’d rather see advertisers denied until they can prove they’re legit than all those horrid ads for sex slavery fronts.

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