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Don’t Be Evil

Sunday, February 22nd, 2004 · 1 Comment

This is a form letter I just sent to Google’s PR directors since the company seems to be violating its own motto. I’d encourage you to please do the same.

    Recently, your AdWords service rejected two advertisements placed by the international ocean advocacy group Oceana ( on the grounds that they “contained language critical of Royal Caribbean” and “contained language critical of the cruise industry” — even though there is no policy banning such language in either your Editorial Guidelines ( or Advertising Terms and Conditions (…TermsAndConditions.html).

    Why isn’t Oceana allowed to challenge Royal Caribbean on this issue? Royal Caribbean’s pollution problem is well documented at Every day, each cruise ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleet can generate up to 30,000 gallons of sewage (“black water”) and 255,000 gallons of dirty water (“gray water”). And yet, only three of Royal Caribbean’s 26 ships are equipped with modern sewage treatment facilities — leading to thousands of gallons of inadequately treated sewage being discharged into the oceans every day.

    Royal Caribbean could fix this problem, but it won’t. So why shouldn’t Oceana be allowed to point that out? Why did you shut down Oceana’s ads?

    Google should reinstate the Oceana AdWords immediately and show that it supports free expression of all viewpoints, not just those sponsored by corporate interests. Google’s motto has always been “Don’t be evil” — this would seem to be a great opportunity to live up to those noble words.

[ via Mere Sketches ]

Tags: google

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Mahlon Book // May 3, 2004 at 12:34 pm

    I posted a link to your “Don’t Be Evil” letter on my site. This site exploring Google’s Don’t Be Evil policy, as well as general conflicts of interest and corruption in business, media and politics.

    I wonder if it’s possible for Google to have a completely unbiased policy for search results, but still reject ads based on their content? As long as the policy is disclosed and the business side doesn’t affect the content side, how is this different from any media or journalism best practice?

    I don’t want to see legitimate criticism and public discourse subverted by corporate interests any more than you do. It’s easy for dissent to be crushed by the profit motive. But should Google be held to a higher standard than other media, its motto notwithstanding?

    Let me know what you think, and I’ll post your response on