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RMEF's Google ad dropped due to “animal cruelty”

Elk herd

Photo credit: Dreamstime

After placing a paid advertisement on Google, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) was surprised when the tech giant decided not to approve it. Google declined the promotional video, which RMEF has placed multiple times before, because it was “in violation of the company’s rule against promoting animal cruelty,” the Associated Press reports. In fact, the company sent an email to RMEF, which said, “any promotions about hunting practices, even when they are intended as a healthy method of population control and/or conservation, is considered as animal cruelty and deemed inappropriate to be shown on our network.”

RMEF immediately sought the help of Representative Greg Gianforte (R-MT) and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) who wrote a letter to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, which requested a meeting with Mr. Pichai and stated the following:

“We are not only deeply concerned with this prohibition, but believe that it is a troubling precedent for the exclusion of an important part of our national identity. Google should immediately change this policy interpretation to uphold our hunting and conservation heritage.”

"We greatly appreciate the immediate actions of Representative Gianforte and Senator Daines," said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. "As Montanans and sportsmen, they understand, value and cherish our hunting heritage as well as RMEF’s conservation mission. Without their quick and effective response, our ability to promote ethical hunting and vital conservation work would be hindered."

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Once the complaints were received, Google revisited the proposed advertisement, reviewed it and, then, clarified its ad policies and apologized.

“Google doesn’t have a policy prohibiting hunting ads. We do have a policy against ads that promote animal cruelty or feature gratuitous violence towards animals. In this case, we made a mistake and the ad is now approved to run,” a Google spokesperson told Montana’s KULR-8, according to the Associated Press.

Google has approved RMEF to continue to advertise how the foundation has in the past.

“Google Ads represent an important tool that we use to increase engagement in messaging,” said Steve Decker, RMEF vice president of marketing. “It allows us to disseminate information to a broader relevant audience about ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.”


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Michael N. - posted 3 months ago on 05-14-2019 10:40:10 am
Midland, Michigan

In defense of Google, the task of effectively and efficiently enforcing content standards is super difficult. The method by which most large social media/digital companies (Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) enforce content standards is some combination of machine-learning algorithms, user feedback, and direct manual intervention (often via small armies of underpaid and overworked folks forced to watch horrendous things in far away countries). Sometimes, as in this case, mistakes are made. For anyone who's ever seen a hunting ad or watched a hunting video on YouTube (a wholly owned Google business), the company's history with hunting and fishing content is no worse than "tolerance", and in my opinion, "supportive". Google's apology and response was appropriate and correct. This is not a conspiracy. All-in-all, Google clarifying their policy towards hunting ads is a good thing.

Jeffrey B. - posted 3 months ago on 05-12-2019 01:07:59 pm
Prince Rupert, BC

Don't be fooled. Google showed their hand but are not yet ready to execute on their plans. The end game of these massive social media platforms WILL put an end to hunting and our traditional ways of life. The control that a handful of people now exercise over us is unfathomable. Their cultural perspectives are opposite of rural America. We have surrendered our liberty and our privacy to the likes of Google and Facebook with barely a whimper.

michael h. - posted 3 months ago on 05-08-2019 08:50:15 am
Tijeras, NM

Holy sweet baby jebus, they did the right thing.