Banned by bias?

Published: Monday 15 March 2004

"Help Us Protect The World's Oceans" Oceana, Washington D C, USA

How skewed are the editorial policies that control the lucrative market program of popular search engine Google? Consider this: recently, it banned the ads of an environmental group protesting a major cruise line's sewage treatment methods. Jim Ayers, Pacific Region director of Oceana, believes it's a clear case of corporate bias. According to the group, Google dropped the text-based ads displayed in shaded boxes along the right side of its Web page because they were critical of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Oceana believes Royal Caribbean pollutes the oceans by improperly treating the sewage on its ships. It hoped to publicise its complaints by paying to have its ads appear when terms like "cruise vacation" and "cruise ship" were entered into the search engine. The ad, which said "Help us protect the world's oceans", appeared briefly before Google pulled it out. "I am shocked that they will post information about pornography and yet censor information about cruise ship pollution," Ayers said.

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