Shooting Sports News

Google Censors Firearms Products in Shopping Search Results

9mm ammo search

Google’s unofficial motto of “don’t be evil” is being heavily scrutinized by firearms enthusiasts following the release of a letter the company sent out to merchants using its Google Shopping service. The email informs sellers that the service is becoming a commercial operation; this means that merchants can pay money to have their products show up first in Google Shopping search results.

Along with this change came an announcement which informed merchants that “weapons” and “weapon accessories” (including things like hunting rifles and ammunition) would no longer show up in Google Shopping results. Officially, Google has said that “Our Company has a strong culture and values, and we’ve chosen not to allow ads that promote products and services that are incompatible with these values.”

Now many in the firearms community are questioning exactly what these values are. There is an online petition asking Google to amend their policy started by change.org user Michael T which can be found here.

It appears as though the policy has already been put into place, and you can see for yourself with a bit a quick googling – try searching “remington 700″ or “9mm ammo” on Google and then clicking the “Shopping” tab on the left sidebar. Below is the official announcement from Google as reproduced from Michael T’s petition (emphasis added by editor).

“Dear Merchant,

We’re writing to let you know about some upcoming changes to the product listings you submit to Google. As we recently announced, we are starting to transition our shopping experience to a commercial model that builds on Product Listing Ads. This new shopping experience is called Google Shopping. As part of this transition, we’ll begin to enforce a set of new policies for Google Shopping in the coming weeks. A new list of the allowed, restricted, and prohibited products on Google Shopping is available on our new policy page – Google Shopping policies – NEW – Google Merchant Center Help.

Based on a review of the products you’re currently submitting, it appears that some of the content in your Merchant Center account, ****************, will be affected by these policy changes. In particular we found that your products may violate the following policies:

Weapons

When we make this change, Google will disapprove all of the products identified as being in violation of policies. We ask that you make any necessary changes to your feeds and/or site to comply, so that your products can continue to appear on Google Shopping.

To help you through this new set of policies and how to comply with them, we would like to give you some specific suggestions regarding the changes needed to keep your offers running on Google Shopping.

Weapons

As highlighted on our new policy page Google Shopping policies – NEW – Google Merchant Center Help, in order to comply with the Google Shopping policies you need to comply first with the AdWords policies AdWords Policy Center – Advertising Policies Help. We do not allow the promotion or sale of weapons and any related products such as ammunitions or accessory kits on Google Shopping. In order to comply with our new policies, please remove any weapon-related products from your data feed and then re-submit your feed in the Merchant Center. For more information on this policy please visit Weapons – Advertising Policies Help.

We’re constantly reviewing our policies, and updating them when necessary, to ensure we’re offering the best experience possible to our users. We’ve identified a set of policy principles to govern our policy efforts on Google Shopping in the U.S. These principles are:

1) Google Shopping should provide a positive experience to users.

Showing users the right products at the right time can truly enhance a user’s experience. When people trust us to deliver them to a destination that’s relevant, original, and easy to navigate this creates a positive online experience to the benefit of both users and merchants.

2) Google Shopping should be safe for all users.

User safety is everyone’s business, and we can’t do business with those who don’t agree. Scams, phishing, viruses, and other malicious activities on the Internet damage the value of the Internet for everyone. Trying to get around policies or “game the system” is unfair to our users, and we can’t allow that.

3) Google Shopping should comply with local laws and regulations.

Many products and services are regulated by law, which can vary from country to country. All advertising, as well as the products and services being advertised, must clearly comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

For the most part, our policies aren’t designed to describe every law in every country. All advertisers bear their own responsibility for understanding the laws applicable to their business. Our policies are often more restrictive than the law, because we need to be sure we can offer services that are legal and safe for all users.

4) Google Shopping should be compatible with Google’s brand decisions.

Google Shopping must be compatible with company brand decisions. Our company has a strong culture and values, and we’ve chosen not to allow ads that promote products and services that are incompatible with these values. In addition, like all companies, Google sometimes makes decisions based on technical limitations, resource constraints, or requirements from our business partners. Our policies reflect these realities.

We’ve given much thought to our stance on this content, as well as the potential effect our policy decision could have on our Merchants, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Sincerely,

The Google Shopping Team

© 2012 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043 You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your Google Merchant Center account.

Google Announcement from https://www.change.org/petitions/tell-google-not-to-interfere-with-our-2nd-amendment-rights-retain-your-current-policy-concerning-weapons; image is a screenshot by author; slider image © iStockPhoto/Jeff Trausch

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Joe Boy

    Interesting perspective Google has on their values. They don’t like guns but sex objects is fine with them. I Goolged a sex toy and had no trouble getting to sites that sold them. Good bye Google.

  • RobD

    Funny I just look up Ruger and found all I asked for.

  • BradU20

    Let Google know…send them feedback.

    “No firearms or ammo? Are you serious?
    Are you trying to lose out on a multi-billion dollar market of safe and responsible recreational shooting and hunting? I’m sure you think you are doing some great service to the community….you know, cause all the thugs and gang bangers come to “Google Shopping” to buy their 9’s…..???”

  • jd

    I guess they changed their mind since the article as i found 9mm’s and remington 700 as well. I even found my S.A.S.S.

  • jk

    just typed in dildos for sale, and got 10 pages of options. Some high standard!

  • Chris Ehlers

    The internet is supposed to be an open source of information. The high tech community complains when the government tries to put filters on the subject matter on it while doing just that in this case. Isn’t it time that we took back control of this? I for one will delete any Google products on my computers and never purchase their products or services in the future. If everyone in the gun enthusiast community did so I think thy would get the message. So let’s boycott Google.

    • http://www.facebook.com/herman.a.taylor Herman Allen Taylor

      why it works

  • AZsparrow

    The heck with Google, there are other search engines out there. I dropped Google when they started spying on us all anyway, collecting info for directed advertising by scanning your PC browsing history and whatnot. I suggest people try out “DuckDuckGo” for searching, I have for the last few months and am happy. Funny name you say… well what is Google, LOL. Anyway, they don’t track or save info to sell advertisers on you either, so I recommend you check them out. Go to duckduckgo.com and download them to your search tools, and make them the default choice if you want, I did. Nothing in it for me by the way, just sayin’….

  • coolweather_guy

    Thanks for letting me know about google. I for one will try to not use google in the future. They’re others out there that are just as good to provide searches.

  • http://www.facebook.com/M.Anthony.Geffert M Anthony Geffert

    What we have here is a lack of understanding. Google.com is not blocking things it is a great search engine. Google.com/shopping is a specific engine that is designed for google users to shop – it is blocking what ever google determines it wants to…

  • G man

    I think some people are not actually reading the article here. It is not being listed on Google Shopping and not on their search engine Google.com.

    It is a negative and ignorant move by Google, but people shouldn’t misunderstand and complain as that is just an ignorant reaction that hinders gun enthusiast culture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/herman.a.taylor Herman Allen Taylor

    this article is false ….atleast for NC, I have done multiple searches for ammo and guns and get multiple pages…is this search on Google from a different country …see location is blocked

    • TSE

      Are you searching in Google, or in Google Shopping?

  • clearlyoptics.com

    Since Google is a private company, it is their prerogative to censor their results however they see fit. As consumers, it is our prerogative to use whichever search engine best suits our needs. Although to be fair, I just entered some key words (rifle scopes, laser sights, etc.) and found my site on google search results.

  • ET.

    Reading comprehension…try it some time!!! Again, this policy applies to their Google shopping service, not Google’s search engine. Pay attention folks. I just might start using bing to protest Google.

    • azlefty

      I can find ammo on Google shopping, see my post

    • Rock

      Its a big difference.

  • azlefty

    All this means is they do not have any sellers with 9mm, got a hit on 357, 380, 7.62X39 and 5.56 but not 223

    This paranoia is getting to be too much!

    • outdoor economist

      Really? because I just searched and I did not find anything for any of those calibers.

    • MikeMcM

      The paranoia has blocked your ability to read and understand. Google Shopping is where the blocking is happening, not the general search engine. Ask Midway Arms how paranoid they are.

  • Fairshake

    I have always preferred Google when it comes to doing any kind of a PC search regardless of what it is for. I use nothing but Google mail.
    I ‘m 65 years of age and a former Army soldier of the Viet nam era and came home and continued my service by being a cop for over 15 years. During my time as a cop I was a Firearms Instructor and big outdoor and shooting person.
    I will no longer use Google as they are taking a stand against guns and the freedoms of our Constitution.

    • Anonymous

      Awesome! Can you tell as many people that think like you to also stop using Google? Much appreciated. Go find a weapon friendly search site and NEVER use Google again. EVER.

    • http://twitter.com/LOLatGOP LOLatGOP

      You DO realize that they’re merely no longer selling weapons through their Shopping channel right? They are not affecting their search results.

  • Texas redeye

    Based on this article and past episodes of social engineering I also will avoid using google

  • Coach Lump

    I guess I will make “bing” my search engine and stop using google

  • http://www.facebook.com/marijo.oneill Mari Jo O’Neill

    I will no longer use Google for any searches, this is a typical liberal agenda and it’s a violation of 2nd Amendment rights. I will pass this on to everyone I know so they know Google is against freedom & libery.

  • Sig Sauer

    ” F” Google and ” F” Bank of America.

  • mcsmc

    This is complete BS. And for those of you that think this article is wrong, you CAN search http://www.google.com for these things, but look on the LEFT side of your screen, and you’ll see Google Shopping… click on that, and all of a sudden, no results. The Shopping piece is a sub-search engine designed for buying products… obviously, while Google will let you find sites that describe these items, they don’t want you buying them.

    My major problem with this is that criminals don’t use Google to buy their guns and ammo… only law-abiding citizens that want to protect their right to a safe life do! So Google’s suddenly taking a liberal democratic stand, eh? I won’t use Google Shopping until they change this nonsense.

  • bruce

    Google had better revise their policy. As a shareholder, I will vote against the board members when election time comes around. Guns and ammunition are legal in the United States and by the US Constitution 2nd Amendment. They are used for hunting and target sports and merchants should be very upset to be told that Google will not let their products, which are legal to be sold, be found. This sounds like unfair restraint of trade to me and warrants lawsuits against Google by vendors affected. We Do Not Live in a country where Censorship is permitted or tolerated.

    • Rock

      Really? That Blue Pill must be kicking in hard.

  • cowboy4884

    I just did a search for 45ACP and About 5,590,000 results came up.. If I find in the future that they limit my searches I will quit using Google

  • http://twitter.com/totalipad Christopher Rizzo 

    Bing it from now on!

  • sokypatriot

    I tried it and got results. So the issue described here may be false.

  • Dr. Ken

    Why is everyone surprised? Look for personal posts from Google employees and management. They are generally liberal and this policy reflects that. Do understand the mindset. I’m sure they don’t want hunting or the shooting sports of any kind to even exist. See their overall outlook as quoted in this letter. The mindset is requires that guns are EVIL. Therefore this is simply their corporate move to make anything associated with “evil weapons” less available. Oh, by the way, check out their political donations.

  • hmm

    I’m pretty sure this says google shopping not search… And yea it is the internet but its just like any other store that doesn’t sell firearms/ammo. You can still search for any website you want and buy from that website you just won’t get the shopping results from google. Is it really that big of a deal you can’t hit shopping and type it in?

  • steve

    Everyone needs to go to Google and leave FEEDBACK that we want uncensored results. It’s sad that you can get a 1000 results for dildos and anal beads but none for 9mm ammunition.

    • http://twitter.com/LOLatGOP LOLatGOP

      Well, hopefully the dildos and anal beads will be the next to go away.

  • mikemcm

    How do you boil a frog? Just put it a comfortable pot of water and turn up the heat. It will die before it knows it is in trouble. Google Shopping is just the first step. They claim to have values. I guess the Constitution and it’s second ammendment are not on their list.

    • http://twitter.com/LOLatGOP LOLatGOP

      “I guess the Constitution and it’s second ammendment are not on their list.”

      The Constitution and it’s second amendment requires that all retailers sell firearms and other weapons? You DO realize the difference between Google search and Google Shopping results, right?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U2H7S4MG6PLQUVOA2CFNMZ2QUQ Ric Desan

    Bah this isnt even news, I mean who the hell uses Google shopping anyway? I sont know anyone that does and I know I dont. Besides, after all these years I’ve started using Bing for alternate results and like the results! Google is all about evil these days! just look at their Gdrive TOS if you want to get an idea about how bad!

  • Charlie

    Three cheers for Gogle for taking a stand against the yankee gun nut culture. Americans are totally insane when it comes to guns……. The gun nuts are just another nail in the coffin of American civilization.

    • Q

      I couldn’t agree more. Where did you say you lived?

  • YankeeBelle

    This doesn’t surprise me and I can’t wait to see how they shoot themselves in the other foot. I’ve refused to use Google ever since I learned about the li’l boys who started it. Now they track everything you do and are constantly pulling that info from your PCs, tablets and cellphones. They’re not going to care to change their policy, they’re young men who have no concept of real life, just the virtual fantasy world they live in online. I can’t imagine them being familiar with any of our constitutional rights, beyong their freedom of speech.

  • CavScout62

    Google showed it’s true colors long ago and I haven’t visited it since. BING is far better and so far does NOT try to foster any SOCIALIST agenda BS on it’s users.

  • Billbo

    Going to use Bing and Yahoo now.

  • Scornful Law

    If firearms owners don’t like the fact that Google chooses not to sell ammunition within its store, then they should shop elsewhere. That is why it’s called a “free market,” and Google can choose to sell what it likes, and it cannot be forced to carry items it does not want to sell.

    Please note, too, that this issue does not affect Google’s search results, but even if it did (and again, it does not), then this would not be “censorship” since censorship is State (read: government) action.

    You’re not forced to use Google, and you cannot force Google to carry merchandise you like. That would be akin to making your local Christian bookseller carry Playboy.

    For people who alleged espouse freedom and individual rights, our group is a mite weak on the meaning of “freedom.”

  • Brady Taylor

    I’m not sure what has happened, perhaps the petition woke some people up. After reading this I logged onto Google and searched for 9mm ammo, Remington 700 and others and was sent directly to websites offering the items. I hope Google has seen the light and realized their error and corrected it!