Google Takes Steps to Protect Consumers from Sham Rehab Advertisements
Motivated by investigative reporting by the journalist Cat Ferguson that Google search ads were leading people in need of treatment to - as the New York Times put it - "rehab centers that are unfit to help them or, in some cases, endangering their lives," Google has halted such ad buys until they can verify the quality of care ad purchasers provide.
Overnight, the search giant has stopped selling ads against a huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment,” and thousands of others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.
“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category,” Google told The Verge in a statement. “As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”
This is a significant step because Google plays an outsized role in helping people in need of treatment try to find it.
Explains The New York Times:
What constitutes treatment is also all over the map, from yoga and equine therapy to daily doses of medication. And unlike other serious illnesses, like cancer or heart disease, where a physician typically refers the patient for treatment, many addicts and their families look for help on the internet.