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Google bans Holocaust stories as dangerous, derogatory

Google AdWords bans Holocaust stories as “dangerous, derogatory”

The founder of a New Zealand Holocaust exhibition, Perry Trotter, is condemning the application of Google’s policies in the wake of a ruling relating to its AdWords facility.

Recently, Google disallowed all of Shadows of Shoah’s Adwords ads. Google advised the trust that the ads had been banned for ‘dangerous or derogatory content’.

“At first I assumed it was simply a case of a Google algorithm misinterpreting our content”, said Trotter.

Trotter spoke to an AdWords agent who referred him to Google’s Terms and Conditions which state that the search giant bans:

Content that incites hatred against, promotes discrimination of, or disparages an individual or group on the basis of their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.

“I explained that Shadows of Shoah breaches none of those terms and that its work is intended to oppose discrimination and hatred - the very things Google believes we violate. Google disagreed”.

“Over the next two weeks I spoke to two other Google agents, hoping to convince them that Google had misunderstood our work. I even sent Google detailed documentation of our good standing with NZ Charities Commission and referred them to our website. But their position remained the same,” said Trotter.

Having been told that he had no further recourse, Trotter had a final conversation with Google in which he was advised that the Trust could not use the words “antisemitism” or “Holocaust” in AdWords.

“I explained that our charity was set up to deal specifically with those very issues and to not allow us to do so is itself discriminatory”.

“But our efforts to commemorate the Holocaust and to fight bigotry and antisemitism remain, in Google’s view, dangerous or derogatory. “

Trotter says that the ban sets a very worrying precedent and is particularly difficult to understand given some of the content considered permissible by Google.

“If ‘antisemitism’ and ‘Holocaust’ are now deemed dangerous or derogatory terms, what will be next?“, he said.

Trotter is calling on Google to recognise the indefensibility of their decision and amend it to allow groups such as Shadows of Shoah to promote their positive work.

Shadows of Shoah is a small registered charitable trust dedicated to Holocaust and antisemitism education. Its first exhibition was officially launched by then Prime Minister John Key in 2013. The exhibitions have been staged in museums, galleries, campuses and public spaces throughout New Zealand, and in Australia, and the stories can also be viewed online.

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