Latest in Gear

Image credit:

Google freezes addiction center ads after word of sketchy referrals

Companies were making huge undisclosed commissions.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
January 15, 2018
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

Reuters/Peter Power

Google rarely stops advertising for an entire category, but it's making that exception to halt some serious abuses. The search firm has temporarily stopped running addiction center ads worldwide after a report revealed that sketchy referral services in the UK were earning huge, undisclosed referral fees (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars) from addiction centers looking for new patients. The company had already stopped offering these ads in the US following concerns about the practice in September, but the complexity and "varying degrees of regulation" around the world had persuaded it to stop all activity while it searched for a "better way" to help addicts.

The move will phase out ads through a gradual region-by-region process. When they come back will depend on Google figuring out a safe way to provide ads without allowing companies that rely on giant referral commissions.

The incident illustrates the challenges Google faces as a de facto health resource for many internet users. While it wants to steer people toward help, it also has to deal with dodgy companies that prey on these same vulnerable people. The momentary pause may have only come after media stories drew attention to the problem, but it'll still be helpful if it leads to more trustworthy health ads.

In this article: addiction, ads, advertising, gear, google, internet, web
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

Engadget's 2020 Back-to-School Guide

View
Space Force official logo and motto unveiled

Space Force official logo and motto unveiled

View
Nintendo 'gigaleak' reveals the classic games that never were

Nintendo 'gigaleak' reveals the classic games that never were

View
California wins injunction against Uber, Lyft classifying drivers as contractors

California wins injunction against Uber, Lyft classifying drivers as contractors

View
Nreal Light mixed reality glasses launch in Korea with the Galaxy Note 20

Nreal Light mixed reality glasses launch in Korea with the Galaxy Note 20

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr