Google has reversed its decision that blocked the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) from advertising on its platform.
RMEF is a conservation group whose mission is to “ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat, and our hunting heritage.” Google told the group that they could not buy advertising because it violated the company’s policy. When RMEF appealed, they received the following e-mail stating that the decision was correct, as “any promotions about hunting practices, even when they are intended as a healthy method of population and/or conservation, is considered as animal cruelty and deemed inappropriate to be shown on [the] network.”
Congressman Greg Gianforte and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana penned a letter to the tech giant. In it, they said, “We, therefore, demand you reverse these prohibitions and request that Google reexamine their policy interpretations on prohibiting hunting promotions. We also request a meeting to discuss the importance of Montana’s and the United State’s hunting heritage”. The letter can be read in its entirety here.
Google responded by saying they did not have an anti-hunting policy.
“Google doesn’t have a policy prohibiting hunting ads. We do have a policy against ads that promote animal cruelty or feature gratuitous violence towards animals. In this case, we made a mistake and the ad is now approved to run. We always encourage advertisers to appeal if they feel that an ad was wrongly disapproved. This helps us improve our systems and processes,” the spokesperson said.
While Google’s correction of the mistake is commendable, it speaks to the larger issue of how hunting is perceived. The fact that a group like RMEF is linked with animal cruelty is extremely troubling and shows how little the general public understands hunting as a conservation tool.
As sportsmen, what can we do to change the way hunting is perceived?