Google says it recently blocked two digital advertisements by the Tennessee Republican Party because they contained profanity and swearing, which is a violation of the company’s advertising policies.
Google’s disapproval of the ads has created controversy and sparked claims of censorship.
The video advertisements show clips of protesters interrupting a recent Marsha Blackburn campaign event in Nashville. At the end of the ads, viewers are encouraged to “stop the mob” and “vote Republican.”
One video is half a minute long, while the other is just 15 seconds.
The Tennessee GOP uploaded the ads to YouTube, which is owned by Google, but were barred from promoting them as advertisements.
A party spokesperson says after Google disapproved the ads, they reached out to the Daily Caller, which then published a story accusing Google of censoring the Blackburn campaign and also accusing other social media companies of censoring conservative views.
“This is not our first trouble with Google this cycle,” said Gillum Ferguson, Tennessee GOP spokesman, in an email to News Channel 11. “We’ve had numerous instances earlier this year where Google would approve our Search Ads and then mysteriously disapprove them. They claimed it was a glitch, but we do not know of others this happened to, and given that this is a repeat occurrence we are naturally skeptical.”
Regarding the disapproval of the ads, Google issued this statement Wednesday to News Channel 11:
“Our advertising policies prohibit ads that contain shocking content, including profanity or swearing. If an ad violates our policies, we remove it. We encourage advertisers to appeal if they feel their ad is mistakenly removed, and we are happy to work with advertisers to make sure their ads comply with our policies.”
11 seconds into the videos, a protester can be seen yelling profanity, which has been bleeped out. A subtitle reads “**** you”.
Google contacted to the Tennessee GOP Tuesday and told them they would need to blur the protester’s face in addition to bleeping out the profanity, according to Ferguson. He says Google told them they would need to do that before the company would approve the ad.
Ferguson told News Channel 11 the Tennessee GOP is considering complying with Google’s request.
According to a Google transparency report, the Tennessee Republican Party Federal Election Account has purchased 27 political ads through Google since May 31.
In 2017, Twitter blocked a video of Blackburn announcing her campaign for U.S. Senate over “inflammatory language.”