Recently, Google announced an update to its advertising policy related to "sensitive events."  The changes go into effect on October 1, 2020.

Under the new policy, Google will not allow advertisements that "potentially profit from a sensitive event with significant social, cultural, or political impact, such as civil emergencies, natural disasters, public health emergencies, terrorism and related activities, conflict, and/or mass acts of violence."  Examples of ads that violate this restriction include ads that:

  • Appear to profit from a tragic event with no discernible benefit to users; 
  • Involve price gouging or artificially inflating prices that prohibits/restricts access to vital supplies; 
  • Promote the sale of products or services which may be insufficient for the demand during a sensitive event; and 
  • Use keywords related to a sensitive event to attempt to drive additional traffic.

The new policy also prohibits ads that claim "victims of a sensitive event were responsible for their own tragedy or similar instances of victim blaming" as well as ads that claim "victims of a sensitive event are not deserving of remedy or support."  This restriction would prohibit, for example, ads that claim victims from certain countries were responsible for, or are deserving of, a global public health crisis,