I was disappointed to see that (despite LCN discussing related issues – on his blog and with Google – a while back) Google are still running ridiculous, potentially harmful adverts for bogus cancer treatments – in clear breach of UK advertising regulations. For example, if you google ‘cancer nutrition‘ you may well see an advert informing you how
94% of Doctors Don’t Know That you can Beat Stage IV Cancer w/out Chemotherapy or Radiation
This advert is potentially harmful to cancer patients: if they forgo evidence-based treatments for bogus ‘cures’, this could have very serious consequences. It is also in clear breach of UK advertising regulations. As the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) confirmed when I pointed out the advert to them, this advert does appear to be in clear breach of ASA Codes. I suspect that this advert may also run into problems with the UK’s Cancer Act. I should emphasise that online adverts in the UK are covered by UK regulations: these adverts are not acceptable on Google, just as they would not be acceptable in the print media (although I would hope that reputable print media would not run such adverts).
When I told Google about the large number of bogus cancer treatments that they advertise when one googles ‘cancer nutrition’ – and the regulatory issues around this – Google informed me that their adwords team review all adword adverts (although they said that this may take a short time). The advert mentioned in this post was online since at least 4/9/08, and Google replied to my initial e-mail about this issue on 17/9/08, so they are not exactly quick at dealing with unacceptable adverts.
Google is a company that willingly complies with unpleasant local laws in China – limiting the access of Chinese people to valuable information. On the other hand – despite having been alerted more than once to this issue – Google appears unwilling to block adverts for bogus cancer treatments which breach UK regulations.