Google Denies Group's Ad Promoting Hunting, Labeling It 'Animal Cruelty' Until Senator Steps In
Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, along with his Republican colleague Rep. Greg Gianforte, were able to successfully intervene with Google after the Big Tech company denied a group’s hunting advertisement and labeled the activity “animal cruelty.”
Mark Holyoak, director of communications for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, told The Western Journal that his organization sought to promote a short hunting video through Google Ads in May, as they have many times over the past decade.
Instead of the anticipated approval, the RMEF received an email from a Google representative stating, “any promotions about hunting practices, even when they are intended as a healthy method of population control and/or conservation, is considered as animal cruelty and deemed inappropriate to be shown on our network.”
“I can imagine how displeasing this could be to hear as you would like to promote this video so that you can show hunting in a positive manner, however, we are also bound by our policies and protocols and according to Google’s policies, promotions such as these cannot be allowed to run,” the Google representative added.
“We were definitely taken aback. It was a complete surprise,” said Holyoak.
RMEF contacted the Montana congressional delegation and heard back immediately from Daines and Gianforte.
“I fired a letter off to the CEO of Google that said, ‘This is censorship. On what basis are you taking this ad down,’” Daines, an avid hunter, told The Western Journal.
The letter from Daines and Gianforte to Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated, in part, that the lawmakers “are not only deeply concerned with this prohibition, but believe that is is a troubling precedent of an important part of our national identity.”
“Google should immediately change this policy interpretation to uphold our hunting and conservation heritage,” the letter stated.
The Montanans concluded, “We therefore demand you reverse these prohibitions and request that Google reexamine their policy interpretations on prohibiting hunting promotions.”
Democrat Sen. Jon Tester, also from “Big Sky Country,” reached out to Google, as well.
According to RMEF, Google reviewed the issue and and an executive with the company told the hunting group that Google had made a mistake.
“They called us straight up, and they said, ‘Look this is an oversight. This is incorrect. This shouldn’t have happened. This isn’t the way that we do business, and you’re good to go going forward,’” Holyoak recounted.
The Google executive gave RMEF his personal number and said if they experienced any trouble going forward to call him.
The video in question features Nancy Hadley, a member of the RMEF board of directors, participating in an elk hunt in New Mexico.
During the video, she discusses the bonds she formed with her father as they hunted together over the years.
“I really hunt to feed my spirit,” says Hadley. “You know you kind of unplug yourself from the busy life we all lead, and it just really kind of grounds me.”
Holyoak believes that Google clearly misapplied their “animal cruelty” rules to hunting.
“Generally speaking there is a major disconnect between the understanding people have and where their food source comes from,” he said.
He noted that when someone buys ground beef or another meat product in the store, they have no idea how the animal was raised, whereas a hunter has the advantage of knowing the habitat in which the animal lived.
Holyoak described wild game as “fresh, organic” and “very healthy.”
Daines — a former top executive with Bozeman-based RightNow Technologies (a company founded by his colleague Gianforte) — believes Big Tech companies are often too quick to suppress views they do not agree with.
“We must hold these tech companies accountable,” he said.
“There is a bias against conservative and conservative views,” Daines added. “And we need to see balance restored in Silicon Valley.”
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